English style gardens

30 Elegant English Garden Designs and Ideas


Peg Aloi

Peg Aloi

Peg Aloi is a professional gardener covering plants in various contexts, from recipes to heirloom orchard fruits. Her area of interest is the folklore of plants and herbs. She's worked as a garden designer for public housing, individual homes, and businesses, and gives workshops on various gardening topics.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

Updated on 11/23/22

Peg Aloi

From the formal gardens on the grounds of castles and grand estates, to the humble cottage gardens in villages, to the allotments popular in many urban areas, England is a nation of gardeners. It's not hard to achieve an English garden look, though some knowledge of horticulture and design is helpful, to help select plants suitable for your region and climate.

What defines the look of an English garden? There are a number of visual themes one sees again and again: large drifts of colorful perennials, color themes, and a full look with a wide variety of textures are all common sights. Authors such as William Robertson (The English Flower Garden) helped bring knowledge and techniques for creating herbaceous borders to the public in the 1800s, marking a modern trend away from the formalism of more classical European gardens. The legendary garden designer and author Gertrude Jekyll was celebrated for her bold approach to color, including single-color-themed gardens and the geometric diagonal shapes creating the recognizable drifts of plants in borders.

Fortunately, with a bit of preparation and inspiration, the English garden look is not too difficult to achieve, no matter where you live. Here are 30 English garden ideas to inspire you to create your own.

15 Best English Garden Ideas

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Here's how to create the English-style garden of your dreams.

By Rebekah Lowin

If you love the look and feel of an English garden, you're not alone. The combo of neatly trimmed hedges, intimate little paths, and lush flower beds can make a space look and feel like a hidden little nook of luxury. If you're looking for fresh landscaping ideas for your space, it's worth taking a page or two from this iconic style to make your yard into the English garden of your dreams.

Of course, if you're planning on changing things up in your yard, you might be wondering: What is an English garden, anyway? Here's what you should know: The term isn't easily defined, but it generally refers to a romantic, sweeping landscape design in which the land overflows with plants and lush flowers in an organic-looking sort of way. First developed in 18th-century England, it is thought that the English garden was initially intended to go against the "architectural gardens" of the time, which were far more rigid in structure, pattern, and shaping.

The trick to recreating the style at home: Combine tradition and elegance with a sense of whimsy. Opt for meandering paths, meadow-like florals, twisting ivy, friendly iron gates, and other fairytale-inspired features you'd expect to see in an old-fashioned house in the British countryside. Here are more than a dozen tips and tricks for getting the ideal effect. Looking for more? Check out our big backyard ideas, our small backyard ideas, and some recommended types of flowers all to help your garden grow. Let's get planting!


Aim for plenty of variety.

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Tall plants, short plants, pink flowers, white flowers—all of these things can be placed next to one another in an English garden. Of course, you'll have to make some adjustments to ensure that all of your plants have access to sunlight and aren't too crowded, but in general, it's best not to overthink a garden like this one and instead to opt for a free-flowing plan.



Meandering paths are a lovely touch.

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At first glance, a garden path might seem like too much work. But actually, it couldn't be simpler to source and lay the right one for your garden—and the payoff is big. Not only will you give yourself an easy route in and out of the space, but you'll also be afforded the luxury of watering your plants without having to step into tall grasses or get your shoes muddy. It's a win-win!



Add a gate.

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There are few things more magical in an English garden than a simple gateway. They're easy enough to purchase and install, and the visual impact is huge. Don't have a wall into which to install your new structure? You can also buy stand-alone designs that can be surrounded by simple bushes and vines.



Think vertically too.

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It's not just about what's on the ground! Be sure to think about the "y-axis" of your space as well. Consider adding a trellis or simply twisting ivy, draping wisteria, and high-flying vines around a shed or other already-existing structure.



Incorporate seating.

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English gardens are meant to be enjoyed and savored, which is why they often include benches. What better way to sit and take in all the beauty around you? Wooden, stone, and metal structures all work beautifully in these spaces.



