10 Elements of a Cottage Garden: Creating A Beautiful, Cozy Backyard Space

Cottage Garden Elements

What does cottage garden style consist of? To me, it’s so much more than just the actual garden space. Today I am sharing all of the cottage garden design elements I have incorporated – these helped create a beautiful, cozy space our entire family enjoys all season.

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When we moved into our home, I had so many dreams for our outdoor space. Each year, this beautiful space continues to come together, and today I am sharing 10 cottage garden elements that I have incorporated!

Tips for a whimsical garden
Cottage home exterior makeover adding charm and character
Gorgeous flower bushes growing around home exterior

Before I begin, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I am currently in Germany visiting my husband’s family. This is our last week here, and it is very bittersweet. This visit was full of so many beautiful historic buildings, landscapes and homes, and if you watched any of my stories, you know I shared so many beautiful garden spaces as well.

It might be hard to believe, but I recorded this week’s YouTube video before our visit here. This was a big trip for us, and I wanted to be prepared ahead of time so I could truly be in the moment during our stay. It has been incredible – an international flight with four boys, luggage lost and so much more to tell, which I promise to share later on!

I didn’t have many expectations prior to our visit, but I cannot express enough how incredibly beautiful this country is. The GORGEOUS gardens and outdoor spaces played a major role in this, and I was so happy to see so many cottage garden elements in all of these spaces that truly added so much charm!

Cottage Garden Elements

Flowers for cottage gardening surrounded by reclaimed wood
Tips for raised flower beds

Fencing – White Picket or Other

One cottage garden element that I love is our white picket fence. Your fence doesn’t have to be white, any type of fencing or hedges to give your garden area a border will work. Reclaimed wood would also work beautifully!

Cottage garden inspiration

White picket fencing is so classic and beautiful, and I love it around our property but you wouldn’t necessarily have to have it everywhere. Around a small herb garden, or your vegetable garden would still bring so much charm to your space and incorporate the cottage feel you are going for! Although I personally don’t have one, arches with your fencing would be a great feature to your garden as well.

Shorter fences not only provide structure for your plants to grow against and around, but they also help keep animals out of your yard, which is super helpful if you are growing any vegetables or fruit.

Flowers planted behind fence surrounding yard of english cottage influenced home

I love that fencing also gives you a border to work around as well. You can use the fence as a border to play off of and know where to plant different plants that are classic for a cottage style garden.


Having a walkway, pathway, or different types of walkways throughout your outdoor space is a classic element of a cottage garden. Your walkways can be anything – flagstone, brick, wood planks, pea gravel, or even stone! They add different textures to your garden space, and also look gorgeous surrounded by flowers.

Last year, we ended up planted hostas around this simple walkway we installed in our yard space, they are sturdy and do well in Michigan weather. Once a year they bloom simple beautiful purple flowers as well!

How to add charm and character to your shed!

We installed this walkway that leads into backyard space a few years ago. We used reclaimed wood planks and the entire DIY project can be found here.

Reclaimed wood walkway with pea gravel

We simply dug up the grass with a shovel, creating a rectangle the same depth as the boards. We put down some weed barrier fabric, laid down our boards, and filled in the gaps with pea gravel. I love how it came together and how it leads into our backyard space!


Incorporating a flower garden full of perennials (honeysuckle, peonies, wisteria, delphinium, foxgloves, clematis or lavender to name a few) into our backyard space brought such a magical, cottage garden feel. Perennials, unlike annuals, are perfect for your cottage garden as well, because they come back year after year full of gorgeous flowers for you to enjoy! Plus, butterflies and pollinators like bees love perennials.

Pink yarrow is lovely addition to our cottage garden

We originally wanted a vegetable garden in this space, but after learning that the reclaimed wood my husband used to build the raised garden beds had been treated, we decided to plant flowers instead. I have never regretted this decision and I enjoy this space so much each year now!

Perennials blooming in spring inside rustic DIY flower boxes in backyard gardens

I have an entire post on all of the perennials we used here in our cottage garden, but we do live in zone 6, so be sure to check what zone you are in before deciding which flowers will be best to plant in your own cottage garden. I love whites, purples, blues and pinks and all of these together are so beautiful.

Daisies are a beautiful addition to our raised flower beds!


I recently shared an entire post about stone I love it so much. Stone always brings a cottage element to any space, indoor or outdoor! Stone can be used in a huge variety of ways too, as a border, as a fencing or border, between gardens, as a patio and more.

DIY Outdoor Patio

I love all of the ways we have used stone and I am sure I will continue using it wherever I can! Stone, and different types of stone are always seen in any type of cottage inspired gardening. They bring rustic cottage charm and can be easily installed as well. I find stone to be a cleaner look to wood chips.

