I shared an outside tour of our house a few weeks ago, because over the last year, we have done work! Before we got married, I never knew I even enjoyed working in the yard. But, as I bought more houseplants, I became more interested in cultivating them. And that overflowed into our yard as well.
As an adult, it’s hard to spend time outside doing nothing. Rather, we don’t just walk around the yard like a child does when playing. We need something to do! So, yard work gives me something to do outside because I love to be outside but often need that extra push to get me out there!
While on walks in our neighborhood, Jesse and I often talk about what we like about houses and yards. We point out plants we don’t recognize but really like. And we notice yards that especially appeal to us. My favorite yards are ones with a large variety of plants with flower beds that come away from the house into the yard. We learned that our vision most closely correlates to a cottage garden.
The main aspects of a cottage garden that we were looking to implement in our own yard were the variety of plants, year round blooms, and charming pathways and architectural details that would work together to give more curb appeal.
While renting, we planted bushes and flowers in the flower beds at that house. However, the good thing about a rental is we could bring all our plants with us. We dug up any trees, bushes, and flowers we bought ourselves for the yard and transplanted them to this house. That saved us a good bit of money at moving time, because we were able to use what we already had. And once we moved it, we realized we had a pretty good bit. A whole truck load, in fact!
Before we could transplant anything, we had to clear out the existing beds. We cut back all the shrubs and filled in the area with topsoil to build up height against the house. Though we knew we planned to extend the beds at some point, we did not extend them much at first. The top priority was getting the plants into the ground and the yard still looking intentional and cared for.
This first planting involved a lot of guesswork. We didn’t know exactly how much sun and shade each side got. So, we planted things where we wanted them and then left them to see how it would work knowing we would most likely need to move most of it around.
It was fall at the point of this first planting so we actually bought a fair amount of mums to incorporate into the beds. They are an easy perennial to use and bring a variety of color during the fall. (Though ours also bloomed in the spring this past year!) But they give greenery and grow so much each year!
You can also see from this angle that to the side of the house is a pathway to the backyard. While we planned to extend the bed all the way to that path, we initially kept the bed small so that it would be full rather than sparse.
This side of the house is probably my current favorite. The flower bed is over grown and feels the most like what we are going for on all sides. Also, the bush right at the edge of the house is a little wild with a very organic shape that I love.
Once we filled in the beds with topsoil, we laid out the plants and created some order. When creating a cottage garden, it’s good to use larger trees and bushes as anchors to then build from. We planted vintage jade on either side of the front steps with smaller plants around them. On either side of the porch, we planted a fruit tree to serve as the anchor of each side. From there, we built out with bushes and flowers. We mostly used daisies, black-eyed susans, mums, and hosta at that time.
That initial planting provided a good start and set us in the direction we were wanting to go in creating a cottage garden. Shrubs are easier in terms of maintenance and immediacy. The yard would have looked more complete from the start if we stuck with shrubs and cleaned up what already existed. However, I like the variety and interest the cottage garden provides. Even if it does take time for everything to take root and grow! Once the plants have a few years to mature, it will really start to take shape and look like a proper cottage garden!