Create lush and full garden beds for a cottage look.

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Plant of variety of flowers—roses, lavender, delphinium, and other colorful options—close together to replicate garden you'd find in the countryside. A dense and rich garden with plenty of character is what you're after.



Keep hedges well trimmed.

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Large, well-trimmed bushes work well for dividing spaces, creating paths, acting as walls, and even for separating various parts of the garden. This will give you even more areas to fill with plants to enjoy. If you like, you can even create separate areas for entertaining friends and family.



Use unique shapes and clean lines.

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English gardens aren't just floral masterpieces, they're incredibly architectural, as well. Map out your garden with plenty of squares and circles to create a sense of busy space.



Add roses everywhere.

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When it comes to gardening, nothing's more English than a fragrant rose bush.



Make a bold statement by planting in profusion.

Lisa Hubbard

Avoid the temptation to snap up every variety that catches your eye. You can achieve a lavish look like this with just two types of climbing rose: 'William Baffin' and 'New Dawn.' The bottom line: You only need to plant a few kinds of things, but do it in big sweeps.



Embrace high-contrast combos.

Lisa Hubbard

While citrus-hued daylilies are already pretty splashy on their own, buck conventional wisdom by pairing them with alliums in equally assertive but seemingly contradictory shades of purple—to brilliant result. Color is particularly important where you don't have structure.



Define a garden with horticulture and structure.

Lisa Hubbard

The couple who own the garden pictured initially installed one of these quaint shelters to attract bluebirds, only to see it occupied by swallows. So they tried another...and another...and wound up with an unintended benefit: The line of roosts provides the suggestion of a garden wall.



Furniture doesn't have to blend into the background.

Lisa Hubbard

Instead of the usual grays, greens, and blacks, choose hot, bold hues for outdoor chairs. The result: a stunning focal point that draws attention to the view beyond.



Don't forget the view from inside.

Lisa Hubbard

Does your bedroom overlook an arbor? Try planting a trumpet vine at each of an arbor structure's six posts. It will look like the vines are floating in the air from a second-story window, plus they bloom from July to the first frost.



Sun and shade can get along just fine.

Lissa Hubbard

Embrace an area with a collision of light and shadows to create a cozy dining area. Hydrangea petiolaris thrives in the shade provided by a north-facing potting shed wall, while desert agaves soak up the bright daytime light.


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10 basic elements of an English garden.

English style in landscape design. Photo — Botanichka

The appearance of a traditional English garden with all its pastorality and harmony remains for many today not only a source of inspiration, but also a model of perfection. It is impossible to explain the magic of the English style of landscape design simply by climate or temperament. A unique sense of proportion, the ability to bring nobility even to the simplest flower beds, the art of using contrasts not for bright images, but for comfort and atmosphere, a special attitude to the balance of functionality and aesthetics has always distinguished an exemplary English garden. And today his canons remain unshakable and unique. But not so secret that the English design could not be recreated on your site.

English style garden

In any style of landscape design there are those elements without which a garden project will not succeed. The canons, or basic design principles that define the nature of the garden, are easily recognizable and inimitable, and do not violate even the most daring designers even in modern interpretations. There are especially many such "laws" and "rules" in the English garden. After all, the style of a traditional British garden is distinguished by the same stiffness that English interiors are famous for. True, it is not so easy to capture individual elements in this style: the atmosphere and sensations in an English garden are sometimes more important than specific means of expressing an idea. Let's try to outline 10 basic elements that underlie the English garden.

Strict framework for a colorful show

An English garden is, first of all, a garden with a thoughtful structure. Its main purpose is to create a walking area, such a landscape and a series of objects that you want to walk around endlessly and admire, against the background of which not only the body, but also the soul can rest. The "set" of mandatory zones and objects in such a garden is limited. And it is limited by a fairly strict list of generally accepted techniques that “repel” from home. A large lawn or lawn, a front garden, an arbor or a pavilion, an orchard or orchard with an ornamental vegetable garden, a pond - these are the objects that are present in a traditional English garden. Zones are separated by neat trimmed green hedges or stone walls. Brightly highlighting the main objects, such a garden creates a well-defined framework. And on the remaining territory, a game unfolds with picturesque ensembles, turned into an ideal park for walking, in which amazing harmony reigns.

