How to Make the Most of Your Courtyard Garden
Simple ideas to make every centimetre of your courtyard work beautifully, from surfaces to seating
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If you want to plant trees in a small area, try some umbrella-style specimens. The branches will eventually knit together to form a canopy, creating a secluded feeling for outdoor dining.
Here, four plum trees have been planted in a square. The branches create a roof above the table, which makes the dining area feel shaded and intimate.
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A sunken courtyard can sometimes be a little dark, so to brighten yours, paint surfaces in a pale colour and stick to a palette of green and white for the planting. Choose pale paving, too, which will act as a blank canvas against which to showcase furniture and plants.
Neat furniture can also help to keep the space feeling light. Here, the built-in floating bench allows you to view the space underneath, helping to make the area feel as roomy as possible.
Free up the central area of your small courtyard to give it an airy feel by constructing seating around the perimeter. Built-in benches can also double up as valuable storage to maximise space.
Consider tiered planters behind the seating, as here, as they will allow you to grow a variety of plants, including climbers, for added height and a lush feel.
The sheltered nature of a courtyard garden could offer the possibility of extending the time you spend outside.
Take advantage of this by incorporating a cosy seating area, and add even more warmth with a firepit.
Here, the seating area is bordered by evergreen planting, which will help to make the space feel secluded all year round.
Maximise space in a courtyard by installing beams overhead along which plants can grow.
In this small central courtyard, the open space above resembles a large skylight. Wooden crossbeams have been added for climbing plants to twist around and, thanks to the addition of hanging lanterns, the space resembles an indoor garden room.
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If you want to be surrounded by greenery in a tiny space, grow plants up the walls or fences. You could do this by hanging up pots, growing climbers up a trellis, or creating a living wall.
In this compact courtyard, the plants on the wall have freed up the floor area for dining and lounging, while still offering the benefits of a garden.
Even in a compact area, it’s often still possible to incorporate areas where small children can play. In this garden, the designers have built a sandpit into the cedar decking, which can be covered over when not in use.
Use a soft material underfoot, like the decking here, and combine it with cobbles and sculptural planting to bring energy and life to the space.
Having large-leaved plants in a small area may seem counterintuitive, as you might assume bigger foliage would make an area feel smaller. However, the opposite can be true. Bold plants can add valuable height and form, while bringing a sense of seclusion to your courtyard.
Combine different jungle-style plants and team them with dark walls to add drama to the space.
There’s no need to feel limited to straight lines when it comes to courtyard designs. The curved paving and walls in this space surround a table and chairs. This focal point invites people to use the garden as another room.
Use rounded planting, such as buxus and hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, to link the circular elements.
Do you have a courtyard garden? How have you designed your space? Share your ideas and photos in the Comments section.