Ideas for Cottage Gardens

The cottage garden, wild and ostensibly unruly, isn't one that control freaks necessarily favor. But growers like it for its simplistic concept of growing whatever they please to form a riotous mixture of color, form and purpose. Annuals, perennials and biennials are grown closely together to provide an explosive eye and nose-pleasing array that represents what the grower likes best. To ensure controlled chaos is maintained, guidance can be gleaned from key concepts and suggestions.


Washington State University says adding stationary objects to a cottage garden can give it more of a focal point. A few old farm tools and implements, pieces found at yard and garage sales and décor from garden centers can add whimsy, as long as there are not too many of them. Mosaic stepping stones, bird baths and benches can also serve practical as well as aesthetic functions.

Shade Plants

Shaded areas can be more challenging to fill, but shouldn't necessarily be ignored. Certain cultivars, like perennial hostas, annual impatiens and ground cover like forget-me-nots, enjoy growing in the shade and can provide color with blooms or eye-catching foliage.


The purpose of a cottage garden is actually to highlight the cottage, according to Texas A&M University. So design elements should take their cues from the home's style. A garden that grows too large in size will overwhelm a smaller house, for instance. But non-clashing structural features, like fencing or an arbor, can accent or enhance a cottage.


Because cottage gardens by definition include several plant varieties, keeping control of it can be difficult, particularly for the sole gardener with a full-time job. Knowledge of plant growing and maintenance requirements is helpful before planting occurs. Materials like mulch can decrease time spent weeding, and simple irrigation methods can make watering easier.

Grouping and Repetition

Texas A&M University cautions against planting single plants in areas. Instead, it suggests planting groups of the same varieties in various locations. Simultaneously, such repetition can help maintain theme, rhythm and symmetry. Gardeners can choose to focus on their favorite color, like pink, when it comes to planting flowering plants, or can hone in on a complimentary scheme.

Vegetables and Herbs

Plants grown for their visual appeal are found most often in a cottage garden. But vegetables and herbs that have attractive, as well as practical attributes can also be added to maximize appeal and practicality. For instance, basil varieties come in many colors, most of which are tasty in salads and entrees too. Pole beans, along with providing healthy, cheap produce, grow vertically and provide a garden with height.

Keywords: cottage garden, cottage garden ideas, cottage garden tips

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.