It starts innocently enough. A seed-starter tray sitting in a sunny spot on your counter. Until you realize that you forgot to label them and now have to wait until the seedlings sprout to play Guess That Herb. I’ve been there, my friend. I’ve also been in my garden, mid-season, pacing around in circles looking for the chives that I know I planted earlier that spring. I could have sworn it was next to the parsley. But with the vegetable garden in full effect, I fear I’ve lost my chives forever. Or maybe some critters have eaten them? At any stage in your herb garden’s development, labeled herb stakes are essential.
There are so many ways to mark different herbs in your garden. You can use store-bought garden labels, or you can make your own herb stakes using simple items from around the house. The added benefit of going the DIY route is that you can customize the color and style and get creative. From simple paper flags to solid wooden markers, here are some ideas for cute herb stakes for your garden.
Toothpick paper flag
If you’re starting your herbs from seed, a simple toothpick paper flag is an effective herb stake to help you remember which seedlings are in which pot. I’ve used toothpicks and colorful post-it notes, or even cut-up bamboo skewers in a pinch. I recommend using this method for indoor seedlings since the paper will not weather outdoors very well.
Popsicle stick labels
Next up, is an oldie but a goodie. Popsicle sticks (craft sticks) make great herb stakes and can be used indoors and outdoors. For seeds and seedlings I suggest using the smaller-sized popsicle sticks, and for outdoors, check out the larger variety. Get creative by using multi-colored sticks or using colorful markers or paint. If you are planning to use them outdoors for more than one season, consider coating them in a weatherproof sealant.
Stick and twine herb stakes
These might be my favorite and they hold up to the trendy cottage-core aesthetic. I also get a major Lord of the Rings Bilbo Baggins garden vibe! These herb stakes will transform any regular herb garden into a kid’s fairy herb garden paradise.
A little extra work up front, you’ll need some sturdy but narrow twigs, some twine, and larger pieces of wood where you’ll write or paint your label. I think paint stirring sticks work great for this method, and you’ll just need to trim to size. Simply wind the twine in a figure-8 pattern hugging the twig to the perpendicular label.
Sturdy scrap wood stakes
For more robust outdoor herb stakes, I recommend crafting them out of larger pieces of sturdy scrap wood. You can create a simple “T” shape using two pieces of scrap wood and either nails or a staple gun, depending on the thickness of your wood. Take advantage of the larger surface area by practicing your calligraphy or even painting a small illustration of each herb next to its name. Again, if you want to use these herb stakes year after year, use a sealant as your final coat. You can also add arrows and other way-finding symbols if your herb garden is expansive.
Whatever method you choose for your herb stakes, remember that you’re doing it for future-you. You know, the you who didn’t drink her coffee that morning and accidentally pulled up all of the marjoram plants thinking they were a bunch of weeds. Or the future-you who is going to send her (totally capable, but sometimes absent-minded) partner out to the garden to fetch some basil for the tomato-basil-mozzarella salad you’re making. Future-you is going to be happy that current-you made those herb stakes. Trust me.
Do you have a different method for crafting herb stakes in your garden? Are you going to try one of the ideas listed above? Let me know in the comments!