How to Plan a Cottage Garden

If you love billowy, carefree masses of flowers, a cottage style garden is just for you. These gardens are all about embracing abundance and whimsy! Choose plants with a range of heights, bloom times, and colors and closely plant them in groups or singles. Shrubs left unpruned will give the garden an airy feeling with their natural, open habit. Leave dried blooms un-deadheaded over winter for a dynamic view all year round.

DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS 

• Densely planted layout 
• Abundant flowers and foliage
 • A blend of colors
• Blooms for the entire growing season
• Plants with habits that have a naturally carefree habit, no need to prune or shape

TALL

MEDIUM

SHORT

Layout Ideas

Garden layout for a cottage style garden.

DESIGN TIPS 

• Planting in drifts will create a meadow-like, natural aesthetic (top), while planting in ones and small groups will create a classic English aesthetic (bottom) 
• For small spaces, just pick your favorite grouping (5-10 plants or so)
• For plantings against a wall or fence, put the tallest plants at the back and go down in size to the edge. For island plantings, put the tallest plants in the middle and work down in size to the edge
• Disperse each flower color evenly throughout the garden
• Group plants with different foliage textures together
• Give each section interest for spring, summer, and fall

Comments (4)

  1. Terri

    Thank you, please keep creating articles like this. I’m such a visual person and have 2 acres to play with!!

    • Kristina Howley

      So glad you’ve found this article helpful. Hopefully we’ll be able to post some other style guides this spring!

  2. Frauke Facchini

    Thank you for the layout examples, that is very helpful!

    • Kristina Howley

      So glad you enjoyed the examples!

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Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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