A Tiny Courtyard Garden

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Linking two larger gardens with clever use of materials

Most gardens are for sitting in and entertaining however this small courtyard garden is an interlude between the front and back gardens of large black and white house. The walls of the house being white and the windows black famed with leaded bars inside them. Details like this could seem unimportant when considering the garden spaces however if you think of the garden as a series of ’rooms outside’, then the walls of the house become part of the ‘room‘. You wouldn’t decorate a room inside the house without careful attention to the walls and same applies to the outside spaces adjacent to the house.

As with many spaces like this one there is the opportunity to put the bin here, so a structure to hide the bin was really important. The clients asked for a water feature to be included as well, where it could be seen from one the windows in the house.

I was designing the front garden for this property as well as this space and decided that white pebbles were a good way to link the garden spaces and the white house. Pebbles come ready coloured and don’t fade! Looking in the back garden there was a rectangle of bricks set into the patio, in ‘basket weave’ effect. As this area links the front and back gardens I wanted to include the bricks and the pebbles to set up a relationship to each of the other areas. Bearing in mind that you really want to keep your palette of materials to a minimum this left perhaps one other material to form the hard landscaping in this courtyard. I found a very small cobble, only 5 centimetres square, which would make the space look bigger and because of the way it was made, would look old as soon as it was laid.

The bricks went into the design as the retaining edges for the cobbles and the pebbles were always going to be needed around the water feature. We also had a patch of cobbles set in mortar and softened by planting, as in several spots the front garden.

After considering several water features the clients settled on a Granite sphere which picked up the silver grey of the leaded lights in the windows. The planting I designed to have only white flowers and a variety of leaf shapes. Most of the borders were in shade for most of the time.