tranquil cottage garden with lounger

9 Cottage garden ideas to get you inspired

From vibrant flowers and fragrant herbs to quaint winding paths, there are endless beautiful elements of a cottage garden that will inspire you to create your own.

What is a cottage garden?

Cottage gardens were traditionally used to mark out the borders of a property, usually those in rural settings. A low wall or line of hedges could set out the confines of the garden, and the yard, plant beds or vegetable patches would be populated with functional elements to serve the occupants. It was common to find fruit, herbs and even livestock in the garden.

Today, the need for such necessity has declined, and the cottage garden fills a more ornamental function (though the country charm remains). It is usual now to find roses, native flowers such as foxgloves and fragrant plants such as lavender and mint. Now, these gardens are more often a statement of wealth and well-being.

beautiful cottage garden on a summers day

How to create your very own cottage garden

Start building your ideal cottage garden by looking at cottage gardens online or in your local gardener’s magazine. Here are the first few steps you can take to get the cottage garden started:

  • Create a layout: sketch it out by hand or use a garden planning software.
  • Choose your plants: decide your plants based on your climate, the location of the sun in your garden and the mix of perennials and annuals you’ll be planting.
  • Choose your features: source benches, border tiles, raised beds and any other features you’ve decided on.
  • Prepare your garden space: Till your soil, add compost, lay paths and organise water features.
  • Plant your cottage garden: plant your seeds, seedlings and established plants. Remember to water them regularly!
  • Once you’ve begun to plant your cottage garden, remember that it isn’t going to bloom overnight. Great things require patience, so allow your plants the time to grow, spread and watch the beauty of an all-natural garden thrive.

    How do I create a cottage garden on a shoestring budget?

    It’s easy to spend a lot of money on your garden, especially if you’re looking at planting new shrubs, perennials, and trees. If you’re on a budget, look at what you already have and what your local gardening community has to offer. They may be keen to share seeds and swap accessories – they may even offer to help you with more labour-intensive tasks.

    In our cottage garden ideas below, we’ve accounted for any ideas that can be delivered with a reduced budget.

    1: Plant your flowers close together

    Flowers are a crucial element of your cottage garden and significantly impact our sense of harmony. They give your garden variety, colour, height, scent and visual stimulation. Plant your flowers into every bit of free space for the desired wild and untamed appearance. If your cottage garden is on a budget, make sure to buy self-seeding annuals such as poppies, primroses and Solomon’s seals.

    wildflowers from a cottage garden

    2: Use curved paths

    Curving paths give your cottage garden a natural feel, allowing your guests to wander through your flower beds. Curving paths are more natural, and research suggests curves are more pleasing on the eye. If you’d like to give your garden a more traditional appeal, use tudor cobbles or sandstone setts to create a more rustic looking path.

    curved garden path

    3: Add height with creepers & archways

    Add another layer to your cottage garden with height. Creeping and climbing plants such as traditional roses, morning glory and jasmine will give you something eye-catching above the horizon. Similarly archways, growing structures and hanging planters and baskets will give you colour and scent from all angles.

    traditional climbing roses

    4: Create fun features

    Although your cottage garden ideas should draw from your garden’s natural style, adding a few interesting features will give your cottage garden an extra lift. Have a winding path lead towards a wishing well, a bird bath, a bench or even a sundial.

    water feature for cottage garden

    5: Consider stone walling

    Irregular, bucolic walls and fences with a hand-crafted feel will also add to your cottage garden style. Try to choose natural material and plainly painted woods (or not painted at all). We’d recommend our Cotswold tumbled walling, laid in a dry stone fashion with cock’n’hen coping.

    cottage garden wall made of stone

    6: Hang traditional garden accessories

    Traditionally rural accessories such as milk jugs, pitchforks, old wheelbarrows and old wooden ladders can help create a provincial aesthetic for a cottage garden. If you’re on a budget, find them for free in your local community, local charity shops or car boot sales.

    rustic milk jug in lavender

    7: Lift the eye with raised beds

    Raised beds are an excellent way to keep flowers and plants located to one spot. These raised spaces are great for encouraging pollinators and adding a multi-levelled effect to your garden, especially if it’s a large space. Try to use natural wood to border your raised bed.

    cottage garden raised beds

    8: Relax in a secluded sitting spot

    Whether it’s a beautiful bench, a single deck chair or a few loungers in the shade of a tree, a sitting area is a fantastic addition to any cottage garden. Here, you and your guests can relax and enjoy yourselves, surrounded by wildlife and nature. Sitting and taking in the beauty of your garden is essential for relaxation.

    chair amongst potted plants

    9: Mix and match paving & borders

    Cottage garden paths aren’t uniform and mixing and matching elements will complement the rustic style. Mix it up with some sandstone paving and use unique pathways to connect the areas of the garden. Your cottage garden borders don’t have to match either. You can build elaborate borders for your favourite flower beds, natural edging for walkways, or shrubs to mark out your quiet areas.

    mixed paving and border path

    Next steps to get your dream cottage garden

    At Paving Direct, we offer a range of products that can enhance the country feel of your cottage garden and build that first essential cottage garden layout. We have stone walling for that natural exterior, garden edging to light up your winding paths, and lots of traditional flagstone paving to help create your pathways. For more information or advice on your next garden project, get in touch with our expert team today.

    Related Articles

    You can also get extra cottage garden inspiration from some of our other articles:

    Related Articles

    17 Upcycling Garden Ideas on a Budget 17 Upcycling Garden Ideas on a Budget
    10 Modern Garden Path Ideas 10 Modern Garden Path Ideas
    10 Simple Garden Ideas on a Budget 10 Simple Garden Ideas on a Budget
    How to Create a Tranquil, Relaxing Garden How to Create a Tranquil, Relaxing Garden
    Garden Shade Ideas for UK Gardens Garden Shade Ideas for UK Gardens
    Ideas for garden borders and edging Ideas for garden borders and edging