These days, it can be hard to keep up with housework and gardening. Schedules are packed, kids need shuttling around to activities, and when you finally have a few minutes of downtime, you probably don’t want to spend it picking weeds or cleaning intricate tile. This is what’s drawn many people to the idea of a maintenance-free garden that looks great but takes little work.
A cottage garden is a little slice of heaven. It can be a place that’s relaxed, fun, colorful and most importantly, personal. Below we outline 5 tips to create your perfect cottage garden: one that reflects your home and that’s simple for you to care for.
Consider your materials
IF you’re building out a specific area for your garden, you have a lot to think about in terms of surfaces and materials. Will you opt for traditional brick or stone? Fill the entire plot with plants? Include a grassy area? Or even pave a path with tile?
Whichever direction you go, consider the maintenance needed for each and every piece of your garden. Intricate tile can be beautiful but needs to be regularly cleaned to look nice. Grass is lush and lovely, but when you’re strapped for time to care for it properly, turf may be a better alternative. Starting with materials will help you make design choices that work for you and your lifestyle.
Select hearty plants
Old-fashioned favorites for cottage gardens include foxglove, hollyhocks, irises, daisies, hydrangeas, roses, peonies, hostas, lupines, violas, pansies, phlox, Johnny jump-ups, primrose, delphinium, wisteria, snapdragons, bachelor’s buttons, columbine and bleeding hearts. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow tradition.
Consider the flowers you love, and then think about the environment you’ll be able to provide them. If you’re in a mostly shaded plot, consider ferns, hostas, or other shade-friendly plants. Lastly, consider seasonality and be aware of any plants that may not make it through the cool winter months, since you’ll have to work to replace them come spring.
It’s lovely to have a place to sit and enjoy your garden, and adding seating in the form or a bench or a few chairs is also a great way to break up the visual clutter of a large number of plants and flowers. Depending on the type of seating, these objects can also add another visual interest element to a garden.
In addition to seating, containers for a few plants are another great way to fill in spots that may be a little sparse – or to provide that extra pop of color from a pot of your favorite flower. As you’re building out your garden, don’t forget that you have more than plants at your disposal – lean on these structures to build a truly customized and visually diverse space.
Take it slow
When you’re just getting started with a new garden, it can be tempting to fill your entire space. Your ambition can take over. But many people quickly learn that it’s smart to take things piece by piece, starting small and building your perfect oasis over time.
By starting with one small footprint or even one type of plant, you give yourself time and space to get used to the idea of maintaining a garden. You can start to develop routines that allow you to acclimate over time, rather than diving in all at once and becoming overwhelmed. This approach allows you to grow with and into your garden – and don’t worry, you’ll still be able to build a larger garden of your dreams if you so desire.
Make it automatic
Maybe the best investment you can make to keep your cottage garden retreat low-maintenance is to make as many pieces as possible automatic. Need regular watering? Consider a drip-hose instead of one attached to the house. You can also design your own automatic plant-feeder if needed.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun while creating your perfect cottage garden. It’s your space – enjoy it!