15 Tips for Creating a Cottage Garden

English Cottage Garden with white picket fence

The cottage garden style is very popular amongst gardening enthusiasts that enjoy the wealth of colour, scent and wildlife produced by unique English style. Here are 15 of the best tips on how to create a traditional cottage garden of your own.  

paving path in cottage garden

  1. Because of the competition for space in a cottage garden pick tough, robust plants that will hold their own.
  2. Plant bulbs that will provide colour in the inevitable quiet winter period that cottage gardens have.
  3. Introduce scents by planting honeysuckles, roses and lavenders to provide the authentic smells of a traditional cottage garden.
  4. Avoid straight lines and formal layouts for both your planting and landscaping.
  5. Introduce fences to the garden, which were originally used to separate plants from animals, as they provide a dividing function for the garden and structure for plants.
  6. With an emphasis on self sufficiency, plant fruit trees, vegetables, berries and herbs which will also bring with them fragrances and aesthetic charm.
  7. Allow your plants to grow all the way up to the house so that there’s hardly any break between garden and home.
  8. Plant your herbs and flowers closely together and ignore the common advice that plants should be well spaced. Traditionally cottage gardens were the result of poorer families growing as many medicinal and edible plants in a small space as possible.
  9. Create harmony and flow by repeating the colours, textures and type of plants in your borders.
  10. Make sure to include tall plants in the mix to encourage the eye to move up and around instead of viewing a singular flat plane.
  11. Choose the most complementary path material for your home from materials such as stone, gravel brick, dirt or even grass.
  12. Keep some of the lawn. Although it may be tempting to remove almost all of the lawn to provide space for plants leaving a good amount will break things up.
  13. Allow plants to become unruly and spill into and over each other as well as onto the walkways.
  14. If possible, provide your garden with a backdrop such as hedges, rustic fences or even a stone wall as it’s a garden’s background structure that often brings it into focus.
  15. Decorate with found objects such as picket fencing, bird baths, feeders, boats or even bathtubs to both personalise and decorate your cottage garden.