Courtyard patios, with four walls, provide private and cozy spaces to relax and enjoy a garden space. To maximize the courtyard patio, think about your needs and tastes and design the spot thoroughly before ordering materials. Considerations should include the type of hardscape needed, plants, shade requirements and extra furnishing details such as fire and water.
Hardscape Material Ideas
One of the first materials that should be chosen is the hardscape, which refers to the type of material used to create a solid outdoor "floor."
Concrete is available with color added to the mix or dyed afterward and in stamped designs. For example, you can get concrete poured to resemble flagstone. It's cheaper than natural stone.
Pavers are interlocking bricks usually made of concrete and available in colors such as red, tan, and gray. These offer texture but don't have any spaces between, so there's no need to worry about weeds poking through.
Brick is another option. There are two types: new concrete bricks or clay bricks. Clay bricks can sometimes be found salvaged from other projects and offer weathered character. However, clay bricks are prone to breaking. Some manufacturers now make new concrete bricks that have various surface colors, so they look old but are new and sturdy. Either can be laid on a bed of sand.
Flagstone is a natural stone option. Remember that flagstone won't have a completely even surface, so only use this if a more rustic or cottage-garden look appeals. Leave space between the flagstone pavers and grow moss or low-growing grass in between for extra character.
Fireplaces and Fire Pits
If you have the space, think about either a fireplace or a fire pit. These can be built yourself or purchased. They come in a variety of materials, from stucco to rock to clay or metals. Select the size and material that best suits the courtyard. A large fireplace can serve as a focal point.
Consider adding a fountain to the courtyard. Freestanding fountains are the most popular for these types of spaces, but you could also install a wall-mounted fountain if you have a bare wall. Include a way to hide the wiring from the fountain to the house, or buy a solar-powered fountain.
If laying down hardscape, plan whether you want to plant any greenery first. Leave spaces in the hardscape for large plants, such as trees and other perennials.
The other possibility is setting out containers of plants. In large pots, even trees can do well for years. Flowers can also be added, for color.
Before planting, take note of how much sun and warmth the courtyard receives. Courtyards, with their walls, often have a different climate than the rest of the garden.
Shade should be provided for maximum lounging comfort. A wooden pergola can house patio furniture and grow flower vines on top. Awnings made out of sun-resistant material can be attached to the wall. Plant a tree that will provide shade as it matures.