Create a private sanctuary in your yard with inspiration from these beautiful courtyards.
Ron Ernst has his ducks in a row. Nearly 10 years ago, he bought an 1891 two-story town house in Thomasville, Georgia, and converted it into A Different Drummer Gallery, an antiques store specializing in sporting art to serve the town's avid hunting and fishing community. The house came with a bonus—a beautiful little walled garden out back that he could share with his customers.
Shaped by evergreens, the garden looks good year-round.
A slatted arbor shades a sitting area at one of this courtyard. Pots of seasonal flowers by the table and chairs add a spot of color to a palette of mostly greens, browns, and grays. A lattice fence helps screen the neighbor's house from view.
Similar to a folly, this pavilion acts as an eye-catching element that draws people in. Two pools on either side of the dining area add an extra dose of serenity.
The cottage garden courtyard ties the orginal home to the addition and has an intimate scale. Partially hidden from the street below, it creates intrigue—only the stone wall, gate, and a few plants can be seen. As you approach the front door, the 22½- by 27-foot space comes into view as a garden within the larger landscape.
This porch is gracefully connected to the courtyard below by two sets of descending steps. The courtyard is also surrounded by a high brick wall because it’s bordered on three sides by streets. Lush potted plants soften this hardscaped area while lending it some needed color.
Mixed pea and crushed gravel forms an attractive no-brain-to-maintain floor for a central courtyard that’s great for grilling and entertaining. Shrubs and flowers bordering the space create an outdoor living room, complete with a cast-iron fire pit for cool months, a birdbath, pots spilling over with flowers, and a faux-bois bench in the center. A large galvanized horse trough planted with ‘Green Giant’ arborvitaes provides an evergreen backdrop for the bench. Planting in containers (such as this trough) allows for flexibility as needs change or plants grow.
A ramada (planted arbor) provides a natural roof to shade this outdoor room. Simple metal chairs create a casual seating area on the gravel floor, while groupings of pots give the space color and further define its edges.
Stepping down into the 20- × 20-foot terrace that sits about 2 feet lower than the surrounding grade feels like entering a room. A low stone wall around this terrace also adds a sense of enclosure and offers extra seating.