The space between the structural elements is divided into walking zones and framed with the help of ridges and flower beds, interconnected by lawn, paved paths or soft paths appealing to gravel entrances. Flower beds are most often represented by a series of repeating flowerbeds framed by strict boxwood frames that create a simplified colorful labyrinth. But landscape and colorful borders always dominate in the English garden - one-sided and two-sided mixborders. Wide, unrestrained and so romantic, they are the hallmark of the English garden.

Garden in the English style

Classic and romantic in a square

When the English style is considered to be a landscape trend in landscape design, it is usually a bit cunning. After all, the English garden really brings the canons of park art closer to nature and its beauties, but it does it regally and so pretentiously that it is difficult to call such a garden a model of naturalness. In the English garden, in addition to those very strict lawns, trimmed fences and architectural elements, the whole space is indeed filled with free, landscape plantings. But they imitate not quite wild nature, as, for example, in a Dutch garden or in the style of a prairie, but a pastoral-fabulous picture, a kind of idyll of flowering nature in all its splendor.

Modest, almost wild plants and thickets, as if the gardener's hand had not touched them - not for an English garden. Here everything should be perfectly colorful. Even the contrast between the leaves of ferns and columbine in the shade or lavender and cuffs on a sunbed. This is a landscape luxury, which is not a sin to send on a postcard or poster of some exhibition. Therefore, keep in mind: the English garden should produce just such an impression - of aristocracy, which, having gone beyond the strict framework, has not lost its selectivity.

A similar approach - ostentatious, idealized selection - should be applied to the selection of plants. Classics from classics - that's what you need in an English garden. If shrubs, then roses or boxwoods, if trees, then catalpas, maples or ornamental apple trees. And from perennial partners, attention should be paid to untouchable, chosen favorites - lavender, catnip, veronica, delphiniums, geyhera, geraniums. Why, even among the bulbs in the English garden, only the classics are welcomed - tulips, daffodils, muscari. Exemplary, with an impeccable reputation, such plants have retained their status as fashionable for more than one century. And by no means boring. They should be recognizable at first sight, have a bright personality - texture, color, size, growth pattern. Nondescript and little-known plants are not suitable for this style: for the style of aristocrats, aristocratic plants are also needed.

Green planes

In an English garden, green always dominates. But not in ancient hedges and deaf yew walls, but above all - in lawns. Without them, it is impossible to imagine any project in this classic style. Carpets fill the space and balance lush, romantic, colorful and such textural flower beds and borders, serve as a "field", a canvas on which the pastoral of a colorful garden unfolds. Without this background, the charm and harmony of the design will be lost forever. If you want to create an English garden, then don't be afraid to use lawns. Create large strict lawns from them, decorate reservoirs with them, “tie” flower beds, form walking areas. In short, create a green backdrop, perfect for admiring magnificent perennials. And remember that not only playgrounds can be called a lawn, but also magnificent grass paths.

English garden

Individual approach to plants

Despite the fact that the English garden is distinguished by that special balance in which it is impossible to single out the main stars in the design, the basis of its success is precisely in a personal approach to each plant and respect for the need to study their features, character and preferences. There are no more or less important plants in any flower garden or rabatka in this style. Here everything exudes harmony and self-sufficiency, even tiny accents will get the attention they need. After all, any subtle art, including the art of decorating a garden, is built primarily on deep knowledge.

