Courtyard landscaping ideas

Here's an intro to courtyard landscaping and a few ideas to consider.

A courtyard, is an outdoor space that is enclosed mostly by a building, wall, fence or other structure. Sometimes tall plantings are also used to define the borders of a courtyard. It can be designed for complete seclusion, a semi-private place intended to block or reduce outside noise, or a common-area ideal for entertaining. They often have a patio and/or walkways. Small courtyards will block most wind, which make them especially appealing. The focal point of a courtyard is often a pools, hot tub, dining area, barbecue or fire pit, outdoor kitchen, a play area for your pet, or even a full basketball court.

We are blogging about courtyard landscaping ideas because we know that landscaping a courtyard has its own special challenges. The thought process is not the same as landscaping an open space. The distance from one end to the other are generally small, so one needs to think about perspective, color, and the selection of plants.

The courtyard perspective

Perspective is a design element that gets treated differently from an open yard. If too many features or structures are added, the space can feel confined and difficult to move from one area to another. If not enough plantings or sitting areas are included, the courtyard can feel unwelcoming and boring. There is so much creativity to unleash in a courtyard landscape design. This is an area where you can play with artistic waterfall ideas, unique patio designs, install outdoor music, or make use of reusable elements.

The use of color

Have you always wanted to use outdoor lighting to create that special affect? Now is the time. There are so many courtyard landscaping ideas that incorporate outdoor lighting to introduce color and interesting shadows after dark.

In a courtyard, color can overwhelm a design or get lost in the shadows. One suggestion is to keep the color palate simple. Make use of colored LED lighting and angle it reflect off of walls or shine on greenery. Remember color can be found in hardscape materials, such as red brick, as well as flora. Consider all various color elements and how they blend together.

The selection of plants

The presence of shadows is a nuance that must be thought about as the limited size of a courtyard means less direct sunlight. Unless the courtyard is unusually large, you will need to select plants that thrive in the shade.

Sometimes a courtyard will receive less water because the surrounding structures block the rain. Consider this and choose plants that require less watering. Potted plants are often selected for courtyard landscaping. A sprinkler system in a courtyard? Why not! This is also a prime location for those delicate plants that need protection from the wind.

More courtyard landscaping ideas:

  1. Consider designing your courtyard using all right angles or all curves. This is an interesting design effect that plays well will the use of accent lighting.

  2. This is the perfect opportunity to create a “green wall”. Vertical gardens or vines as a covering for the walls may solve the problem of a plain surface looking drab or unattractive. You will want to make sure, however, that a vine will not damage the wall.

  3. Seating areas that are integrated into walls will make use of empty space.

  4. Sound bounces when all the walls are hard; therefore, soften the atmosphere with plenty of flowers and trees. If the courtyard includes mostly hard surfaces, planter boxes and large potted plants will create a more pleasant appearance.

  5. For a larger courtyard, you might want to plant decorative grass mounds with iris surrounding most sides. This gives a striking look in summer/fall with crocus planted on the mounds for a spectacular spring color.

  6. How about an edible courtyard? Consider planting some herbs and smaller vegetables. These often grow very well in a courtyard. Shielded from heavy winds, you can grow tomatoes with little risk of them being blown over. Herbs and plants such as lavender and thyme will have a concentrated scent in the more enclosed area.

  7. A courtyard is often the perfect place for a water feature. Create white noise that echoes and soothes. If you want a Koi pond, you must do it in an enclosed area where wild-life (especially raccoon) can't get to the fish.

A courtyard of any size has so many uses and the design possibilities are endless. If you need help with obtaining an estimate and more courtyard landscaping ideas, contact us at Environmental Construction Inc.

Category: Landscaping Ideas

Environmental Construction, Inc.

It's not simply about designing and building beautiful garden spaces, it's about providing a landscape oasis where you can relax from the daily grind and recharge. Let us create an outdoor space that will enhance your home and quality of life.

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