landscape ideas and landscape design



Courtyard and outdoor living ideas

Courtyard dining area

Courtyard Design by Scott Brown

A small courtyard like this makes good use of the space available, creates an attractive outlook from inside all year round, at night as well as during the day, and extends the inside living environment by combining the inside and the outside. It does all this without creating a heavy burden of maintenance, and is quite thrifty when it comes to water requirements.

The courtyard is divided into three sub-rooms.

The first is hidden from view, behind the water feature and its screen, and contains the clothes line. This "room" is accessed via a gate which forms one of the screen panels beside the water feature. The large feature pots (containing spectacular specimens of Yucca elephantipes), are actually set on wheeled trolleys, and can be moved for access to the gate, and therefore the clothesline.

The remaining two 'rooms' are visually linked, and consist of the main deck which houses the dining furniture, water feature and barbeque, and a smaller, paved area which houses a small café table and chairs. The smaller area provides a more intimate space for a 'cuppa' or a drink on one's own as well as a refuge for smokers during a larger gathering.

The main deck area is 'shielded' from both the rear fence and the clothesline area, by a screen constructed using "vision-panels". The screen and panels have been painted in a colour called "Elephant's Breath". This complements the house bricks, the deck, the red wine and rust colours of the pots, and the rusted look of the custom made water feature.

The planting has been kept very simple which creates a more relaxing vista, especially in small areas. A white-flowering compact azalea (Mrs Kint- White Dragon ) is mass planted, with dwarf
(Dutch) box which forms a border hedge for both the decked and paved areas of the courtyard. These plants are very hardy and surprisingly drought-tolerant given they are on the south side of the fence screen and at the base of large trees in the rear neighbor's yards. These plants are thriving even in our water- restricted regime in Melbourne.
Small side courtyard area

The use of pots on the decking is important to bring the garden onto the deck, therefore linking these elements together. The yuccas provide a modern sculptural ambience, as do the strap-like foliage of the dianella, cordyline "Sundance",and the Liriope "Evergreen Giant ". Rosemary, thyme and lemon-scented thyme, as well as a bay laurel tree in pots are positioned to receive appropriate amounts of light and heat, and to balance the aesthetic appeal of the courtyard. The aromas are quite wonderful, and it is very easy to grab sprigs for cooking.

The water feature is a stunning focal point of the outdoor room, and the quiet trickling of water adds an audible peacefulness to the relaxing visual affect of the space.

Coutyard design at night

As much as this courtyard is a great place to be (or to look out on) during the day; it is truly transformed at night. Thoughtful low voltage lighting design makes this courtyard an attractive outlook even in winter. And during good weather, a wonderful ambience can be enjoyed.

Scott Brown. M.A.I.L.D.M. M.A.I.H.

© 2013