Formal or informal, elegant or rustic, rose gardens can easily be adapted to your taste and budget.
While roses attract plenty of attention, even when planted among other flowers, taking a little time to plan their arrangement can bring out the very best in them. Think rose arches, rose pillars, rose-covered walls, and rosebush trees.
Read on to explore our rose garden ideas.
1. Train a rambling rose over a trellis
If you have a green retreat in your garden, why not create a stunning entryway to it? Train a rambling or climbing rose to grow over a metal or wooden trellis. For stunning results, pick a tall, arching trellis and a rose plant that yields large flowers like Rosa ‘A Shropshire Lad’ or Rosa ‘Constance Spry’
More on this: Which Trellis Is Good For Climbing Roses?
Good to know: You don’t usually need to deadhead rambling roses since they don’t flower in flushes. They bloom once a year and their flowers last for a few weeks.
2. Create a rose arch to add interest to a path
Another way to use rose arches in your garden is to add interest to a path. For this, you can use a tall rose metal arch or trellis. You can make your own or buy one ready-made. For a spectacular effect, try lining a path with several rose arches.
To create a rose arch, secure the support in place and plant a climbing rose variety at either end. Use strong garden twine to tie them to the structure as they grow. Prune as needed to ensure even growth.
Tip: Tie the stems loosely since they will grow thicker with time. Ideally, the two roses should meet at the centre of the top of the arch.
3. Cover your gazebo with roses
Whether you have a simple or fancy gazebo, you could use it as a support structure for climbing or rambling roses. Depending on the size of your gazebo, you may need four or more mature rose plants.
Plant one rose at each corner on the outside. For a large gazebo, add more to each side if needed. Train the roses up the pillars or walls of the gazebo first. You can then train them over the roof of the structure, provided of course your gazebo roof is not covered with canvas.
Good to know: An English climbing rose takes two to three years to reach full height, and sometimes more. So, you’ll need to have a bit of patience.
4. Cover an old wall or shed with rambling roses
If you’ve got a sad-looking wall in your garden or are feeling tired of the way the shed looks, why not cover it with a swathe of rambling roses? Their colours and textures can transform an old structure and grace any type of wall.
To train roses up a wall from the ground, you can use training wire or trellis. The best roses to cover a garden wall are tall, repeat flowerers that will bloom regularly throughout the growing season. Try ‘Pippin’ or the beautiful, red ‘Prince’s Trust’.
Tip: To encourage side shoots to develop and cover the wall evenly, fan the stems out to the left and right and tie them loosely to the support.
5. Mix roses with companion flowers
You may wonder why you’d plant roses with other plants when roses so easily steal the show on their own? Planting companion plants can repel pests, keeping your roses healthy and hide bare stems too. They also help to keep the earth cool and moist on the warmest days of the year, saving you water.
Inspired companion flowers for roses include perennials like:
Annuals that go well with roses include:
Tip: Inspect your rose beds regularly so that companion plants don’t climb on the rose stems, crowd their leaves, or take up the immediate space around them. Also make sure that the roses remain at least 12 inches above their companion flowers even after you prune them in winter.
6. Smother your window with roses
If you have a window that’s looking out to your rose garden, grow roses around it using a trellis or string wire for a country cottage feel. Pick a fragrant rose variety so you can enjoy the magic of the blooms through the open window. Some of the most fragrant blooms include ‘Getrude Jekyll’ and ‘New Dawn’.
Bear in mind that the fragrant oils roses contain evaporate in the heat. It’s on sunny, pleasantly warm days that roses are at their most fragrant.
Good to know: While roses thrive in direct sunlight, they can still grow against a north-facing wall. Just make sure to pick a shade-tolerant variety such as ‘Crown Princess Margareta’.
7. Cover a garden gate in roses
Roses can help you stylishly mark the transition from the front garden to the back garden. All you need are some climbing or rambling roses and a bit of patience to train them to grow up the posts of the gate. Going a step further, you can install an arch over the gate for the roses to climb.
Tip: Arches over garden gates work best with gates built into metal, brick, or stone fences. You can create one over a wooden gate but the roses may damage the wood over time, and you’ll have to repair it more often.
You might also like: Stylish and Practical Garden Fence Ideas
8. Add interest to your garden with a rose pillar
A rose pillar, column, or obelisk is an upright decorative feature commonly made from metal or stone. You can add it to a walkway, use it to frame an entranceway, or use it to create structure in an otherwise flat area.
A rose climbing up a pillar will generally need around 12 canes so you’ll have enough to wrap around each side of the support. You can wrap half clockwise and the other half anticlockwise.
Tip: When pruning a rose pillar, don’t remove the new green canes without side shoots that are growing from the base. They will often provide the best flowers in spring.
