A Woodland garden is unique in the fact that they follow the same principle of a small forest – to simply grow naturally and not in a carefully planted and planned manner, as is the case with many private gardens.
This is the beauty of a woodland garden in that it resembles the stunning wildness of a natural forest in your own backyard. If this isn’t a little corner of heaven, what else could it be? Just imagine how wonderful it must be to wake up on a summer’s morning and be captivated by the naturally lush woodland garden with high trees and various wildflowers.
Not to mention woodland gardens are incredibly low-maintenance, simply because this type of garden needs to be left alone to grow and thrive – similar to what happens in nature. Indeed, it is crucial you tend it and take care of it on a regular basis. But compared to most formal garden styles, which are carefully designed, manicured, and taken care of, woodland gardens are not as needy.
If you feel somewhat intimidated by the ampleness of a woodland garden, it is perfectly understandable, especially if you are an amateur gardener. But the good news is that it can look more challenging to plant than it actually is. There are certain things you need to consider when growing a woodland garden and specific aspects you need to learn. But creating a woodland garden at home is not at all an impossible task. Once you realize this and start growing it, you will soon begin to see the benefits of having this type of garden, which perfectly resembles the peace and tranquillity of a natural forest.
Are you interested to hear more about woodland gardens? Keep reading to discover what it is, how to grow one, and the type of plants that can thrive in a woodland garden.
What Is a Woodland Garden?
- 1 What Is a Woodland Garden?
- 2 How Can You Create a Woodland Garden?
- 3 6 Recommended Woodland Garden Plants
- 4 Other Aspects to Consider When Creating a Woodland Garden
- 5 In Conclusion
Woodland gardens are a type of landscaping that is inspired by natural and wildly grown woods, with large shrubs and trees that can grow at exponential heights and understory plants that can thrive beneath, given they receive a limited amount of sun and are exposed to trees’ shade.
It almost goes without saying that woodland gardens, alongside meadow gardens and bog gardens, are a type of gardening style that is closest to nature, and because of this, this type of design can successfully attract wildlife as well as nurture it. So, part of having a woodland garden is actively celebrating life in all its form and glory. This means creating habitats for particular animals or birds, such as installing feeders on tree branches.
So, a woodland garden is a natural wood-like garden that resembles the wildness but is grown in your yard. Deciduous trees, understory plants, and wildflowers ground covers are all part of a beautifully abundant and stunning woodland garden.
How Can You Create a Woodland Garden?
First and foremost, you need to locate the ideal place where you can grow a woodland plant of large shrubs and shade-loving flowering plants. Because a woodland garden can have a significantly big size, it is crucial that the place where you decide to grow is accommodating enough for this type of garden.
Step 1 – Build the Carpet
You should start thinking from the ground up when it comes to growing a woodland garden. This means building the carpet first with shade-loving and shade-tolerant perennials, biennials, and wildflowers.
The typical characteristic of a woodland garden is that its look and growth are similar to how a natural forest would be. This means that in order to properly grow a woodland garden in your yard, you need to let the fallen leaves establish the mulch required. So, if in other gardening styles you would do maintenance work and remove the surpass of leaves from the ground, woodland gardens thrive on it.
What’s more, it is of the utmost importance to add compost to the soil you intend to use for planting something. Leaf mould is also an effective choice.
Step 2 – Build the Understory
Now, when growing a woodland garden, you have to think about the understory and the type of plants to include here. Usually, you will need medium-sized bushes and flowers that thrive in partial or even total shade in some areas. When it comes to woodland that is cultivated – such as a personal garden – there are certain plants you can take into consideration. For example, evergreen, and flowering plants like camellias or hydrangeas, can thrive in the conditions a woodland garden creates. Because this type of garden can only offer dappled sunshine or shade, it is vital to plant the understory to fit these conditions.
Step 3 – Create Pathways
Depending on the size of your woodland garden, you may be able to create a pathway or a few smaller ones. This allows you to stroll through your woodland garden, even if it isn’t necessarily a large one. Plus, given the nature of this gardening style which adopts a cultivated wildness, the paths you build don’t have to be perfectly divided with stones, cement, or bricks.
Instead, you should go for bark and woody shedding, which can create that natural aesthetic while also being the ideal option for a woodland garden where a large number of leaves fall.
A noteworthy aspect for when you want to include pathways in your grown woodland garden is to plant any flowering shrubs on each side of the path. This way, when you wander through your woodland garden, you can admire the blooming flowers without having to go deep into the yard where the soil may be wet, and you risk getting your feet muddy.