And if you are planning to recreate the charm of an English garden in your area, then first of all show respect for the plants used. And rely not on intuition, but on a scientific approach and training. Do not save time: study all the nuances of growing, all the features of specific species. Build schedules, compile catalogs, create entire “cases” for your flower beds and rabatkas. This is a fascinating process that will bring no less pleasure than contemplating your result. So you can always check the information, easily adjust the ensembles if such a need arises, you will always know what to do in unforeseen circumstances. Even cultures you know may surprise you, and their nature and features of agricultural technology are worth studying in detail.

Color balance

Harmony in an English garden reigns not only in structure or materials, but also in color. The ability to achieve balance and then "make" the garden not to lose it at any time of the year is truly unique. At the same time, the principles of constructing the English color scheme are so simple that they seem obvious and almost boring. But only in theory: in practice, achieving color harmony is much more difficult.

When you look at the panoramas of British gardens - famous cottage gardens, park gardens, and palace gardens - you can't help but compare with the paintings of the best classical landscape painters. And it is precisely the skillfully selected colors, which the artist seems to have mixed, that is the main secret of the English garden. It is not characterized by a boring, reserved, contrasting or pastel palette. Only gardens become English, where shades and overflows merge into a single picturesque picture. And where the contrast is based on the play of pure watercolor tones and colors with the unconditionally dominant calm green, for each too bright color there is a soothing counterbalance, for each light shade there is a deeper and more saturated tone. And you need to focus on the most advantageously combined shades of not one color, but neighboring colors in the color wheel.

So, pink is mixed with lilac, yellow with orange, blue with violet - different colors, but they are, nevertheless, especially harmonious and related in character. When choosing plants for an English garden, choose the most traditional and pure tones - if pink, then candy or rich, purple - perfect lilac, purple - cold and sparkling, blue - delicate and dreamy, and yellow - fruity and "juicy". In a word, choose classic and even old-fashioned colors. The purity of design in the English garden is embodied through the purity of colors.

An English-style garden with a pond

Not a relay race of flowering, but a relay race of images

In an English garden, one should strive to create not the effect of a continuous lantern show, but seasonality. You probably happened to admire the photographs of estates and cottages, which in spring seem to be surrounded by meadows of daffodils, and in summer they are adorned with royal roses that dominate the design. The main goal is to change the appearance of the garden from season to season, like a seasonal transformation of interiors. For spring, summer and autumn, a combination of the most beloved cultures is selected, which together create the perfect ensemble. Several plants become the main stars of the season, and with the change of seasons, another group blooms, not repeating either the character or the color palette of the first. Thus, in English gardens, they do not create the effect of constancy, but emphasize respect for nature and its metamorphoses. Yes, and thanks to this technique, it never gets boring: the garden changes images, remaining perfect in English, but always different.

A queen for a retinue of aristocrats

A plant without which an English garden would not work is the magnificent queen of garden shrubs, the rose. It is not by chance that she is called a garden aristocrat, it is the rose that perfectly demonstrates the beauty of plants typical of an English garden in both palace and cottage formats. Of course, in the English style it is worth using English roses - magnificent Austin with their old-fashioned romance, modern hardiness and strong aroma.

Both spray and climbing roses should be added to the look of an English garden. Miniature beauties will create luxurious borders, modern varietal wild roses - flowering hedges, ground cover roses will fill the space and create the effect of fabulous cascades on flower beds and in discounts. Lianas on arches and pergolas will add to the number of vertical accents and become a regal luxurious backdrop for benches and arbors. As for the classic shrub roses, floribunda, tea hybrids and other beauties, they will become the main soloists in flower beds and discounts. And with something, but with roses in the English style, you can not be afraid to overdo it: there are not many roses in an English garden. And it is roses - the real queens of the English garden - that will ideally reveal the beauty of plants selected according to the principle of aristocracy.

