Courtyard gardens filled with bright blooms and vibrant foliage create a striking display. Often, courtyard gardens are exposed to the elements, like full sun, so having plants that are drought- and heat-tolerant help to create a hardy garden. Mixing in plants of varying colors, textures and heights creates a harmonious balance to the garden. Adding a specimen plant like a flowering tree or shrub creates a focal point to the garden courtyard.
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is a deciduous tree with bright dissected foliage, creating an showy courtyard garden plant. They have a slow to moderate growth rate and dense form with spreading branches that creates a layered display. Japanese maple trees grow 15 to 25 feet in height and 10 to 25 feet wide. The green leaves grow up to 5 inches long and turn fiery colors of purple, red and yellow in fall followed by small purple to red flowers. Japanese maple trees grow best in light shade and evenly moist soil that is well-drained. Protect the Japanese maple from drying winds to prevent damage. Japanese maple trees are suitable in USDA zones 5 to 8.
Blue fescue (Festuca glauca (Festuca ovina var. glauca)) is a variety of ornamental grass that withstands both and heat and drought, making it a hardy choice for a courtyard. It has a dense, tufted mound that is finely textured and a moderate growth rate. The attractive blue to green foliage grows in an upright, dome shape. The needle-like, blue to green blades on blue fescue are erect to arching in form. Blue fescue makes a brilliant accent plant around the courtyard or when planted in masses, a hardy ground cover. They grow 6 to 10 inches tall and have light green to pale purple summer-blooming flowers that grow on upright panicles. Blue fescue grows best in full sun, but tolerates light shade. It requires well-drained soil to thrive. Plant in USDA zones 4 to 9.
Lance-leaved coreopsis is a perennial flower with bright yellow blooms. Each solitary bloom has a toothed edging and dark brown center that makes for an attractive courtyard garden flower. Lance-leaved coreopsis is drought-tolerant and has an aggressive growth rate to fill the courtyard garden in a short period. It reaches a maximum height of 3 feet and has a spread of 1 to 3 feet. Growing in upright clumps, coreopsis emerges in early summer to last through the season. They attract both bees and butterflies to the courtyard. Coreopsis grows best in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. They are suitable in USDA zones 4 to 9.