How To Add Vertical Interest (HEIGHT) to Your Cottage Garden

How To Add Vertical Interest (HEIGHT) to Your Cottage Garden

When designing a cottage garden, vary the heights, texture, and color of the space.

You will be pleased with the outcome if you keep this in mind as you are creating and laying out your lovely garden.

Adding height or vertical interest to your cottage garden can be challenging.

Cottage gardens are known for being relaxed and casual so you are free from symmetry when adding vertical interest.

If you plant a tall tree on the right, you don’t have to plant the same tree on the left.

Instead of symmetry, aim for casual balance.

I’m going to show you how I added vertical interest to my cottage garden in various ways and how I attempted to achieve at least a little balance at the same time.

1. Add Vertical Interest to Your Cottage Garden with Trees

Adding vertical interest in the cottage garden - 1. Trees

This river birch planted at the corner of the house will add vertical interest to my cottage garden in a year or two. It will eventually be much taller than the corner of the porch. Hopefully!

Trees are your first choice when adding height to your garden. There are so many options. Just be careful you know how large the tree will be at maturity and plant accordingly.

I have a river birch planted at the corner of my house.

I have used this same tree multiple times in multiple gardens over the years.

It is fabulous when it is fully leafed out but also when all the leaves have fallen.

The bark peels off the trunk and adds so much interest even to the winter garden.

For more tips on how to add interest to your winter garden, see my other blog here.

Near the opposite corner of the house and garden, I planted a lilac tree.

It is a lilac bush that has been pruned to be a tree.

It isn’t exactly on the corner of the house like the birch tree and it will never be remotely as tall. So the goal here was not symmetry.

Its primary purpose is to cover the electrical boxes that had to be at the front of the house.

I didn’t want it to be overwhelming. I just wanted it to add a bit of height and beauty and diversity.

The secondary purpose was to fill the garden with the sweetest scent each spring. So far we are at a 50 percent success rate.

The lilac tree isn’t quite as tall as I want yet. It struggled a bit this past winter and I had to prune it back. I’m hoping it fares better next winter.

However, on the second point, the scent it produced last spring was intoxicating. I am already looking forward to next spring.

There are lots of options of trees you can use for height. My friend has a hydrangea tree that I simply love.

Evergreen trees can also add substantial dramatic vertical interest. Plus they create a great background for other plants.

2. Incorporate Tall Plants in the Cottage Garden for Height

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden - 2. Tall Plants

The ‘Purple Pillar’ Rose of Sharon planted in the back of this cottage garden adds vertical interest.

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden - Rose of Sharon

This ‘Purple Pillar’ Rose of Sharon has bloomed incessantly from mid-summer to late fall. It adds beauty and vertical interest to this cottage garden.

My big win this year was my ‘Purple Pillar’ Rose of Sharon. It was about 2 feet tall when I planted it last spring. It bloomed a little last year. Overall, I was disappointed.

This year, it has flourished. I am stunned at how tall it is. The blooms have been so crazy abundant and incessant.

It is a focal point in my cottage garden. I’m not sure what it will do next year, but I’m enjoying its beauty for now. The vertical interest it adds is golden.

I have also planted an ‘October Magic’ camellia because I saw it at the garden center. Simply put, I couldn’t leave without it.

The foliage is perfect, it is evergreen, and in October…it is magic. Blooms are everywhere all month, such a sweet surprise for the end of the summer.

This camellia grows upright to about 6-8′ so it adds a good deal of vertical interest to the cottage garden.

Also, consider a ‘Sky Pencil’ holly for adding height to your garden. It is evergreen and can be striking.

3. Trellises and Vines Add Height in the Cottage Garden

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden - 3. Trellis

This trellis adds vertical interest and beauty to my cottage garden year-round. The plan is to have a stunning ‘New Dawn’ rose climbing it next year.

Pergolas, arches, trellises, and arbors are great ways to add height to your cottage garden.

If you are unsure of what a trellis is and/or the difference between pergolas, arches, trellises, and arbors, visit my blog HERE for a quick rundown.

Train a vine to climb them and enjoy the blooms in summer.

In the winter, when the vine has died back, you still have interest and height in your garden.

There are so many beautiful options here. Add an arch at the entrance to your path or several along your path. (Gasp. That would be stunning.)

An arbor would be lovely over a bench in the garden with vines climbing up each side.

Insert a pergola at the end of your cottage garden path as a destination. Or place one in front of a blank wall of your home in your cottage garden landscaping.

I chose to use a trellis in my cottage garden as height and to add a different element.

The goal is for my ‘New Dawn’ roses to climb up the trellis and be Nantucketish-gorgeous but this year was a bust.

Japanese beetles ate my joy and then black spot came next.

The good news is that even without the rose blooms, my metal trellis remains a great accent in my garden with its shape and height. I like the effect of the trellis’ black metal among the greenery. 

For ideas on vines to try on your trellis, see my favorites HERE.

4. Birdhouses Can Add Vertical Interest to the Cottage Garden

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden - 4. Birdhouses

This birdhouse gives height and charm to my cottage garden year-round.

