How to Start a Cottage Flower Garden


Small flower gardens create an intimate and colorful design touch to your outdoor landscape. Mix perennials with annuals to create a lush and layered cottage garden. Use a trellis to grow creeping vines like jasmine or train your vegetables on. Cucumbers and peas work well on a trellis and will help save space on the ground for planting other flowers. Nestle colorful containers throughout the space for added beauty.

Step 1

Observe your cottage garden to determine the exact amount of sunlight and shade the garden receives on a daily basis. Before you buy plants, study their preferred growing environment to ensure they will flourish in your cottage garden.

Step 2

Sketch out an outline of the garden to help guide you through the planting process. Outlines allow you to make a quick change and help to avoid unnecessary digging around the garden area.

Step 3

Begin at the back of the garden bed and work your way up and around to help create balance. Start by planting perennials, which come back each year, fuller and stronger. Plant flowering bushes and plants that bloom in the spring to ensure color in the cottage garden throughout the growing season.

Step 4

Plant bulbs, which pop out of the soil in late winter and early spring, to add color and help fill in the small garden. Crocuses and daffodils begin to emerge in early spring and provide variety in your flower garden.

Step 5

Fill in your garden with annuals like petunias and pansies. Their short life span is perfect for filling in empty spaces. Add them to containers and change them through the season for different garden looks and designs.

Step 6

Use containers inside the garden space. Containers allow the gardener to control the soil environment and can easily be moved around the garden. If the flower becomes diseased, the rest of the garden is not affected, and it can be safely removed from the space. Easily changed out from season to season, containers add character to small gardens.

Step 7

Plant a vibrant focal point inside your cottage garden. Climbing roses over a garden shed or trellis create a stunning focal point. Make sure to scale it down to size so it won't take over the space. Miniature butterfly bushes are smaller than the typical bush and can also make a stunning yet smaller-sized focal point.

Things You'll Need

  • Seedlings
  • Containers


  • Sunset
  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: cottage garden, flowers, small garden

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer and photographer in North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Forbes and Automotive News magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.