The cottage garden style is created partly by design and the use of suitable paving materials and also by the choice of plants. Relatively little hard landscaping is necessary for a cottage garden as brick paths and stepping-stones through the beds may be enough. It is the position of old-fashioned plants and vegetables that creates the casual but colourful look associated with this type of garden.
The wildlife garden offers a refuge for all kinds of creatures if you design and plant with wildlife in mind. This type of garden looks well kept and pretty yet it provides long vegetation where animals and insects can hide and find food. There is water to attract aquatic life, flowers and shrubs to bring the butterflies and seeds for the birds. An orchard can also be a magnet for wildlife of many kinds.
A woodland garden is practical if you have a long, narrow back garden. Trees and shrubs can be used very effectively. Quick growing deciduous trees with a light canopy such as Birch are suitable for these gardens. Evergreens are avoided otherwise you lose the benefit of the spring flowers and ferns that are so much a feature of the traditional woodland garden. These gardens have rhododendrons and azaleas to provide colour beneath the tree canopy and groundcover plants are used for filler. Naturalized bulbs such as wood Anemones, Bluebells and Primroses are ideal for this type of garden. The added bonus is the effect to block out unattractive views or houses and it is low maintenance too.
Rock or water features alone seldom work as a design. They are usually most effective when planned as part of a larger scheme. Combining rocks and water can be used as the central theme of a design that attempts to create a natural style in an informal garden.
Meandering meadows can be created by broadening garden borders with gentle sweeps to merge with an unobstructed boundary if there is an attractive view beyond. If the distant view is unappealing, take the border round so that the lawn curves to extend beyond the point of view. Use shrubs and lower growing border plants to create the kind of border you might find at the edge of a strip of woodland.
If plants are more important than the elements of design use plenty of sweeping beds and borders and concentrate heavily on shrubs and herbaceous plants to give the garden shape. Allow plants to tumble over edges and let them grow informally among paving. If you want to create a strong sense of design within such a plant oriented small garden, use focal points such as ornaments, garden seats or birdbaths.