Cottage-Style Landscape Design

With its cheerful, informal look packed with a casual abundance of plants, a cottage-style landscape design always feels like home.

The exuberance of a full-fledged cottage garden always enchants. Curving pathways lead to abundant flowerbeds. A relaxed atmosphere prevails. Often, a picket fence functions less as a corral and more as a beautiful prop to showcase the cottage garden plants. Although Mother Nature rarely creates spaces quite this gorgeous, a cottage landscape design appears perfectly natural. The overall effect is one of simplicity, charm, and riotous bounty.

A cottage garden may appear to be naturally crafted and slightly out of control, but in fact, it follows a few simple rules. Use these cottage landscape design ideas to create a look that will make any home seem like a sweet cottage.

Curving Paths and Lines

Cottage-style landscape design is relaxed and loose, not rigid or formal. To enhance the air of informality, curve the pathways and flowerbed edges. Curves entice the visitor to move farther into the garden to see what is around the bend and discover the mysteries hidden inside. Encourage plants to drape over the edges of the beds, softening the lines.


Cottage gardens originated in Europe where people grew their favorite plants—beautiful as well as practical—in small spaces. For your cottage garden design, always select plants that grow easily in your area. Growing plants from cuttings or divisions that originated with friends and family keep with the spirit of cottage gardens.

Place plants as close together as you can without causing them to smother each other. This style of planting has the benefit of crowding out weeds. Make your own compost each year so the soil has enough nutrients to support a large plant population. To help with weed control and moisture retention, mulch the beds with organic material that breaks down and adds nutrients to the soil. Avoid placing plants in regimented lines or patterns; cottage-style landscape design relies on plants appearing to tumble about with abandon.

Old-Fashioned Plants

Cottage landscaping should express both joy and purpose. The original cottage landscape designs placed beautiful bloomers of varying heights right next to native plants, herbs, and ornamental vegetables. Color schemes follow no rules, varying from a soothing pastel plan of pinks, blues, and yellows to an intense riot of reds, oranges, purples, silvers, and more.

Plants with multiple petals, such as hybrid tea roses and peonies, are favorites among cottage gardens, some of the easiest roses to grow, and they have the added benefit of sweet scent. Contrast heights within beds by using spiky classics such as foxgloves and delphiniums.

Annuals, with their constant blooming ways, are perfect for cottage beds. Consider varieties of zinniamoss roseFrench marigoldsalvia, and nasturtium for ease of care. Rely on perennials with a long season of interest or texture, such as fuzzy lamb's-ears, hardy geraniumlady's mantle, and sedums, to carry from one year to the next.


Arbors, Gates, and Trellises

Even if you don't have a thatched roof, you can give your cottage garden a romantic attitude with the right props. A low fence, such as a classic white picket or a wrought-iron fence, offers a sense of enclosure and heightened style. Connect your gardens with stylish gates, a vine- or rose-covered matching arbor, or a beautiful trellis, too. There are even tons of eye-catching pergola ideas to choose from.

To create vertical interest, place an obelisk or tuteur inside a flat expanse. If you have a large cottage garden, space these structures along alternate sides of a pathway so they appear to draw you along.

Relax in outdoor furniture that looks homey and comfortable, not tired and rundown. Country-style painted and weathered wood chairs, antique metal shellback chairs, or a cute bistro set work well in the cottage landscape design scheme.


Decorate your cottage landscaping with beloved items that carry emotional value and a patina of age, such as the lightning rods from your grandfather's farm or the rusty little wagon your mother always used. Don't overdo; a few ornaments placed properly can go a long way.

A cottage landscape design should feel good to you, not like a burden. Don't feel like it has to look like a magazine spread. Choose what you love, and the beauty will follow. Our romantic cottage garden plans can help with that.


Cottage gardens offer informal charm and beauty. See the best cottage garden plants and cottage garden design ideas to start your own cottage garden.


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