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Ideas on Landscaping a Small Courtyard

By Callie Barber ; Updated September 21, 2017

Just because you have a small courtyard doesn’t mean you can’t create your very own lush space. When adding plants and flowers to a courtyard, remember that less is more. A simple row of perennial blooms lining a courtyard path creates just as much punch as a large perennial garden. Keep cool colors inside the courtyard like blues and greens. These blooms visually blend in with the space to create the illusion of a larger area and do not overwhelm the courtyard.


Create a focal point along the back of the courtyard with an arbor. An arbor does not take up a lot of space and when covered with a flower-filled creeping vine, the courtyard looks stunning. Arbors create height inside a small space. Around the base of the arbor, grow a perennial vine such as wisteria, honeysuckle or jasmine. These vines are hardy and fast growing and will have your arbor covered in no time. Around the base of the arbor, plant black-eyed Susans for a splash of yellow. These perennial blooms are drought tolerant and create a showy design beginning in the summer.

Water Feature

Add a small water feature to the courtyard for a serene and tranquil design. Water features add the sounds of trickling music around the courtyard for a peaceful space. A small container feature is perfect for nestling within the courtyard garden. It does not require much space but packs a big impact with its soothing sound. Around the fountain, add soothing flowers and plants in greens and blues. For bright contrast within a courtyard, find a water feature with bright colors and patterns. This brightens up the space for an unexpected touch.

Trees and Shrubs

Create privacy within the courtyard with a medium-sized tree or shrub. Place the plant along a courtyard wall for a shaded retreat in the landscape. Japanese maple and olive trees both do an excellent job of creating privacy while providing beautiful foliage to the courtyard. They are not too large to take over the courtyard, yet they provide a stunning addition to the space. Another lovely shrub is an arborvitae. This evergreen bush has yellowish-green foliage that looks vibrant, even in the winter. Because of their ability to keep their leaves all year long, evergreens keep the courtyard looking alive in the winter.


Turn your small courtyard into an oasis of blooms and colors with flower-filled containers. Container gardening turns an outdoor space into a bright and inviting respite. Containers come in a wide range of colors and sizes to help you to create your own design. They look especially lovely clustered together to form a small garden. To create a simple and balanced container, mix annuals and perennial blooms together. Bring in accents of green using creeping thyme or sedum at the front of each container.


About the Author


Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.