I had a leftover 4’x4′ pressure-treated post. I cut it at the height I wanted then stuck it in the ground a couple of feet. A beautiful birdhouse went on top.

It adds vertical interest and beauty to my cottage garden. Plus it remains charming even in winter.

If you want to add a birdhouse to your cottage garden, you can read about some ideas I love HERE.

You could achieve the same idea with a bird feeder or a butterfly house. I love those.

They also have kits you can purchase to make the whole process even easier.

5. Rain Chains Add Vertical Interest in the Cottage Garden 

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden - 5. Rain Chain

A rain chain adds height to the cottage garden. They are so pretty and the sound is lovely. See the previous picture above for an image of it at a distance.

If you’ve never had a rain chain, you are missing out. I wanted one for years. When I finally hung mine, I wondered what took me so long.

They are so graceful, add beauty, lead the eye upward, and the sound is mesmerizing when it rains!

I have mine attached to my house next to my downspout. You can also replace your downspout with a rain chain.

For tips on how to install a rain chain, or really any more info you need, see my blog HERE.

I’m kind of obsessed with rain chains just so you know what to expect. with the blog above.

If your cottage garden is in front of any kind of structure, home or shed or pergola, or barn, you can add a rain chain. You won’t regret it.

6. Use a Flag to Create Height in Your Cottage Garden.

How To Add Vertical Interest To Your Cottage Garden 6. Flag

Mounting a flag in the cottage garden instantly adds vertical interest as well as movement and beauty.

In the garden, a flag waves in the breeze and gently leads the eye upward. It creates movement in the garden.

Mount a flag to the front of the house, an outbuilding, a pergola, or on a flag pole.

There are so many design options to choose from. You can change the flag out with the seasons or just leave the same one up until it is threadbare.

I have traveled all over and LOVE different cultures. But I’m a big fan of the American flag. I love mounting it to the front of a house whether it’s mine or a house we are building for someone else.

The floral ones have captured my eye so many times as well. Choose the flag that speaks to you and fly it proudly.

7. Bottle Trees Add Vertical Interest to the Cottage Garden

Adding vertical interest in the cottage garden 7. Bottle Trees

Bottle trees are a unique way to add vertical interest to the cottage garden. They are also so charming!

I am fascinated with bottle trees. They are whimsical and charming and unexpected.

You can add all blue bottles, mix up the colors, or just add bottles that have meaning to you.

When I sold my last house as a residential contractor, I went out with friends and popped a bottle of champagne for the first time. Yes, I did.

I kept the bottle to add to my bottle tree which I hope to own one day.

Not only would a bottle tree like this have meaning, but it would add a touch of fun to your cottage garden.

Of course, it would work as an item of height as well.

8. Implement Fun Items in the Cottage Garden for Vertical Interest

Adding vertical interest in the cottage garden 8. Garden Stakes

This fun stone heart adds some vertical interest to my cottage garden along with a good measure of charm.

There is a risk here when you start adding items to your cottage garden beyond plants and flowers. You can turn the corner from “whimsical and charming” and end up with “cluttered and junky.”

As a general rule, your plantings should always be abundant compared to your added items. Sometimes less is more.

But it’s YOUR garden. Only you know where that line is. Ultimately, you are creating a space that you enjoy.

I LOVE adding extra items to my garden and would be full-on “junky” if I let myself go.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up this stone heart yard stake. I have enjoyed seeing it in my garden year-round. It is only about 4 feet tall but adds height for now. Soon my garden will be taller than my heart garden stake.

There are so many fun items to choose from as possibilities for adding height to your cottage garden.

You can find some very classy sundials that add charm and class to your cottage garden. Or choose a statue or tall fountain that calls your name.

For simpler additions, you can try a tall wind spinner. It would give great movement in your garden. Or consider putting in a gazing ball.

Develop a plan. But use a pencil. Your cottage garden will begin to speak to you what it wants so make sure you’re listening.  Enjoy the fun!

Tracy Crosland, owner of Hey Honeysuckle

Written by Tracy Crosland

I was born and raised in small town, Tennessee. As an adult, I found myself thrown into the construction business, building new homes in our little town. My son has now taken over the business, which means I do what I want - a lot of playing in my cottage flower garden (zone 7). I hope you feel the love in my garden and in my blogs and that we can be friends.

For more about me, click HERE.

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My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden
(IN A WEEKEND!)

Cottage gardens make me happy!
I want you to be happy too…so this one’s on me.

  • Learn to create your first cottage garden with step-by-step instructions
  • A checklist to keep you on track
  • Images to inspire
  • Increase the value of your home by thousands
  • Explode your happiness quotient
  • Oh, yeah. It’s free! Free happiness.

I want to be happy! Give me the guide!

 

 

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

Cottage gardens make me happy!
I want you to be happy too…so this one’s on me.

  • Learn to create your first cottage garden with step-by-step instructions
  • A checklist to keep you on track
  • Images to inspire
  • Increase the value of your home by thousands
  • Explode your happiness quotient
  • Oh, yeah. It’s free! Free happiness.