Create a country garden from scratch

May 5, 2022In News5 Minutes

A home in a rural location cries out for a classic country garden, but what if you’re buying a new property and are starting with a blank canvas? Fear not, that classic cottage look doesn’t need decades to perfect. In fact, with some clever design, the right planting and some imagination, it’s easy to create a quintessential country space. Here’s some advice and tips to get you started:

  1. Making a Plan

Start by creating a scale drawing of your garden and then allocate different areas depending on how you will use the space. Think about borders, outdoor seating and dining, play areas or even a vegetable patch. Country gardens are relaxed and informal with generous planting, secluded areas and character features. Break up your space with softly winding paths in brick, gravel or grass, natural screening and plant-draped arches and pergolas.

Consider the shape of your garden, taking into consideration any dead or awkward spaces, as well as the view from different rooms in the house. Think about the most appropriate place for different areas, for example a herb garden near the kitchen, wildlife areas away from the house and areas for flower beds with the right amount of sun and shade for your chosen plants.

  1. Creating the cottage garden look

Forget about structured planting and carefully manicured borders, the key to a country garden is to fill your borders with an informal and wide range of plants and flowers which provide an array of fragrance and colour.

Keep your planting tightly packed and layer your borders, with taller plants to the rear and lower plants to the front. Plant the same species in groups of three or five to create real impact and soften fences and other boundaries with climbing plants such as wisteria, roses and jasmine.

Opt for natural materials such as reclaimed railway sleepers, willow screens, wicker furniture and wooden planters.

  1. Choosing the right plants

Popular cottage garden plants include roses, delphiniums, foxgloves, lupins and lavender. Others that epitomise the cottage garden feel include hollyhocks, phlox, cosmos, peonies and sweet peas. You could also incorporate a wildflower area into your garden or a raised bed of wildflowers if you are short on space.

Consider fruit trees such as pear, cherry and damson, for both beautiful spring blossom and summer produce. Make sure you select plants with a mix of different heights, colours, textures and flowering times. Choose hardy perennials and self-seeding plants such as foxgloves and verbenas to ensure you fill your borders year after year.

  1. Incorporating character features

Create interest in your garden with ornaments such as a traditional bench, stone bird bath or sundial. Get imaginative with planting by upcycling wheelbarrows, wooden boxes, terracotta pots or even an old Belfast sink. Consider incorporating partially-hidden features amongst your flowers including small statues and stone finials.

A fire pit or chiminea will create a cosy focus point for an outdoor seating or dining area and a water feature is the perfect calming addition to your country garden.

  1. Encouraging Wildlife

A rich country garden will be a natural haven for birds, animals and insects, but there are easy ways to help encourage wildlife into your outdoor space.

Aim for nectar and pollen-rich varieties of plants that provide natural food for insects, such as jasmine, lavender, clematis and wisteria, and install a bird box or feeder. If you have the space, a small pond is a fantastic way of attracting frogs, newts and dragonflies. A bird bath is the perfect alternative for smaller gardens. Create natural habitats such as areas of dead and decaying wood where insects and worms can find food and shelter.

Finally avoid using chemicals in your garden. Instead opt for peat-free compost and, if you can, source plants that have been grown in peat-free varieties.