What are the Different Options for Courtyard Landscaping?

Dan Cavallari

Courtyard landscaping options will vary according to several factors, including size, shape, available sunlight throughout the day, and overall climate of the region in which the courtyard is built. Most courtyards feature some sort of focal point, such as a fountain, fish pond, tree, or even a patio area for sitting or dining. The options for courtyard landscaping are limitless, but a smart builder will consider the factors that regularly affect the courtyard space before designing and implementing the courtyard landscaping plan. Some options for designs include garden spaces, dining areas, recreational areas, wildlife habitats, or simple fountain designs.

A fish pond in a courtyard.
A fish pond in a courtyard.

To begin the process of deciding on the best option for courtyard landscaping, one should measure the area carefully. This allows the builder to make decisions for landscaping based on how much space is available; a large fountain might not look very good in an extremely small space, so it is important to know the limitations of the courtyard before starting the process. The available sunlight the area receives daily will also affect the courtyard landscaping plans. A garden may sound like a great idea for a certain space, but if that area does not receive adequate sunlight throughout the day, the plants may die or otherwise struggle, transforming the space into a depressing, dead area.

Courtyards may be surrounded by exotic palm plants to give an area a more tropical feel.
Courtyards may be surrounded by exotic palm plants to give an area a more tropical feel.

Some courtyards are best used for dining areas or meeting areas. Pavers can be laid to create a solid ground suitable for tables and chairs, and small retaining walls can be built to hold decorative gardens and plant life. If one chooses to use the courtyard for such purposes, it is important to avoid cluttering the area with too many accents. The builder should leave plenty of room for people to move about, and for tables and chairs to be placed in the space. A small or medium-sized focal point in the center of the courtyard makes a nice accent. A tree or fountain can do the trick, though other accents can be used as well.

While some courtyards may exist simply for decorative purposes, other courtyard landscaping ideas may be more functional. A spice garden may be planted, or the space can be used to build a habitat for birds and other small wildlife. Fish can be stocked in a small pond as well. One should keep in mind, however, that such a design will probably necessitate more maintenance to ensure the safety and overall quality of the habitat.

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