How To Create Your Own Cottage Garden

Text by Hannah Jones

A garden is an essential part to every cottage. Whether it’s just a few small plants on a patio or a full-blown botanist’s paradise, a little bit of green goes a long way with curb appeal. No matter the current state of your garden, we’ve got the tips and tricks below to create the yard of your dreams in no time.

For the Beginner

Photography by John O’Hagan

When starting your garden, there are a few things that are essential to evaluate. One: your climate. Each climate zone has a specific planting time, so it’s necessary to know what zone you’re in before you start planting. Two: the amount of sun your garden receives. Different plants need different levels of sunlight, and too much or too little sun can actually kill plants. Watch your garden for a few days to take note of the number of hours of sunlight it gets each day. Pay special attention to what time your garden gets the most sun—afternoon sun is typically much harsher and more intense than morning sun. After you’ve done your research, you can get to planting! We suggest buying your plants pre-potted instead of as seeds—starting seeds requires a little more effort and knowledge. Some simple plants you could start with are marigolds, petunias, hostas, herbs, daylilies, daffodils, and succulents. When repotting your new plant, gently push around the plastic pot it came in, and slowly pull out the plant at the base. Loosen the bottom of the roots so they will grow into the new dirt and replant.

For the Intermediate

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Photography by William Dickey

As a gardener with average knowledge, you most likely know your climate zone and sun level, and you’re probably a pro by now with the easy plants. So start having a little fun! Hydrangeas are pretty easy to grow and great plants for experimenting because they change hues based on the acidity of the soil. Plant one and then test the pH level of your soil through the coming weeks to see if you notice a difference. You could also experiment with seed starting indoors in the early spring and transfer your tiny plants outdoors when they’re large enough. We also suggest focusing on the overall design of your garden at this point. Map out your garden and evaluate the different areas and the amount of sunlight each one gets instead of considering the garden as a whole. Start mixing your beds with various annuals and perennials based on colors and soil types. Have fun with your potted plants and create complete arrangements instead of putting a single plant in each pot.

For the Expert


Odds are there’s not much that we can tell you that you don’t already know! Avid gardeners really just need time to make the garden of their dreams come to fruition. Our most practical tip would be to map out your garden well, as we mentioned for the intermediate gardener. Watch as your perennials flourish year after year and plan what you’re going to add to your garden each year, so you don’t get bored. The new addition doesn’t always have to be plants! It could be a new bench or piece of unique yard art, maybe a birdhouse or feeder. Anything that keeps you enjoying the beauty of your garden creation is a positive choice.

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