Our cottage style home now has a white picket fence that surrounds the backyard, with stacked stone underneath
A tour of our DIY raised flower beds

Found Items

As much as I love how our outdoor space has come together, I still enjoy scrolling through Pinterest for even more cottage gardening inspiration. It is very rare when looking at cottage gardens to not see found items.

Vintage galvanized buckets are perfect for planting herbs on the patio!

Found items can be anything outdoor related that you can incorporate into your space. Personally, I love galvanized metal pots and watering cans, antique lanterns, beautiful vintage garden tools, old wheelbarrows, buckets, reclaimed wood and more.

Perennials for a Cottage Garden

These items are fairly easy to find as well, I have found most of mine antiquing, thrifting and visiting garage sales. I actually can use most of the antique and vintage watering cans I have found, but I love the rustic charm they bring anywhere I have them displayed outside.


Beautiful growing shrubs and plants are definitely a cottage garden inspired element. I have seen so many gorgeous ideas, and while visiting Germany, saw so many in person as well! From full blooming plants like lilac bushes, to neatly trimmed shrubs like boxwoods.

Gorgeous flower bushes growing around home exterior

I also saw many garden and outdoor spaces use shrubs in place of fences or around fences for privacy. This natural element used as a border creates a secret garden space for you to enter into along with plenty of privacy as well.

We have planted several lilac and snowball bushes around our fence line. I am trying to be patient as they grow a little bigger each year, but they aren’t quite there yet. I am so excited to see them grow and provide us a little extra privacy in our own space.

Climbing Plants

There are so many varieties of climbing plants that you can choose to incorporate a cottage feel in your outdoor space. There is nothing like a beautiful arbor, trellises, pergola or wall of a garage or home that has tall, rambling, full plants growing all over it. It is such a common feature of cottage gardening and rare not to see it.

I personally love climbing flowers and vines, they are a gorgeous cottage element we have yet to incorporate in our outdoor space. I would love to plant some climbing flowers up the side of our shed in our backyard pictured below. Wouldn’t it be such a lovely backdrop for our flower garden?!

Cottage Garden Elements in Backyard space

I also love to see climbing flowers on arbors in gardens and have considered getting a beautiful arched arbor leading into our garden for quite some time. They are so beautiful to walk through, and I love the charm the growing and hanging flowers bring.

Gorgeous flower bushes in english cottage yard of home exterior


Having different types of lighting throughout your space in addition to your porch lights can really bring a cozy, charming cottage feel to your outdoor area, especially towards the end of the day and after sunset.

DIY pea gravel patio

I personally love to have outdoor lights strung above our pea gravel patio area as well as candles in lanterns throughout our space. They bring a cozy ambiance, especially in the evenings when we are enjoying the shade outdoors together as a family.

Our pea gravel patio in the summertime

Central Focal Point

Most cottage gardens tend to have a central focal point that brings the family or group together in the space. Our family chose to install a fire pit area with beautiful cottage inspired white adirondack chairs. We can enjoy all of these beautiful cottage elements in our yard from this space.

How to add charm and character to your shed!

If fire pits aren’t really something you are interested in, there are a lot of different things you can have as a focal point. A beautiful fountain or birdbath would be a perfect addition and bring plenty of charm as well.


Having different seating areas throughout your yard is another simple, yet practice English cottage garden element. We have a DIY table and chairs set up on our pea gravel patio, but I also have a few different benches throughout the yard as well.

DIY back patio area in backyard of english cottage influenced yard and garden tour

Your seating doesn’t have to be complicated, a simple stained wood plank on stacked concrete blocks, or folded chairs and a cafe table set up under a shady area in your yard will instantly add charm.

Super simple diy outdoor bench!

Cottage Garden Elements

  • Fencing
  • Walkways
  • Perennials
  • Stone
  • Found Items
  • Shrubs
  • Climbing Plants
  • Lighting
  • Central Focal Point
  • Seating
Tips for planting a cottage garden
DIY Flower gardens blooming in flower boxes in backyard of home exterior
cottage garden elements

Once again friends, I am so excited to share all about our trip to Germany soon along with all of the cottage inspiration I gained there, so be sure to be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, I hope these cottage garden elements have inspired you! I would love to know what you think in the comments below!


Cottage Garden Elements


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  1. Andrea, why did you plant your flowers in raised beds instead of directly in the ground? I would think the plants would be more likely to freeze.

    Loved every minute of your trip to Germany! If it’s not too personal, can I ask how your husband wound up in Michigan?

    1. Thank you so much Gwen, I am about to share so much about our trip and Mike and I, and I am so excited! As far as the garden beds, it was because we originally built the raised beds for vegetables, but found out the wood was treated, so ended up just planting flowers in them.

  2. Love your cottage garden! I enjoyed your post about your cottage garden and all the elements that can be added. I am in the process of making my own cottage garden so this post was awesome!

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