Tips to Create a Cottage Garden: Formal gardens focus on order and clearly defined spaces. Cottage gardens, however, are filled with cheerful tangles and flowers that create a rainbow of color and texture. Darrell Trout is an avid gardener, writer, and lecturer who loves the relaxed, colorful, and fun style of cottage gardens.
These gardens are less invasive than other styles and allow nature to run its course. Trout states that a cottage garden may not be as concerned with following rules as it is about doing what you love. The following tips and advice can help you make your garden a joyous place of floral abundance.
How to Make a Cottage Garden Easy
Cottage gardens are casually designed. These tips will ensure that your garden is beautiful in all seasons.
1 Starting a Cottage Garden From Scratch
Trout advises, “Don’t make a monster you don’t have the time to feed often.” Keep your cottage garden small and, most importantly, have fun. As your confidence grows, you will increase its size.
2. Invest in good soil
Trout states that starting with good soil is the best way to go. It’s rich and organic, so plants can thrive without much watering or fertilizing. To determine the type of soil that you have, Trout recommends a soil test. You can add organic matter to your soil every year by either purchasing compost or making it yourself.
3. Place plants carefully
It isn’t easy to design a cottage garden with the right plants in the right places. This could be due to the plant’s size or preferred growing conditions. Trout states that gardening experience will allow you to push the boundaries. He adds, “But the best plants, those that require less care–are the ones that have ideal conditions.”
4. Choose tough garden plants
Trout’s favorite cottage garden plants include spring-flowering bulbs and purple coneflower (Echinacea pureea), wild indigo or ‘Happy Returns’ daylily, Hemerocallis, Symphyotrichum novae angliae ‘Alma Potschke’), Russian sage (Perovskia riplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’).
Roses are romantic and can be used to make a statement, but they should not be considered high-maintenance. Trout recommends that you grow tough, disease-resistant Knock-Out roses or the traditional climber ‘Blaze. You can also use English cottage garden plants such as lady’s mantle, Alchemilla Mollis, lamb’s ears (Stachys Byzantina Helene Von Stein), and blue fescue.
Trout advises, “Find high-performance plants that are almost bulletproof.” There is no right or wrong way to build a cottage garden. You can choose what you like.
5. Cover Soil
Trout states that mulching helps to maintain soil moisture and stops weeds from growing. Mulch (or bark, compost, or leaf mold) is an organic mulch that breaks down and improves the soil. Mulch gives your garden a cleaner, more cohesive look.
6. Use an automatic watering
You can save your hands by not having to drag a hose about. Trout suggests drip lines as “it’s easy for you to place the water exactly where it needs to be, and not on the leaves or flowers.” He also points out the efficiency of drip lines, as less water is lost into the atmosphere.
Cottage Garden Ideas with Low Maintenance
These tips will help you create a cottage garden that is easy to maintain and looks stunning.
Hardscaping is a great way to set off plants.
Boulders can be laid in natural-looking shapes and dug into the soil one-third of their depth. They are great year-round anchors to complement the flowering plants. A picket or rustic fence can be used as a backdrop for a cottage garden to bring order to the chaotic mix of mixed plants.
Plant Long-Lasting Annuals
Many annuals are great for cottage gardens, whether you need shade or full sunlight. They will bloom throughout the summer and don’t need any care. Some, like love-in-amidst (Nigella), and cockscombs (Celosia), can even reseed without becoming a pest. This will add to the casual, natural look of your cottage garden.
Take a Walk Through the Garden
The garden path provides visual relief from overcrowded plants. They make your landscape look more inviting and are easier to maintain. Think about who will be walking in the garden, and what shoes they might wear. This will help you choose between a hard or soft surface like gravel, wood chips, or concrete. If foot traffic is low, a grass path is an option. However, it will need to be mowed regularly.