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In a small courtyard style garden, bringing together the functional properties without cluttering the limited space can be a challenge. Here are a few design considerations that may help maintain the important sense of spaciousness, ambiance and calm that can make your small garden a relaxing haven from the business of everyday life.
Using the vertical planes for planting is a great move in a limited, walled space. It maintains the ‘space’ while providing you with the essential ‘green effect’ – for relaxation and rejuvenation. You can install simple espalier frames of Boston Ivy or go all out with a complex vertical wall of succulents, herbs or a rainforest wall of lush lilies, begonias, ferns and bromeliads. Green walls have the added ‘green benefit’ of absorbing reflected heat and cooling us down in the summer season.
Vertical planting also provides the element of texture and colour as the construction elements of the small courtyard garden should be kept simple and clean – large pavers add a sense of space, large wall mounted mirrors also contribute to the sense of space and serve the dual purpose of directing light and brightening shady spaces.
When considering the hard landscaping elements – the bones of the garden – delineate the functional spaces within your courtyard with internal walls, benches and planting etc. that are long and low on the vertical plane; allowing you to layout the area in a practical way without fragmenting and cluttering the overall space.
Choose your materials carefully; smooth textures and a consistent colour palette will create an uninterrupted visual flow that can make a small space appear more generous; match the existing building, pavers, retaining walls, timber and gravel.
The ‘borrowed landscape’ is an opportunity often over looked in small gardens; beyond your borders, neighboring views, trees etc. can become an essential element of your own garden adding ambiance and greenery. Consider the heights & material density of walls and fences, use screening plants and external windows, all without compromising your sense of privacy.