are everything in small courtyard design. The scaling down of size
increases the importance of every single individual element. Since the
ultimate intention of small courtyard design is to make a small yard appear
larger than it is, professional
landscapers must take great care in the creation of every form in order to
create a diminutive environment that will so captivate the eyes that it creates
an optical illusions of inverted proportion and perspective in relation to the
There is tremendous
benefit to small courtyard design. A courtyard can transform a space too
small to use as a work or outdoor living area into a special zone of interest
and décor. Garden elements, lighted
masonry, and ornamental seating arrangements can then be added to generate a
fusion of hardscape, light, and softscape design. This creates a sustained
epiphany of tranquility and comfort—perfect for intimate gatherings of family
There are five major considerations when
undertaking the construction of a courtyard of this nature.
first of these is the intended purpose of the small courtyard.
Design follows function in the landscaping
business. We try to avoid building structures that only exist for
people to look it.
It is much better
to create something aesthetic that will also perform a function. To
determine possible functions, we ask questions. Will this area be used
only for conversation? Will there be outdoor cooking involved?
Will this courtyard only be used in the warm months, or will there be winter
gatherings that a fireplace or fire pit could add warmth and ambience to the
occasion? How important is light and sound to special gatherings,
and if important, what about a lighted fountain to contribute running water and
illumination to the moment?
Answering these questions first before planting gardens and undertaking
masonry work is the bridge to cross in small courtyard design.
second consideration to take into account is accessibility.
If you want your courtyard to be a fluid structure that people can move in and
out of freely, then boundaries can be made of hedges or ground cover plants and
a patio surface can be built with radial access points fanning out in multiple
directions. This is a great way to make a small courtyard the hub of an
intricate network of garden trails and lighting pathways that criss cross
throughout the property, further magnifying the illusion that the yard is much,
much bigger than it actually is.
On the other hand,
many clients prefer a more intimate and private small courtyard design.
For these homeowners, landscape designers will build small decorative walls
around the patio seating area to create a sense of special separation from the
surrounding Houston landscape. These walls are still low enough to the
ground to provide a view of the home and the yard, but tall enough at the same
time to create a sense of enclosure and retreat.
third consideration that must always be held in mind is shade
resistance. Small courtyard design is more often than not done in
areas of the yard where homes, roofs, outdoor buildings, and large trees block
the majority of the sunlight. Not just any plants will grow in these
darker areas. In order to overcome these Landscapers
compensate for this in two ways.
elements, we choose shade resistant ground cover and flowering plants that do
not need a lot of light to flourish. For hardscapes, we install path and
garden lighting to illuminate surfaces in twilight and evening times. For
contemporary landscapes, we may also use strategically positioned reflective
elements like stainless steel posts or mirrors that will catch what light that
does shine into the courtyard and disperse it in other directions.
4. Height is a fourth
consideration that must be kept in mind when choosing plants.
Plants that grow quickly become too large for the courtyard. Residential
landscape designers must select low-level plants to keep proportions
equal. This creates a second challenge—that of everything looking too
“flat” to the ground.
This challenge must also be worked around.
Planters, special pottery, and elevated portions of the hardscape must be built
to add dimension and structure to an otherwise diminutive and one-dimensional
reality. Masonry structures built from brick, stone, concrete, or any
numbers of colorful design materials are key to this process.
fifth consideration in small courtyard design is professional
maintenance. Certain smaller plants can sometimes be very
vulnerable to parasites and fungus. Many of these species are exotic
plants that need special soil mixtures and optimal care to flourish.
Homeowners should be prepared to protect their investment by contracting their
landscape professional on a routine quarterly maintenance plan.
As intricate as
small courtyard design must be by nature, one does not need a lot of space to
have it done right. A small courtyard can be built in a space as small as
the area between the house and the garage or a fence.