You may not live in a charming English cottage, but you can create your own English garden at home. English cottage design is definitely having a moment with grandmillennial styles and I am here for it!
English gardens that I love are informal, welcoming, and have a touch of whimsy. The casual, low-maintenance style makes planting an English garden much less intimidating.
English Garden Design Elements
If you look at different English garden images, you can begin to see common elements that are included in these gardens. Incorporating these elements in your garden will begin to create the English cottage vibe.
1 | Native Plants
When planning garden, choose plants that are native to the climate and soil where you live. Native perennials and annuals are much easier to care for because they thrive in a specific climate.
For my garden, I chose plants that do well in my Ohio climate zone (6) and plants that thrive in sandy soil. There are two main types of soil where I live, sandy and clay. Even in the same climate zone, plants can react very differently to the soil where they are planted.
I chose a variety of plants that were primarily greens, purples, and pinks. Choosing plants and flowers with different shapes and sizes helps to give the look of abundance in your garden.
Popular Plants Found In English Gardens
- Blackeyed Susans
2 | Natural Materials – Stones / Pebbles /Pea Gravel
Adding natural stones to a garden helps to create that casual feeling you want to achieve. Pathways with natural materials look much more organic and relaxed compared to precise concrete sidewalks.
Cobblestone, brick, or pea gravel walkways look incredibly charming winding through a garden.
Along with winding pathways, stone retaining walls can also be found in many English gardens. I love how these walls create the feeling of a secret garden.
3 | Water Features
English gardens are an oasis for pollinators and birds. Including water features that invite pollinators and birds to stay awhile in the garden is a great addition. Adding a simple birdbath to your garden can do the trick, or building a small pond. If you are lucky enough to have a stream running throughout your property, consider incorporating it into your English garden design.
4 | Bricks
Adding brick borders or edging helps create a little more structure to a large garden without feeling too formal. I love using old, imperfect bricks to edge our gardens. The varying colors in bricks are a lovely touch to border overflowing flowerbeds with greenery and flowers.
5 | Arbors
Arbors are the perfect place for climbing plants to really show off.
It is common to see plants like climbing roses, hydrangea or clematis, surrounding an iron or wood arbor.
I found this old iron arbor on the side of the road and fixed it up for our own English garden. With a little sanding and black spraypaint, this arbor is as good as new! Soon I will plant climbing hydrangea to begin winding up the iron sides.
6 | Seating Areas
Another common element found in English gardens is seating options. Whether it is a weathered, wooden chair or a concrete bench, these gardens welcome visitors to sit and enjoy the view.
7 | White Picket Fence / Iron Fence
So many inspiration photos I pinned include a white picket fence as the backdrop of an English garden. Oftentimes, these fences are slightly weathered, which adds to the feel of a casual garden. Iron fencing or gates are also commonly found in these gardens.
8 | Whimsical Garden Decor
Including a few sculptural elements add to the fun of this style of gardening. Items like colorful spheres, a small concrete sculpture of a garden critter, or hummingbird feeders can surprise and delight guests while walking through your English garden.
English gardens are a place to learn about plants and tweak the design if something doesn’t feel right or gets too large. If you choose hardy perennial plants, they can always be transplanted or split as they grow larger each year. I hope you enjoy the slow learning of growing a garden as much as I do!
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