Best Cottage Garden Ideas for a Picture-Perfect Space

beautiful ornamental garden house
17 Best Cottage Garden Ideas We Loveelenaleonova - Getty Images

If you're looking for a low-maintenance garden design that looks lovely, you may want to try a cottage garden style.

Cottage gardens are all about creating a natural look and feel. You will need to do some planning and design, though the goal is to make it feel a little haphazard and wild.

A successful cottage garden uses a myriad of plants, including flowers, herbs, vines, and shrubs to provide varying height, shapes and colors, along with useful structures to add dimension, texture and charm.

What is the difference between an English garden and a cottage garden?

Cottage gardens and English gardens often have structural components, such as paths, trellises, and walls to create the garden space.

English gardens tend to be more traditional and structured with uniform raised beds, linear plantings and sculptural elements. Cottage gardens focus on beauty and function but involve more whimsy and wildness.

What plants are good for cottage gardens?

Cottage gardens rely on a variety of plants including flowers, shrubs, climbing vines, herbs, and vegetables. You'll find plenty of classic flowers that are favorites among gardeners. Here's a list (click for growing guides).

Pay attention to bloom times and plant accordingly, so you have blooms throughout the seasons rather than just during specific months. Not only will you enjoy seeing and smelling the flowers, pollinators will thank you for having a buffet of flowers year-round.

Find More Cottage and English Garden Ideas Here:

Add an Arbor

An arbor adds an architectural aspect to a cottage garden by creating a visually pleasing element, along with height and texture.

Related: 33 Simple Garden Trellis Ideas for Climbing Plants

garden and path arbor, colors of summer
Darrell Gulin - Getty Images

Include a Garden Bench

Create a welcoming place to sit down and unwind in your peaceful and relaxing cottage garden. A wooden garden bench gives you space to stretch out or look out at all the beauty with company.

Related: 22 Creative DIY Bench Ideas to Add to Your Garden This Year

a wooden garden bench in a tranquil spring english garden with hazy sunshine
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Attract Birds with a Birdbath

Invite feathered friends for a drink and a place to bathe by adding a stone bird bath among tall growing flowers, such as white and purple coneflower.

Related: 15 DIY Bird Feeders to Fill Your Garden with Songs

panorama of cottage garden in bloom in summer in east hampton with birdbath
Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography - Getty Images

Create Movement with a Water Fountain

A water fountain offers a calming element to your garden while also enticing pollinators and birds to have a place to drink water or bathe. The size and depth of the fountain will influence whether pollinators can use it.

Related: 17 DIY Water Fountain Ideas

angel statue fountain in garden
pink_cotton_candy - Getty Images

Create a Focal Point

Add height and dimension with an arbor to your cottage garden. Arbors provide vertical space for plants to climb. They also create a centerpiece by highlighting an area and dividing the space, such as creating two different sections of lawn.

Grow climbing plants such as Clematis, Hydrangea, Petunias, and Zinnias.

Related: 20 Flowering Vines to Add Vertical Color to Your Garden

garden with various flowers
Darrell Gulin - Getty Images

Grow an Array of Blooms

Growing flowers in various heights, colors and shapes creates a stunning cottage garden scape.

This will also attract beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and moths to the garden. Consider ladybird red poppies and masterwort (astrantia) flowers, as seen in the photo.

Related: How to Plant a Pollinator Garden

beautiful vibrant english cottage garden flowers in the hazy summer sunshine including ladybird red poppies and astrantia flowers
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Grow Herbs in Pots

A cottage garden is all about growing an array of plants, whether they're flowers, bushes, grasses, or edible herbs and veggies.

Grow favorites that tend to spread, like mint and sage in containers.

Related: 55 Favorite Container Plants and Ideas for Your Potted Garden Oasis

overhead view of back garden with flower pots
Rosmarie Wirz - Getty Images

Incorporate a Pergola

Have a pergola in your backyard? This wooden structure is an important element in a cottage garden–creating height, stability and a place for vining plants, such as these varying hues of climbing roses to use as a trellis and foxgloves in the forefront.

Related: 25 Pergola Ideas That Will Add Style and Shade

beautiful english summer garden with wooden pergola with climbing roses and foxgloves
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Plant Along a Picket Fence

Plant climbing roses along a picket fence to create structure while providing a place for the trailing vines to grow and expand. This is a great example of a cottage garden combining an architectural component while letting plants grow freely to create a whimsical look

Related: 10 Picture-Perfect White Picket Fence Ideas

climbing roses
Sandra Hudson-Knapp - Getty Images

Cover the Soil

Planting with a lot of flowers is a good way to ensure that soil isn't left bare where weeds or unwanted plants will likely crop up. Consider sunflowers and zinnias, along with a native grass for your region or a ground cover to keep the soil covered.

Related: 25 Best Ground Cover Flowers for Backyard Bald Spots

beautiful, colourful flowers in an english cottage summer garden with sunflowers, zinnia and grasses in soft sunshine
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Make a Statement with a Stone Planter

Want to make a statement in the garden and create height and texture? Fill up a stone planter with small flowers or herbs.

close up image of a concrete rustic garden planter in an english cottage garden with soft pink roses
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Mix Annuals and Perennials

A cottage garden combines an array of plants, so consider growing annuals and perennials. Annuals you'll plant each year while perennials will keep cropping up when the right conditions occur.

Related: What's the Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?

country garden in late summer
Photos by R A Kearton - Getty Images

Plant Around a Rustic Gate

An older wooden gate can add charm and character to your cottage garden. Plant flowers of varying colors and heights to create a natural feel to the space.

Related: 17 Inspired Garden Gates for a Beautiful Backyard

a rustic, wooden garden gate and fence in an english cottage garden
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Plant in Painted Pots

Cottage gardens are about bright tones and adding playful themes, such as painted pots. Whether you have plenty of garden space or not, growing some flowers in containers will add splashes of color to the garden.

Related: 23 Seriously Creative Ways to Spruce Up a Flower Pot

colorful flowers and pots
Darrell Gulin - Getty Images

Play with Texture

A common aspect in a cottage garden is looking wild while still being contained and under control.

Incorporating a metal gate that looks like rope adds a nice texture and balances out the haphazard with some structure

beautiful summer wildflower garden with a roped rustic wooden gate and wrought iron pergola in the background
Jacky Parker Photography - Getty Images

Step It Up with Stairs

Have stone or wooden stairs in your landscape? Cottage gardens are about using what's in your landscape so plant alongside them.

If native to your region, consider planting (as viewed in photo) Blue Oat Grass, California Poppies, Blue Flax, or Fireweed, and ground covers.

Related: 18 Stone Walkways That Will Beautify Your Yard

colorful garden stairs
Solidago - Getty Images

Take a Seat to Unwind

Create a space to chill out and admire all your blooms. Choosing a bright-hued chair adds color and vibrancy to the garden.

Related: 8 Stylish Outdoor Wicker Furniture Pieces and Sets

garden and path, blue chair, colors of summer
Darrell Gulin - Getty Images

You Might Also Like