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How to Plant a Victorian Garden

Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada helps a homeowner add some curb appeal using Victorian plants to match the design of his house


  1. Use a hose or another bendable material to outline the shape of the garden. Jenn recommends playing off features of the house and allowing the garden to go far away from the house for added depth. Once the garden has the right shape, use some spray paint to mark the lines.
  2. Dig out the grass and weeds in the area using the grub hoe. For the edges, cut down using the edging shovel. This should allow for the garden to have a sharp, clean line to define the edge.
  3. Stage the desired plants throughout the garden. For a Victorian garden, Jenn likes to incorporate symmetry. Choose plants like boxwoods, hydrangeas, lilacs, viburnums, rose of sharons, and azaleas to complement the house style.
  4. Plant everything. Dig the holes twice as wide and about as deep as the root ball with the digging shovel. Add some compost in the holes before dropping in the plants for added nutrients. Tease the roots slightly before putting each plant in place. Backfill each hole and add a little starter fertilizer around each plant.
  5. Add a thin layer of mulch over all the plants to keep out weeds and help retain moisture. Use a rake to help spread the mulch throughout the garden.
  6. Give the plants a good watering.


Jenn installed a variety of plants that she felt were appropriate for a 1900s Victorian. These included green mountain boxwoods, green velvet boxwoods, limelight hydrangeas, viburnums, rose of sharons, and azaleas. These can all be found at nurseries.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Nawada Landscape Design and Forever Green Landscaping.