Last Updated Dec 30, 2010 · Written by Jaclyn Fitzgerald
A courtyard may only be a small space but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything with it. Careful design and planning can turn even the smallest of courtyards into a beautiful outdoor area that you want to spend time in. Here are our tips to help you make the right choices in your courtyard garden design.
In your hard scaping elements such as paving, retaining walls, and so on, opt for light colours wherever possible. This is because light colours create an illusion of space, making the area feel bigger than it really is. Whites, creams, beiges and light greys are all excellent options. Try and stay away from really dark colours as they will make the space feel smaller and more claustrophobic.
If you are using pavers or blocks in your courtyard, think about using ones that are larger in format. Small cobblestones and the like are great as are bricks, but using large format pavers and large chunky blocks can again make your space feel bigger and more inviting. Large format pavers and blocks are available in clay, concrete, and natural stone, so you don’t have to worry about your budget.
As it is a small space, it is a good idea to use few design elements. This is because you want to create a clean and simple look. Choose the things that you really love and feature those, rather than trying to cram a little bit of everything in. For example, you could place a water feature at the end of the courtyard along with some statues or pots on either side. This then becomes the focal point of the courtyard. Also, choose furniture that is proportionate to the space. You want to be able to easily manoeuvre around, not struggle to get past chairs and tables.
Plants are a vital element of your courtyard design but you want to choose your plants and how they are planted very carefully. For greenery that doesn’t take up much floor space, consider growing climbing plants up your fences or walls. Alternatively standard trees and shrubs can provide a beautiful look without taking up too much room.
It is a good idea to place your plants around the boundary of the courtyard, so that you have an open section in the middle. Look for plants that are structured in their growth pattern or that are not too large and vigorous. Veggie gardens are ideal and they will happily grow nestled against the wall or in pots.