Flower garden with roses in an English style garden

Careful selection of height

Lush flower ensembles that fill the strict structure of the English garden give not only the impression of seasonality, pastorality, pastelness, but also unprecedented splendor. All flowering plantings in such a garden should look like flawless, filled with dozens of plants, but at the same time - not too complicated. Lush landscape thickets of flowering beauties are created thanks to the skillful combination of plants in height. So that no free soil is visible under the plants, they must complement each other and hide flaws. The main principle of creating both flower beds and rabatok in the English garden is a strict increase in height from the foreground to the back in one-sided objects and from the sides to the center in two-sided mixborders. Do not think that such a strict selection will be boring: the textures of plants and the difference in the density of crowns and sods fully compensate for the lack of interest in the vertical structure.

Even if you break the rules in an English garden, you should stick to the canons. The only way to deviate from the principle of low to high is to place high accents among short partners or soloists who stand out sharply from the background. Such cultures can be conditionally called “living sculptures”: they really, like a statue on a lawn, rise against a luxurious background and bring even more classical motifs to the compositions. A sheared ball of boxwood or a pyramid of yew, a standard rose seem to hover over the compositions and place architectural accents in them.

Not a garden, not a museum

Another element that no English garden can be without is the skillful selection of accessories. For garden ensembles they are selected with no less taste and care than for the English interior. Each piece of jewelry should be a true work of art and an important detail that emphasizes and sets the mood.

You can't get by in the English style without garden sculpture - classical and somewhat old-fashioned. A simple statue immersed in a rose garden, a small fountain or stone feeder marking the intersection point between flower beds, skillfully shaping a curve in a path, or drawing attention to a far corner of a garden—each example of a large and small garden sculpture should be placed so as to crown the ensemble and give him a new, aesthetic perfection. Do not neglect accessories in the form of properly placed lighting, a skillfully hidden bench, funny characters, animals or household items that have received a new life - for example, an old broken service or a teapot. They can become little touches that fill the garden with English charm. The main thing is not to overdo it and place them in the most visible place.

English style garden

Careful care

An English garden is a landscape surrounded by love. This is a style for those who enjoy even the most ordinary procedures, who have the time and desire to cut roses and mow lawns. And the more regular care and love is invested in such a garden, the more beautiful it becomes. Indeed, a project that combines such a number of trimmed objects and flowering plants will have to be looked after constantly. And the English garden cannot be attributed to the styles “for the lazy”. True, the right choice of plants and their species will help simplify life, but you should not forget about timely care anyway.

Neither beautiful lawns, nor flower beds in boxwood frames, nor inimitable "calling" discounts will look good on their own for years. Even one neglected plant, from which wilted inflorescences were not removed or dry shoots were forgotten to be removed, will spoil the whole picture. And weeds or untrimmed hedges are out of the question ... So care is the most important element of any English garden.

how to create an English garden with your own hands. Photo of an English garden.

The English Garden is designed to make everything seem natural, so that there is room for reflection. English style appreciates naturalness. The landscape of the English style counts on maintaining a balance between the ceremony of the English, and wildlife, adding elements of romanticism and mystery to the landscape.

Making an English garden is real, even if you haven't been to England. The right use of color, materials, decorative elements, fittings and plants will turn any garden into a well-groomed, stylish and impeccable place.

England's park and garden heritage

Our ancestors perceived nature as an unfriendly place. It was England that changed our attitude to our environment. They began to appreciate the world beyond the threshold of their home, realized the importance not only practically, but also aesthetically.

The English-style garden has added many details that seem banal to us.

Previously, the English estate included:

Pond - should have been in every English garden, however small and with winding outlines.

Hedge - such a fence was used to prevent animals from getting close to the house, and also not obstructing the entire view of the area.

Hilly Lawns - English landscape design is characterized by alternating plains and embankments. The hills reflect the natural landscape better than a flat field that looks dull.

Groves of trees - planted near the house. The trees looked great with the lawns on the hills.

Features of the English style

The English garden is old-fashioned, natural colors and materials, romanticism and attraction to antiquity. The English style landscape blurs the line between nature and modern progress. This is the success of the style, and its constant popularity.

