Recreate Quaint English Gardens with Cottage Landscape Designs

Traditionally, cottage landscape designs were found in small English villages and referred to the lush and magnificent gardens that surrounded the quaint thatched cottages of the Tudor and Victorian eras in England.

cottage landscape designs

This period of renaissance took personal gardening beyond the fruits and vegetables necessary for survival to a new level of enjoyment and an appreciation of the beauty and fragrance of plant life.

English cottages were typically small and economical, owned by average class families without an abundance of wealth. The garden design centered around the rustic cottage and featured a colorful array of practical, easy to grow flowers, shrubs, and trees.

During the 19th century, the romanticism and increasing wealth of the Victorian era heightened the love of gardening and the luxury of simply enjoying the romantic English garden.

The quaint English cottage was not as common in the latter part of the Victorian era, but the cottage garden style was still evident throughout
the grounds of the larger estate homes.

cottage landscape designs

Along with the traditional cottage garden plants, the gardens were also dotted with new, more luxurious plants, like fragrant rose bushes and elegant, climbing vines.

Today, cottage landscape designs are still popular garden styles for those desiring a quaint, flora rich landscape that offers a comfortable and elegantly styled outdoor living area that blends countryside charm with the sophistication of modern residential architecture.

Cottage style gardens are typically found in upscale neighborhoods like the one pictured above in Westchester, Connecticut, because of the extensive skill and time needed to maintain the lush variety of plants, but
cottage landscape designs can be achieved in most any environment with the right combination of elements.

Key Elements in Cottage Landscape Designs

cottage landscape designs

There are a number of landscape designs that are similar to the cottage style garden, including the country garden and the Tudor styled English garden.

Two other types that we are familiar with here in the United States are the modern American bungalow and the California craftsman designs.

These American style gardens like the one pictured here in Los Angeles, have a casual feel as is portrayed in this picture of a charming California craftsman home.

Besides lush, fragrant plant life and a romantic essence, cottage landscape designs are distinguished by the following features:

  • A cozy and secluded atmosphere created with hedged walls made of evergreens and vertical arbors adorned with fragrant, graceful vines.
  • Garden borders overflowing with a variety of flourishing shrubs and flowers, as well as textured and purposeful fruit and vegetable plants.
  • Simple and direct walkways that allow intimate strolls, but can accommodate carts and wheelbarrows for gardening needs.
  • A relaxing sitting area amidst the aromatic beauty of the garden for entertaining and outdoor living.

Materials of a Cottage Garden

cottage landscape designs

Functional pathways like the one above just outside Boston,
Massachusetts are an essential part of cottage landscape designs.

Construct walkways out of rustic, natural materials like:

  • Weathered or aged bricks
  • Simple terracotta pavers
  • Neutral colored gravel
  • Cobblestones or other rustic stones

Lawns and grassy areas are limited in cottage garden styles because most of the landscape is covered by plant life. Small lawns may be included for children or pets and to create a relaxed living area.

Selecting Cottage Garden Accessories

There are a variety of accessories that can give your cottage landscape design just the right element of English charm.

cottage landscape designs

Traditional cottage gardens typically featured an enclosed area to keep animals and protect food plants. Recreate this element with quaint picket fences made of wood.

Arches, trellises, and arbors, covered with vines and creeping plants, add a vertical element to the garden design. Choose these structures in rustic styles that complement other garden accessories and blend with your home’s style.

Comfortable and inviting seating should have an olden appearance, like the one pictured here in South Hampton, New York, but still boast Victorian elegance. Wooden or wrought iron benches and teak garden furniture are excellent choices.

Decorate with simple accessories that create a feeling of times gone by like the following:

  • Victorian style birdhouses.
  • Rustic outdoor items like water pumps and classic weather vanes.
  • Bright colored accents, including outdoor upholstery and patio beverage sets.
  • Whimsical figurines that complement the overall decor.

An Assortment of Cottage Garden Plants

cottage landscape designs

Country garden plants are the most crucial element in your cottage landscape design. Choose plants that will compliment the style.

We would recommend including:

  • Flowers, a variety of both annuals and perennials scattered throughout the garden to balance color and scenery through every season. Foxgloves, irises, daisies, and hollyhocks are traditional cottage garden plants. Geraniums, delphiniums, and peonies are great selections as well.
  • Roses add an air of romance and mystery to a cottage garden. For the best effect, grow several varieties and integrate arbors or benches into the design for an enchanting backyard getaway.
  • Shrubbery
    of various sizes can be scattered throughout the landscape and used to create hedges and barriers. Evergreen shrubs add color to your garden, regardless of the season. Rosebushes, especially old fashioned types, are a must in any cottage landscape design.
  • Shade trees are not a common element in cottage style gardens. Select small trees and useful fruit producing plants that can easily be pruned.
cottage landscape designs

Here are five suggestions:

1. Colorful and graceful crepe myrtle trees.

2. Elegant ornamentals like redbud and mimosa trees.

3. Useful and decorative fruit trees, like peach and apple trees.

4. Vines add the romantic, Victorian flair to your landscape design that sets apart the cottage garden style, softening the straight edges and bland appearance of the fences, walls, and other structures. Flowering or fragrant vines are best, like wisteria and honeysuckle.

5. Vegetables, herbs, and other useful garden plants are also important for an authentic cottage garden. Scatter plants of various color and texture among different types of flowers and shrubs.

Most importantly, cottage garden plants should grow easily in your area, preferably native plants, for a flourishing and vivid garden. These plants are often called pass along plants because they are easy to share. Planning a unique and elegant cottage landscape design that blends the natural charm of an English cottage with the modern construction of your home requires careful attention to detail and the right types of plants and materials.

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