A woodland garden is an excellent place where you encourage wildlife to make nests. Birds and beneficial insects like bees and butterflies will be attracted to this type of garden, given that they can find food and shelter. Plus, there are a lot of nesting opportunities – something you should encourage in order to let your woodland garden be used to its fullest potential. Whether you choose to include nesting boxes, bird feeders, stacking logs, or other forms of food or nesting sources, it depends on your garden’s size as well as your personal preferences. One thing is for sure – if you decide to grow a woodland garden, it is highly recommended you follow all these steps. Otherwise, you risk seeing it thrive.
6 Recommended Woodland Garden Plants
One of the many advantages of growing a woodland garden, apart from the fact there is little maintenance required, is the fact that you have a large variety of plants to choose from. Whether you want shrubs, trees, perennials, or ground cover plants, the choices are plenty. Plus, you don’t even have to limit yourself. Depending on the size of your woodland garden, you can include as many of the plants mentioned above as you want. The more abundant this garden is, the better.
This being said, the following list may help you get a better idea of the many shrubs, flowering plants, and ground cover plants you could use, and pick the ones that are suitable for you.
The azalea shrub is definitely a head-turner when spring comes and its flowers bloom. Azalea plants are incredibly easy to care for and maintain, making them the ideal shrub to include in your woodland garden. Not to mention they come in such a large variety of colours with a beautiful scent that it would be challenging for you to choose which one to plant.
There are over 10,000 registered varieties of Azaleas to choose from, each having surprising features, such as a unique petal shape, spectacular blooms, and mesmerizing colours. In addition to that, Azaleas are very easy to grow by novice and experienced gardeners alike. All they need to grow healthy and happy is acidic soil, that’s rich in organic matter and well-draining and partial shade. Curious to learn more about these amazing flowers?
Who wouldn’t want to plant a tree in their backyard that is so versatile and easy-going? The Japanese Maple tree will surprise you with its unique foliage that comes in all sorts of shapes and colours. Because it is a tree that can grow to large sizes, you may think that its maintenance is complex. It is quite the opposite, as the Japanese Maple is relatively easy to take care of it.
The essential thing to know is that the Japanese Maple tree needs water, especially in the absence of rain. Japanese maple trees are beloved by gardeners thanks to their spectacular appearance and their adaptability to moderate temperatures. A Japanese maple tree will thrive in any region where the weather isn’t too hot or too cold and it is a good fit for many types of gardens from woodland gardens to Japanese gardens.
Birch trees make perfect additions to woodland gardens. They have uniquely-coloured bark that ranges in colour from snow white to chocolate brown. Being deciduous trees, the bark will play an important role in your woodland garden during the cold seasons, when the leaves fall off and the other plants enter their dormancy stage. But the attractive bark is just one of the many benefits of growing birch trees.
Birch trees thrive in cooler areas and they don’t do well in hot, dry climates. These hardy trees are great choices for urban areas and town gardens and can be planted strategically to provide shade. Birch is a quick-growing tree and it will grow up to 12 meters (40 feet) high. It is not particularly suitable for small gardens, so make sure you assess your available space before you decide to plant it in your garden.
Birch trees can thrive in many different types of soil from acidic to alkaline, as long as it is moist and well-drained. They are low-maintenance and won’t need a lot of attention, but they do need quite a lot of light, so you should avoid planting them under other trees. Garden varieties of birch have shallow roots that might interfere with your other shrubs and flowers, so it’s best to plant them alongside bulb plants that don’t grow deep in the soil.
When it comes to woodland gardens trees that have light canopies, such as silver birches are great options. These trees can grow quite tall without overwhelming your other plants. You can also plant Hazel trees, Rowans, and Crab apple trees. If you want to enjoy your woodland garden sooner rather than late, you can opt for semi-mature trees.
The anemone is a spring-flowering or fall-blooming ornamental, commonly referred to as the ‘windflower’. Both of these varieties are very common, and they can be found in many home gardens of different gardening types. Spring-blooming anemones have spectacular blooms, but their foliage isn’t showy, so they don’t need pruning. Fall-blooming anemones, on the other hand, will require some pruning.
These flowers grow natively all over the world, except for Antarctica and Australia and they can thrive in a wide range of environments. Anemones thrive in well-lit areas, but they don’t mind partial shade. Japanese anemones are more tolerant to shade, and they will also make great additions to gardens that don’t get a lot of sunlight. When it comes to the woodland style, this is a perennial herb that would look beautiful by a path. Curious to learn more about these low-maintenance flowering plants?
Next to your anemones, you can plant tuberous begonias. Their bright-coloured flowers will complement the others stunningly, and it will be a delight to take a stroll through your woodland garden in spring and summer. These flowering plants need well-drained and organic soil to thrive. Plus, they grow best in lightly shaded places, so that could work well in your woodland garden.
