Tips and Ideas for Transforming your Courtyard
Let’s take a look at some ideas, tips and tricks for turning a regular old courtyard into an amazing outdoor area.
Have fun with greenery
Greenery is an effective, revitalising addition to any courtyard space. Creating a garden (or at least the feel of a garden) helps to breathe life into outdoor living areas, whether large or small. There are a number of different ways to incorporate greenery into your courtyard. Here are a few popular options…
Courtyards usually have limited ground space for greenery, so climbing plants and trellises are always good choices.
If your courtyard has brick walls, you might like to try plants or vines that climb and cling to walls easily, such as creeping fig, star jasmine, clematis or even a passionfruit vine. Be aware that some plants may need to be trained and supported with a trellis-type structure before they are able to climb walls themselves.
If you’d rather your courtyard plants grow on trellises, there are plenty of great options – both for the climbing plants and the trellis itself. Bougainvillea, trumpet vine, pea vine, wisteria and clematis are popular choices when it comes to climbers. Trellises come in a variety of different materials and styles, from wire and wood to lattice or decorative wrought iron, and they can help to establish the overall theme or look of your courtyard.
Vertical (wall-mounted) gardens
Another option for non-ground-based plants is a vertical garden. This is basically a miniature garden made up entirely of small wall-mounted containers or pots. A vertical garden is a great way to save ground space and create an attractive feature wall at the same time. All you need to do is attach some sturdy brackets to one of your courtyard walls and fill them with gorgeous greenery.
Paint the walls
Painted feature walls aren’t just for inside! If you’ve got the right type of wall for it, try introducing a splash of paint to your courtyard. This might mean painting all the courtyard walls, or just one to create a feature or focus point.
If you’re creating a feature wall, consider using a bright colour to make the space more vibrant and lively. You can then model the rest of your colour scheme around the feature wall, choosing plant pots and furniture to match.
Use art pieces and/or mirrors
Who said art was just for your living room? Why not jazz up a wall in your courtyard with an impressive feature piece? Obviously this won’t work so well in a completely exposed courtyard, but if your space is relatively protected, a striking artwork can look really impressive.
Mirrors are also a handy and attractive addition to any courtyard. We all know the old trick of installing a mirror or two to give the illusion of extra space. This can be particularly effective in a small courtyard – a large mirror at one end will open up the space and make it look much bigger.
Try bringing a few traditionally ‘indoor’ accessories out into your courtyard. This might mean adding some colourful cushions to your outdoor furniture, or even a decorative rug on the ground. There are even options such as a fireplace/pit (if your courtyard is big enough), or an outdoor ‘ceiling’ fan (for creating a refreshing breeze), to further introduce that outdoor living room feel.
Make sure there is plenty of comfortable seating in your courtyard. If it’s a smaller space, you don’t want to overcrowd it, but do make sure there are at least a few comfy places to sit down. Depending on your chosen style, you may wish to go with traditional outdoor furniture or something a little different like an outdoor lounge/daybed. And for ultimate comfort, you could even introduce a hammock to your courtyard for lazy afternoons swinging in the breeze!
As well as protection from weather, you want protection from prying eyes! Depending on the location and style of your courtyard, you may need to introduce additional privacy measures to really get the most out of the space. Try screening the area with a decorative lattice or surrounding it with leafy trees.
Light it up
If you’re putting work into making your courtyard a nice space, you’ll obviously be spending a fair bit of time in it – including evenings. This means you need to consider the type of lighting you want to use. Lighting can have a huge effect on the appearance and mood of a courtyard, so it’s important to get it right.
The lighting you choose will depend on the overall purpose and style of your courtyard. If you’re creating an intimate space in a small courtyard, lanterns or candles might just be enough. In a larger courtyard that’s intended for hosting gatherings, you’ll probably want a variety of light sources. Try strings of warm gold fairy lights to create a festive atmosphere, accent lighting, such as an illuminated water feature, or even ‘hidden’ lighting, such as lights underneath flooring.
Introduce a key feature or focal point
Sometimes the key to creating an effective courtyard space is introducing a feature or focal point. Most commonly, this will be a water feature. Small features such as fountains, bubbling urns and miniature pools or ponds are perfect for courtyards. Placed at the centre or at one end of the space, a water feature always looks impressive, and the sound of running water provides a relaxing sense of calm.
Alternative focal points can be things like statues, larger plants, or even painted feature walls as we mentioned above.
With these ideas, tips and tricks in mind, you’ll be able to transform your basic courtyard into a beautiful outdoor living space.
Written by Claire Bradshaw