Cottage gardens began as kitchen gardens, close to the backdoor and protected from farm animals with fencing. Flowers for scenting the home and herbs for flavoring foods were soon added to the vegetables and fruits. Cottage gardens have an air of informality about them according to Charlie Ryrie, author of "The Country Garden." Combine the country garden with a patio for relaxing.
Clear the area where you've decided to locate the cottage patio garden. Remove debris, rocks and litter. Dig out a square in the middle of the area 4 inches deep for the patio. Lay a 3-inch bed of sand in the depression. Rake the sand smooth. Level it with a scrap piece of wood. Place cement stepping stones in the sand so they are slightly above the level of dirt surrounding the patio area. Lay a path of stepping stones from the patio to the entry of the enclosed garden.
Dig up the rest of the soil surrounding the patio to a depth of 12 inches. Add compost. A good ratio is one-third compost to two-thirds garden soil. Add in slow-release fertilizer. Mix well and rake smooth. The level of soil may be slightly above the stepping stones, because you've mixed air into the soil and fluffed it up while adding in compost. As soon as you water the soil it should sink down to its original level. If the soil level is more than 1 inch above the stepping stones, remove some soil to another area.
Install the split-rail fence around the garden and patio. Dig post holes at least 12 inches deep and twice as wide as the post. Insert posts and fill the hole half-way with gravel and then to the top with soil. Water each post hole to settle the soil. Check to make sure the posts are level and that the indentation for the split rail is at the same height on all posts. Insert the split rails. Install the gate. The country garden patio is now enclosed.
Plant vegetables, herbs and flowers in the garden. Most country gardens have an informal mix of all three. Grow sunflowers and hollyhocks along one fence to enclose the garden even more. Grow strings beans, peas and cucumbers up teepees made with pruned branches from your trees. Place five 6-foot long branches in a rough circle with a diameter of about 2 feet. Tie the tops together to form a teepee shape.
Country garden flowers include daisies, lavender, roses, cosmos and zinnias. Herbs include dill, parsley, basil, sage and rosemary. Vegetables include those already mentioned plus tomatoes, peppers and squash for summer, and cabbages, broccoli and leafy greens for spring.