How to Design an Enclosed Cottage Garden


Cottage gardens evoke visions of country settings, picket fences, hollyhocks and sunflower plants. Haphazard plantings and meandering paths represent the norm. Make the fence around your cottage garden as casual and laid back as the garden itself. Use a variety of plants in your cottage garden: perennials, annuals, vines, bushes and roses all fit the style. Vegetable plantings also occupied the cottage gardens of yore. Add a modern touch by including whimsical signs, wooden ornaments and statues.

Step 1

Decide on the size of your garden and measure the perimeter.The major home and garden centers sell individual pickets, or sections of picket fencing and ready-made gates in wood or plastic. If you prefer to design a fence other than picket, remember that cottage gardens are informal. Rustic wood or even chicken wire stays within the design parameters of the cottage garden, but intricate scrolled rod-iron looks out of place.

Step 2

Purchase the materials and build the fence or install a ready-made fence. Install the gates on the fence directly across from each other and attach the arbors over the gates.

Step 3

Amend the soil with compost, manure or other organic matter before planting. If you're not sure what kind of amendment to buy, ask a gardening sales associate at the garden center for help.

Step 4

Lay the paths in the garden. Use flagstone, gravel, or any other material you wish. Redwood bark also makes good paths. In a cottage garden, the less planned out it looks, the better it conforms to the cottage garden style, so stay away from geometric shapes when laying the paths.

Step 5

Buy plants for the garden. Planting vegetables with the plants adheres to the cottage garden philosophy. When purchasing flowers for the garden, think of country flowers. Cottage gardens began as peasant gardens. Therefore, expensive, rare or high-maintenance plants look out of place. Plant flowers such as vining roses for the arbors, cosmos, foxglove, rose bushes, hollyhocks, columbines, lavender, daisies, geraniums and delphiniums, for example. Use plants such as boxwoods, but let them grow freely.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep in mind that the cottage garden is labor intensive.

Things You'll Need

  • Picket fencing
  • Two gates
  • Hardware for gates
  • Two arched arbors
  • Plants
  • Flagstone
  • Gravel
  • Soil amendments


  • "Beds and Borders"; Doug Jimerson; 2010
  • "The Flower Garden Book"; Bay Books; 2009
  • "Annuals"; Jennifer Calvert; 2009
  • "Perennials & Bulbs; Jennifer Calvert; 2009
  • "Designing the Country Cottage Garden": Henry Flowers; 2003

Who Can Help

  • "English Cottage Gardening: For American Gardeners"; Margaret Hensel and Tasha Tudor; 2000
Keywords: design cottage garden, fenced cottage garden, informal cottage garden

About this Author

Brenda Reeves started writing in 1979. Specializing in gardening topics, her articles appear on numerous Web sites, including eHow. Reeves has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from California State University, Northridge.