9. Add privacy to your garden with a rose screen
If you’re thinking about adding a privacy screen to your garden, climbing roses can make it more attractive. More than filling in the gaps in the privacy screen, they’ll add colour, texture and perhaps even fragrance. The result will be a quiet, rosy nook you’ll love returning to.
The easiest way to create a rose privacy screen is to install a metal or wooden screen and train climbing roses to grow up it. You can weave the rose shoots around it and twine them in place if necessary.
Tip: Choose a wooden privacy screen made from teak or another long-lasting wood. It costs more, but you won’t have to worry about repairing it anytime soon.
10. Create a pathway of roses
Orange, red, white, pink, yellow or mixed, the colour doesn’t matter—planting roses alongside a garden pathway can instantly transform your green space. You can opt for rose shrubs, rose bushes or dwarf rose varieties.
For a minimalist rose garden, simply plant the roses in one continuous bed, without adding borders around them. If roses will be the only flowers gracing your pathway, you can plant a normal or tall variety so they will fill up the space.
Tip: Plant roses at least 2 feet apart or according to the instructions that come with the rose variety you choose.
11. Grace a pond with roses
Maybe you already have a pond or are planning to create one this year. Either way, planting roses around it can turn it into a striking garden feature.
You’ll have to clean up the fallen petals regularly, that’s true. But the beauty of the roses reflected on the clear water of the pond makes a bit of trouble worth it, right?
Tip: Roses like soil that drains well, so it’s often best to separate them from the pond with a border.
12. Turn a rose shrub into a tree
A rose shrub tree can look spectacular in your garden. You can plant it directly in the soil or pot it in a large container. It can become the centrepiece in a garden arrangement or stand proud on its own.
To turn a rose shrub into a tree, buy a mature plant with a thick and sturdy central stem and trim the branching stems. Your rose bush will look bare but don’t worry, it will recover. You also need to cut the tip of the central stem above the second to last leaves to encourage it to grow in width rather than height.
Lastly, trim the shoots that grow on the trunk until about 2 feet up. After planting, you may need to provide support for the trunk such as a bamboo cane.
Tip: After the initial cuts and trims, it’s important to keep pruning your rose shrub tree over time as it grows so that it reaches and maintains its desired shape.
13. Create a palette of roses
Can’t decide which coloured roses you’ll plant next? Try planting a selection of different coloured rose varieties into compact flower beds. Clump same-colour plants together and group the others around.
This way, you can create a palette of different rose colours in your garden that can fill up garden space as few other plants can. Depending on how much space you want to fill, you can plant dwarf or tall varieties and trim them accordingly.
Tip: Plant three roses of the same variety in one triangular clump to make them look like one large shrub. Plant them closer together than you would normally, overlapping them by about half of their mature width. For example, plant roses that will reach a mature width of 2 feet 1 foot apart.
14. Plant a rose hedge
Rose hedges can complement a low picket fence, create a border around a specific area of the garden, or simply fill up space.
To create a rose hedge, plant roses of the same variety at a planting distance that’s about half of their mature width, e.g., 1.5 feet for a 3-foot-wide shrub. Depending on the variety you choose and the space you need to cover, you may need 5 or more plants to create a rose hedge.
Tip: Have patience with your rose hedge. In the first 1-3 years it’s normal to see gaps and bare patches of earth between the plants.
15. Introduce some roses to your patio or terrace
Roses can brighten up your patio or terrace, so why not create a rose garden in and around it? If your patio or terrace adjoins your outdoor rose garden, the result can be wonderful since potted roses will help you create a transition between the two spaces.
Roses can grow well in pots provided you don’t cram more than one plant in a pot. Choose large pots to give their roots space to stretch. For smaller varieties, you can use old metal buckets—just give them a coat of paint first.
Tip: Place potted roses in a sunny spot so that they get at least 4 hours of sun every day. For potted roses to thrive, you need to repot them every few years and protect them from freezing temperatures by moving them indoors or wrapping burlap or another material around the pots.
How to choose the right rose variety
When shopping for roses, it helps to think about how you want to use them. Climbing and rambling rose varieties are best for covering walls, pillars, arches, and other structures. Rose bushes can be used to create rose hedges or trained into rose trees. Dwarf varieties can grow in pots on your patio or terrace.
Some roses bloom repeatedly, others bloom only once during their flowering season. Also, some varieties are hardier than others. Factor these features in and look for varieties that do well in your region. As for the colour, well, that’s entirely up to you!
When is the best time to plant roses outdoors?
Planting roses in October or November gives them a better chance to become established. But you can also plant them in spring, after the last frost and up until the end of March.
Do roses flower more than once?
If you want your roses to keep on flowering, plant a repeat-flowering variety. It will put forth blooms from late spring all the way until the frosty weather comes around.
Should you deadhead roses?
Deadheading repeat-flowering roses is important to keep them looking their best and protect them from disease. Some varieties will bloom more if you deadhead them. You should stop deadheading roses in autumn, about two months before the first frost.