Create a private sanctuary in your yard with inspiration from these beautiful courtyards.
English Courtyard Fountain
What's more peaceful than a quiet fountain? Low hedges of closely trimmed Japanese boxwoods outline a quartet of formal parterres separated by gravel paths, all centered around a fountain and small pond in this courtyard garden.
Once a pool, this peaceful English courtyard garden is filled with roses, hollyhocks, and foxgloves. Potted evergreen topiaries lend interest to the parterres when the roses are dormant. It's a slice of British heaven in the Deep South.
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.
Classical Garden Pavilion
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.
Cottage Garden Courtyard
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.
An open iron gate bids you welcome. Like many gardens in historic Charleston, this one entices at first glance and then surprises with details. A series of discrete spaces is defined by paving and planting beds.
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.
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Colorfully Accented Courtyard
Because hardscape and evergreens take up most of the space, the inclusion of colorful plants was critical to this courtyard. At the foot of the boxwoods, a small flowerbed peeks out. In addition, pots of flowers, which are changed seasonally, concentrate color at strategic points.
A forecourt is in the front and serves as the entry to the house. It truly integrates the space into the home. This masonry arch and doorway are essentially the front door of the house, with the courtyard being the foyer to the home. The use of a door rather than a gate adds a stylish touch.
Bricks, pavers, shrubs, perennials, and flowering annuals give this courtyard texture and color. A 12-foot-wide circular terrace is made of salvaged brick and 6-inch-square concrete pavers. A border around the terrace is planted with 'Indigo Moon' torenias, 'Saturn' coleus, and 'Black Magic' elephant's ears. The elephant's ears and coleus both provide showy foliage from late spring till fall, while torenias continuously produce a spreading carpet of small blue flowers.
Zero lot line homes are growing in popularity. A popular plan recesses the front door, with an entry courtyard for guests. Dimensional bluestone pads, only 3 feet in width, give more planting room on either side of this walkway. Divided by black Mexican rocks, the 50-foot-long path looks shorter than it is. Making a right-angle jog, it connects the door to the front sidewalk and accommodates an eye-catching water feature.
Colorful Cottage Courtyard
A bubbling fountain and comfortable seating make this courtyard an inviting place to visit with friends and neighbors. Plants with unusual leaves, such as lamb's ears, cannas, coleus, hostas, and ferns, add texture and form. Blooming perennials such as summer phlox (Phlox paniculata), black-eyed Susans, lilies, and coneflowers also thrive here.
Intimate Courtyard for Entertaining
A wall-mounted lion’s head emits a small stream of water into an oval urn, which is tipped slightly away from the wall so water spills over the front edge. A catch basin below the urn collects the overflow. The recirculating fountain is visually pleasing and also creates sound and movement to draw birds and keep the water from becoming stagnant and attracting mosquitoes. Pieces of moss tucked in between the stones give the floor materials an aged look. Water from the fountain splashes on small, black, polished pebbles between the flagstones, making them glisten.
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.
The different “rooms” in this courtyard are defined by the ground materials. The living area features a perfect turf “rug” surrounded by brick.
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.