Learn how to create an English cottage garden in your very own backyard! These gorgeous traditional gardens are easier than you may think – start planning your garden makeover today!
If you’re an avid gardener or are just obsessed with everything Royal Family and the treasure that is Meghan Markle, chances are you have an idea of what a traditional English garden looks like. Lots of colors, well-maintained hedges, and a courtyard that is straight out of a fairy tale.
And while you may not come from royalty or have a professional landscaper on retainer, you can still create a stunning, eye-catching English garden in your own backyard. So grab your gardening tools and clogs, channel your inner brit and let’s get to work!
How to Create an English Cottage Garden
Okay but actually, let’s take a few steps back. Before you start getting to work tearing your backyard apart, you’ll want to plan out your garden. Creating an elaborate English garden requires more planning than just adding some raised garden beds to your yard. In order to create a traditional English garden, you’ll need to establish pathways and figure out where you want to plant your different flowers and foliage.
Gardening is an art and due to the nature of the creative process, you’ll probably find yourself changing the design multiple times. Better to go through trial and error now rather than when you’re covered in potting soil. While you could always break out the pen and paper and start drafting some ideas, there are a variety of garden design software programs to make the process even easier.
Create Easy Access With Pathways Between Garden Beds
Establishing pathways between your garden beds will provide you with easy access for maintaining and watering your beds. It will also create the perfect route for walking through and admiring your hard work.
There are a few different options you could go with. You could stick to the standards like gravel and grass, but there are more environmentally friendly options that are easier on bare feet. Lawn alternatives like groundcovers, creeping thyme, and ornamental grasses are easier to maintain and you won’t feel the need to water obsessively.
Consider Bright, Colorful, Contrasting Plants
If you google what an English garden looks like, one of the first things that’ll catch your eye are arrangements of bright, colorful flowers. Typically, a traditional English garden will feature perennial flowers such as chrysanthemums, echinacea, lavender, black-eyed Susans, and peonies. However, you could always add some native plants to help support local wildlife.
Now here is the fun part: making the flower beds all your own. You could go with shades of pink and yellow or choose complementary colors. You can plant each flower variety in their own bed or mix it up for some diversity.
Line Your Pathways With Hedges
One of the cornerstones of English garden designs is well-defined pathways. Often times walkways will be lined with well-trimmed hedges, but you can also opt for stone walls for a more low-maintenance option. Not to mention, stone walls can create a unique contrast with rows of garden beds.
Another option is to line your pathways with seating. Adding outdoor benches with attached planters allows for more seating and more flowers!
Add A Greenhouse That Is Functional And Beautiful
The greatest benefit of a greenhouse is that it allows you to extend the growing season and grow plants that you otherwise couldn’t in your environment’s natural climate. However, greenhouses can also add a gorgeous architectural element to your English garden, especially if you opt for an eye-catching glass greenhouse.
Building a greenhouse yourself is an option, or you can always opt for a kit from Wayfair or Amazon. And if you’re especially handy, you could even upcycle some old windows into a one of a kind glass greenhouse.
Plant Roses… Lots of Them
If you’ve ever seen Alice in Wonderland, you know that roses are an important part of any traditional garden. While you could opt for white roses and paint them red, it’s probably a better idea to choose one that has some natural color of its own. There are a wide variety of rose cultivars to choose from, and combining different colors will create a gorgeous display come spring time.
You can also train your roses to grow on a trellis, creating a bit of privacy if you live too close for comfort to your neighbors. Also, with a garden full of the low-growing perennials, some trellises will add much-needed visual interest to your display.
Add A Pergola For Shade And Gathering With Friends
And while we’re on the topic of adding a bit of privacy to your garden, consider adding a pergola to your English garden. Not only will you provide your garden with a shady area, but it’ll quickly become your favorite gathering place for family and friends.
Consider establishing climbing plants that will someday weave their way through the top of your pergola for a natural touch.
Establish An Entrance That Makes A Statement
After you’ve put all this work into transforming your backyard, you’ll want to create an entrance that is just as majestic. Not only will you impress your friends and family by transporting them into your own secret garden, but if you ever get in the position of selling your home, it could really wow potential buyers.
Aside from aesthetics, adding a gate or other entrance can help to keep your dog (or deer) from digging up (or eating) the flowers you’ve worked hard to cultivate.
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Leigha Staffenhagen is the managing editor of Insteading.com, a homesteading and sustainability site focusing on everything from gardening and raising chickens to tiny homes and off-grid living.