First of all, the English garden is based on geometry that is not conspicuous. Seen from above, the paths meet at the same center, and the rectangular shapes and circles are combined to give the landscape a sense of order, completeness.

Elements that make the garden truly English:

  1. Hedges and flower walls.

Avoid wild, overly lush borders.

The English landscape is represented by geometric figures like a circle, an oval, a square and a rectangle.

  1. Several types of plants.

Monoconcept when choosing plants for a flower bed is the main feature of the English style. Don't plant everything, focus on 2-3 species, and use different shades of them. You should have a contrast between the variety of colors and the tranquility of the place around you.

  1. The same elements in the decoration of the surrounding space and the house.

Repeating materials such as brick or stone in columns, garden walls, fountains and pools will help bring garden and home together.

  1. Lush flowering of annuals.

They bloom for 4 months, something that a perennial plant or shrub cannot boast of. Use annuals in paths, along the edges, or in the center of the flower bed.


It is hard to imagine an English garden without garden paths. The material for the tracks is simple and can be found in any household: tiles, bricks, gravel. The paths can be parallel to each other or single, then the ridges and lawns planted between them will be harmonious.

The general rule is to narrow the path if it leads to a secluded and cozy place, and make it wider if the path comes to an open place where people gather.

Gravel path

The English style design is the gravel garden path, which is the easiest and easiest to build. A limestone or stone border will give the path a finished look and allow it to fit into an English garden.

The English garden is characterized by paths made of stone and paving slabs. These materials are durable and do not require special care. The shape must be rectangular or square.

Paving slabs are decorative and will be a great addition to an English garden. It will last for several decades.


An English garden cannot be imagined without water. In the gardens of England you can see a pond in the very depths of the garden, with benches around. The pond should not be deep, and a hedge or tall shrubs and perennials should be planted near it.

The classic English garden is a place for relaxation, so noisy waterfalls and fast streams of water are not suitable for it.

Perennial flowers, trees and shrubs in an English garden

In order to create the casualness of an English-style landscape, plants should be planted in layers. The tallest ones should be planted at the back, the lower ones should be in the middle, and the small ones on the edge. Follow the color scheme. Choose either only cold shades (purple, white, blue, cool pink), or warm ones (orange, yellow, red). So you design a single concept of the English garden.

English people love romantic, old-fashioned flowers. An English garden cannot be imagined without roses (very popular varieties of David Austin), daylily, delphinium, mallow, peonies, foxglove, snapdragon.

An English park cannot be imagined without trees. Yew, hornbeam, oriental thuja, boxwood, magnolia are suitable for hedges. They perfectly tolerate shaping and shearing, suitable for the formation of topiary figures. Will close the fence evergreen spruces, junipers, pines.

Create an English garden with your own hands

With the help of 6 simple steps you can create an English style in any summer cottage.

  1. Plant several types of plants, only in large numbers.

For example, New Dawn and William Baffin rose varieties, which, due to their volume, can decorate large areas of the garden.

  1. Create combinations of contrasting shades.

An English garden needs the right use of color. Lemon and yellow daylilies are in perfect harmony with purple and violet alliums.

  1. Set the boundary.

These can be hedges, paths, bird feeders. They fit perfectly into the space, creating the entire integrity of the composition. Fences and wrought iron bars will separate one piece of the garden from another without blocking the entire view.

  1. Make your garden furniture stand out.

In the landscape of the English style, instead of the usual colors - green, gray, brown, bold, bright shades that attract their attention prevail. A red table and an orange bench will not let you get bored, even when nothing blooms on the site.

And do not forget about the old days - the older things look, the better they are.

The metal swing will add a romantic touch to the garden. It is best to place them in a shady corner of the garden.

  1. Concentrate on the inside view.

Secure climbing plants around columns and posts. It will look very impressive, as if they will soar in the air. Stylized ruins and statues can be placed in an English garden.

  1. Sun and partial shade go well together.

The English style landscape features shade-loving hydrangeas planted near the north wall and succulents that love bright sunshine.

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