How to Design an English Rose Garden

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How to Design an English Rose Garden

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“English rose gardens” bring to mind lush spaces filled with fragrance and color. Roses are one of the most versatile of garden plants, offering an economical way to provide years of beauty and increase the value of your property.

Creating an English-style rose garden is an opportunity to express your personality and maximize the use of your garden spaces. Plant ramblers and high Victorian roses to evoke old English charm in a casual garden setting. Use floribundas and hybrid teas in precise geometric plans to imitate formal English rose gardens.


Evaluate your space and decide what types of roses you can use. Do you have space for climbing roses, ramblers, bush plants or rose trees? Or do you want to select smaller species or ground cover roses?


Determine what kinds of companion plants you'll include in your garden and ensure you have adequate space for them. Select companions for foliage and flower color, fragrance and the benefits that each plant will bring to your roses.


Build permanent garden structures such as stone or brick walls, garden beds and water fountains. Formal English rose garden designs include brick or graveled pathways that create sharp geometric planting areas. Informal designs incorporate curved pathways and planting borders, complemented by graceful trellises.


Choose roses that are suited to your climate to limit the amount of maintenance required. Use the Hardiness Zone Map from the USDA (see Resources) to identify how cold your region gets.


Use the Heat Zone Map from the American Horticultural Society (see Resources) to identify the number of days with temperatures greater than 86 degrees F your region experiences annually. This is the temperature above which plants experience heat distress.


Check with your local extension agent to identify roses that will thrive in your climate.


Determine how much sunlight your garden receives on average, and choose roses that are suited to those light conditions.


Test your soil and amend as necessary to ensure a healthy growing environment for your roses and companion plants.


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