How To Start A Cottage Garden From Scratch

Cottage gardens are gaining popularity in urban areas. This is because of the abundance of wildlife they attract.

These gardens are ideal for urban settings. They maximize available growing space by employing both horizontal and vertical planting.

If you want a cottage garden and want to know if it is ideal for your garden space, then this article is for you.

How to build a cottage garden

Invest in good soil.

If you have good, rich, organic soil, your plants will thrive with less water and fertilization. Also, you should conduct a soil test to determine the soil type. Add compost—store-bought or homemade—to your garden every year.

Take Care Where You Put Your Plants

Not having the proper plant in the right spot due to the full size of the variety or its preferred growing circumstances causes a lot of labor in a cottage garden design.

Choose Hardy Plants for Your Garden

Flowers that bloom early in the year, such as the Rose of Sharon, Russian sage herb plant, wild indigo, purple coneflower, Magnolia tree and New England aster, are among the most sought-after plants for a moon garden and cottage garden.

And roses are a classic way to add romance, but be wary of high-maintenance hybrids. Plant the old-fashioned climber ‘Blaze’ or disease-resistant Knock-Out shrub roses, and fill in with English cottage garden plants like blue fescue, lamb’s ears, and lady’s mantle for interesting foliage.


Mulching keeps the soil wet and discourages the growth of weeds.

Organic mulch, such as leaf mold, compost or bark, actually enhances the soil as it decomposes. The uniform appearance that mulch gives to a garden is another benefit.

Use automatic watering

Swap out carrying a heavy hose with a more convenient hands-free option. Drip lines make it easier to water only the roots of the plants without getting any on the flowers or leaves. Also, there’s less wastage of water through evaporation.

What is a cottage garden?

This is an informal garden that’s beside the house and has local herbs, food, and flowers. Cottage gardens are charming because of their beauty, color, whimsy, and utility.

Cottage gardens feature overflowing flowerbeds crammed with climbing plants, vegetables, decorative flowering plants such as clematis vine and herbs.

The garden makes excellent use of every available space, from the walks to the plants to the arches and other structures you can use to grow plants vertically. They tend to be less formal and more relaxed.

Cottage gardens are charming because of their free-flowing plant arrangements. They also lack strict adherence to predetermined layouts or color schemes. That certainly doesn’t imply that they’re unproductive, though.

Every plant in a cottage garden has to work for its place and be self-sufficient. Harvesting, deadheading, and otherwise tending to such a diverse assortment of flowers and plants is a lot of work.

What to plant in a cottage garden

  • Delphinium

Plant them in a spot that gets full light but is protected from the wind. You should stake most of them. Protect against slugs once you plant. Prune and fertilize it to promote a second blooming in late summer.

Use delphiniums as a tall backdrop for more compact plants like irises, Shasta daisies, or peonies in a border.

  • Foxglove

The plants that make up the classic cottage garden are short-lived perennials and biennials.

Foxgloves do best in the sun or light shade and in moist, fertile, and well-drained soil. Grow from seed once a year.

Pair them with hardy alchemillas or geraniums, both of which produce foam at their feet.

  • Mock orange

People love these plants because they smell so good and have so many flowers in early June.

Plant them in either direct sunlight or dappled shade. They prosper in every soil condition.

The dwarf to medium-sized varieties work well with penstemon and veronica in perennial beds or even wicking garden beds. Use a robust climber, like a clematis from the Viticella group, to weave in and out of larger shrubs for a wild, country look.

  • Rose

It may be argued that the scent of roses in a summer cottage garden is essential. Pick the right stature and routine for your situation. Nevertheless, keep in mind that true antique climbing roses usually only bloom once.

Roses are adaptable but thrive best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Mulch and fertilize your garden in the spring. Deadheading multiple plants will stimulate re-flowering.

You can train climbers into trees, use shrub roses to spruce up your borders, and underplant with groundcover roses.

  • Lavender

Cottage gardens are perfect for growing lavender. Shrubs are ideal for use as low hedges or as front borders along walkways.

Lavenders do best in well-drained soils in full sun. Soils high in alkalinity and chalk are ideal for their growth.

The typical aromas of rosemary and salvia pair well with other aromatic plants.

Are cottage gardens high-maintenance?

When done right, cottage gardens are a harmonious fusion of scents, shapes, and textures. There is no need to worry about uneven planting densities or staggered heights.

The lack of apparent planning is what gives a cottage garden its charm. However, even a small backyard garden needs some sort of management. The lushness of cottage plants often softens the formal framework in successful cottage gardens.

The idea that the garden will take care of itself is one of the problems with cottage gardening. That’s not how it works at all. In reality, a cottage garden requires a lot of care and attention.

Some will blossom into bullies and force out the rest. The situation with self-sowers often escalates quickly. Without regular division, perennials will eventually die out. Deadheading can be tedious when there are a lot of blooms, but the alternative is a surplus of spent blooms.

Your gardening goals should reflect the time and energy you are willing to invest in the project. If you’re not sure if you like the cottage garden style, it would be best to try it out on a smaller scale first.

Or, you may try a fusion of approaches. Adding more evergreen bushes for ground cover and reducing maintenance is one option for accomplishing this. Beautiful Escallonia and Hebe shrubs are two such examples.

How to make a cottage garden on a budget

A cottage garden is a good way to save money because many of the flowers can be grown from seed. Trade the seeds with neighbors, and you can start new plants from cuttings.

Let plants that grow from their own seeds spread, and if something you don’t want grows there, just pull it out and move it. Everything has a place in this planting scheme since it mimics nature.

Use natural or reclaimed items for garden features. In addition, use reclaimed and natural materials for hard landscaping to help keep costs down.

Trim and clean up any new growth, and remove spent flowers to encourage more blooms.

Benefits of a Cottage Garden

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to give in to the uncertainty of a cottage garden, here are some pros to think about.

Cottage gardens need not be immaculately kept.

While order in the garden is desirable, perfection is not necessary. Having a few plants or weeds that need staking go unnoticed is less likely.

  • A cottage garden can save you money compared to a traditional garden.

You can start a cottage garden with a few seed packets and patience. But it will take some time before you see any results.

You can fill in the gaps temporarily with less expensive plants, even if you invest in a few more expensive anchor plants, such as blooming shrubs or rose bushes.

Perennials will rapidly spread and fill in if you divide and propagate them each year, and self-sowers will do the same. To broaden your gardening horizons, find a friend or two who share your interests and trade plants with them.

  • These gardens are personal.

Each garden will be different from the next. No 2 years in a row will indeed have the same cottage garden. The plants will continue to shuffle about, and their equilibrium will shift and change over time.


The charm of a cottage garden stems from the free spirit and sentimentality it embodies. There are no guidelines so that you can design your cottage garden specifically for you.