Lily of the Valley
‘Lily of the valley flowers’ have small bell-shaped blooms that have a striking beauty and they are even more lovely when planted in woodland gardens. Not to mention that this plant’s flowers are incredibly fragrant, especially during spring and the beginning of the summer.
Not only will your woodland garden look like it is taken straight from a fairy tale, but it will also smell delightful. The best way to plant these flowers is in masses as they will quickly form delicate clumps and when they emerge among leaves they look mesmerizing. Their flowering season starts in May and lasts for about 3 weeks. They thrive if they get plenty of shade, so you can enjoy them under trees and in other secluded areas of your garden. Want to add these flowers to your woodland garden?
Magnolias are multi-stemmed shrubs or single-stemmed trees that are beloved by gardeners thanks to their glossy leaves, stunning blooms, and beautiful scent. There are over 100 different species of magnolia trees suitable for different environments and growing conditions. The most commonly cultivated types of magnolias in the UK are Magnolia stellata, Magnolia Susan and Saucer Magnolia.
In general, Magnolia trees thrive in full sun and partial shade. They can adapt to different types of soil as long as it is well-draining and they do appreciate some fertilizing in spring. Magnolias are perfect for woodland gardens because they are low maintenance and thrive in most climates, although they prefer regions where temperatures don’t drop below 0 in winter. However, deciduous magnolias are hardy and can withstand freezing temperatures.
A woodland garden wouldn’t be complete without ferns. These majestic and elegant plants can be found thriving in all forests and woodland areas. They love the damps and semi-shaded conditions found in these areas and they don’t mind living under the shade of trees and other taller plants.
You can find many different types of ferns and it is best to choose those that are native to your area and that will survive the local climate. You can find frost-tolerant ferns, which are also known as hardy ferns, such as Polystichum proliferum (Mother Shield Fern), Asplenium trichomanes (Maidenhair Spleenwort), Adiantum pedatum (Pacific Maidenhair Fern), Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese Painted Fern), and Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern).
Wild natural woods have moss and our list wouldn’t be complete without it. The moss plant is an ideal one for woodland gardens, given that this perfectly recreates the characteristic wildness. It is said that moss has the power to imbue a place with tranquillity, and this plant has been widely considered as having a soothing quality attached to it.
Your woodland garden will be effectively brought to life with moss, a plant that thrives in damp and shady areas, given it has no roots, and so it must find other alternatives to absorb water. And, if you start growing moss, you can also try your hand at making beautiful kokedama moss balls.
The plants mentioned above are merely a few examples of shrubs, trees, perennials, or ground cover plants that could thrive in a woodland garden. The list goes on, and there are so many plants that you can choose from.
Creating a low-maintenance, yet the beautiful garden is any gardener’s dream. And being able to select the type of plants you want to plant and grow in your garden is the fun part. Luckily, a woodland garden is a very offering gardening style, and you can create it based on your personal preferences. Therefore, you can let those creative juices flow.
Other Aspects to Consider When Creating a Woodland Garden
Indeed, no one can deny that woodland gardens have a unique beauty given by the wildness that characterizes them. There is something extraordinary to a garden that isn’t too cultivated or manicured; instead, it is left to grow on its own. However, another essential aspect you should consider if you want to create a woodland garden is that it can take a lot of time. For this reason, it is vital you have a lot of patience, as it will be a while – maybe even a few seasons – until you can see your home woodland garden fully matured. This being said, there is also no denying that the wait is worthwhile.
Because the entire process can be much lengthier than growing other types of gardens, it is crucial you take your time selecting the desired plants and placing them. The most important thing is to identify the dappled areas so that you know where you can grow your understory plants.
When it comes to designing your woodland garden, you need to take into consideration any outdoor furniture you may want to include. Depending on the size of the garden, this can be either quite limited, or you can create a spacious area to relax. So, whether it is a single bench located at the end of a pathway, or you have enough room to fit a table and a few seats – where you can even take your breakfast, for example – it is crucial to consider this during the designing stage. This way, you can plan the woodland garden, with its shrubs, trees, and wildflower plants, around this seating area.
Woodland gardens are definitely worth all the time you put into growing them. Your backyard garden will have a strong personality with its wild yet maintained aesthetic. It can be challenging to create an abundant woodland garden, mainly because, compared to other gardening styles, you may need to wait several seasons until it reaches its final mature state. But this being said, woodland gardens are extremely low maintenance and can be very rewarding to see how it takes more shape every year.
Let us know how your experience has been with growing a home woodland garden!