Crossed brick and Pebble Pathway with herbaceous borders.

4 Path Designs for Cottage Gardens

Path design for cottage gardens is not only a way to provide access, but the path can provide a design feature in itself.

How do you plan a Garden Path?

Designing a garden path for your cottage garden

Traditional cottage gardens do not have lawns. As a result, this makes them an eco-friendly alternative for the Melbourne suburban home garden and a potential water saving garden design. Often the garden design will appear chaotic, but the parts of the garden will be divided up by symmetrical, geometric garden paths.

Home Garden Footpath Ideas

There are 4 main types of garden path layout. For instance, there are diamond shaped, oval outer path, central circular bed with crossed outer squares and the simpler square outer path with a single main path.

Crossed walkway with central circular garden

Crossed Garden Path with central circle - Reds Landscaping and Design
Crossed Garden Path with central circle.

The crossed paths provide a central focal point for your cottage garden. This is similar in some ways to the traditional monastery garden, which was centered on the point where the two cloisters would meet. This is widely regarded as the authentic traditional cottage garden style. The outer paths can be made a little narrower than the other paths for smaller cottage gardens.

Crushed Rock Pathway box hedge edging - Reds Landscaping and Design
Crush rock crossed pathway with box hedge edging. The box is often used for the cottage hedge.

Although this is a formal garden, a box hedge and a circular center garden are often features of a typical cottage garden with a crossed path system.


Concrete garden pot on a concrete pedestal - Reds Landscaping and Design
Concrete garden pot on a concrete pedestal. A garden focal point where the garden paths cross.



Stone Garden Path with a Plant as the focal point - Reds Landscaping and Design
Stone Garden Path with a Plant as the focal point in the path intersection.


Crossed brick and Pebble Pathway with herbaceous borders - Reds Landscaping and Design
Crossed brick and Pebble Pathway with herbaceous borders and a circular join.


Circular pond and crossed paths - Reds Landscaping and Design
Circular pond and crossed paths. French Mediterranean garden at Versailles.


Crossed Pathway with Oval shaped outer garden path

Cottage Garden Oval Path Design - Reds Landscaping and Design
Cottage Garden Oval Path Design.

A variation of this is to leave the crossed central pathway out.

COTTAGE GARDEN STONE PATHWAY - Reds Landscaping and Design
An example of a rustic stone pathway from the Arts and Crafts movement. An oval shaped path without the crossed central path.

Diamond Shaped Garden Path

Diamond shaped garden path - Reds Landscaping and Design
Diamond shaped garden path.


Square Outer Path

Square outer Path - Reds Landscaping and Design
Square outer Path - Reds Landscaping and Design

Alternative cottage pathway systems

So far, we have covered the 4 typical styles of pathway system. It is possible to have more complicated systems of pathways in your garden.


What is the cheapest walkway material?

The materials used on the paths in traditional cottage gardens will have a naturalistic look and tend to be soft surfaces. However, these can often be a little uncomfortable to walk on in bare feet. Amongst the hard surfaces, there are brick, granite setts, or natural flagstones. If you want to use concrete for the cottage garden pathways, then coloured, stencilled or exposed aggregate concrete will make the concrete appear more naturalistic. This would however, be a break from the tradition of cottage garden design.


Designing a Cottage Garden

In a traditional English  village you are likely to find a stream, hedge-rows, a village pond and plenty of large trees and an orchard. In addition, each house will have its own cultivation plot and sometimes an enclosed front yard garden.

Small garden path design

You can design a cottage garden for a space as small as 25 square metres. This might therefore be the case if you have a traditional Melbourne heritage house or townhouse. However, if you have more space in your front yard garden, you will be able to fit in several shrubs and trees and wide box hedge lined paths.

Cottage garden shape

Ideally, your cottage garden will be square, rectangular, or close to it. However, if your garden is not too small, you could have the traditional two garden paths crossing in the center with an oval or circular path around the edge. Traditionally, the cottage garden did not run all the way up to the house wall but had a zone where climbing roses or espalier fruit trees could be grown. This is also an area where plants in garden pots, a flower bed, or garden furniture could be placed.

Plantings facing the sun

In Melbourne your cottage herb and vegetable gardens should be facing north to make the most of often scarce winter sunlight. If that is not possible, try to find a position in your home garden that receives morning sun. For instance, many of the summer cottage vegetables and herbs that originate from warm climates will need as much sun and warmth as possible. Above all, plants such as fennel, cucumbers and tomatoes must have sufficient direct sunlight.

Gardens in the shade

If your home garden is mostly shady, you will need to be very selective with your plant selection. Use plants of varying heights in your cottage garden. The taller plants will, however, cast shade. The use of layering will therefore draw the eye up and down and make smaller gardens appear larger. The cottage garden should therefore exist in 3 dimensions. One cottage garden design feature that could be used for this is to plant some verbascum, hollyhocks, foxgloves, or lupins. The shade cast by these plants will not cover the same spot all day unless they are planted in a huge clump.

Related Landscaping Ideas from Red's Landscaping 

Landscape Designers Top 11 Tips

Landscaping Melbourne

Cottage Garden Plants

Landscaping Melbourne with Climbing Plants

Cottage garden ideas from the Cotswolds

Cottage Gardens in Melbourne Part 1 – History

Landscaping Melbourne

Landscape Design Melbourne

Landscape Design for Commercial Landscaping

5 top Landscape Design trends in Melbourne in 2022

© Copyright Red’s Landscaping and Design – Melbourne Commercial Landscaping Specialist

Red’s Landscaping YouTube Channel

Red’s Landscaping Pinterest Boards

More Information on Cottage Gardens

How to Create a Low Maintenance Cottage Garden

Blogs to Follow @RedsLandscaping

@Reds Landscaping and Design