Rustic gardening is all about planning a space with Old-World charm. Rustic gardens look as if they've been there for years--think of the country-garden idea of perennials, trees and shrubbery, matched with accessories that have a pleasingly well-worn look. Designing your own rustic space involves just a few key components--the right type of plants, paths or patio material, and decor that fits your needs and tastes. The right accessories are key: The more of a beating they take from the elements, the better they look.
Selecting the Right Plants
"Rustic" indicates a woodsy, outdoor feel. It's about being natural, purposefully slightly unkempt, perhaps. Perennials are the flower for such a job. Chose a mixture of shapes and textures for a more natural look, but unlike the country garden design where flowers are the main focus, keep your flowers to a more minimal design. Plant coneflowers or shasta daisies among large rocks, shrubs or around the base of benches and birdbaths. Sticking to native plants is always best for the most realistic garden.
Paths and Patios
Earthy materials are key. Patios with winding paths through the garden space should be of natural materials. Crushed limestone or limestone stepping stones through hardy moss or grass are great choices. Aged brick-laid patios work better than concrete. Use paths to create "rooms" through your garden, turning even a small space into different livable areas. Wind a path to a bench, another to a garden shed, a third to your veggie patch.
Rustic design is as much about what you put into your yard as the plants you grow. The aged look is always better in rustic design. Choose aged wrought iron for fences or gates, weathered teak for benches and chairs. Add touches of whimsy with signs and concrete statuary tucked into ferns or black-eyed Susans for that "overgrown" look.
Use birdbaths and birdhouses to attract flying friends. Age concrete or terra cotta pots with a painting technique or by encouraging moss growth with a buttermilk dip for pots kept in shady areas. Tuck old shovels in corners, use antique gardening plows as a trellis for a morning glory or ivy, and hang old tools on shed walls as a focal point.