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Courtyard garden ideas: Secluded landscaping designs for tranquil hideaways

Ready to create a botanical oasis using our courtyard garden ideas for inspiration? Whether it's a wildlife rewilding effort, a contemporary zen garden, or a designer landscape, let us influence your next renovation.

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We have lots of courtyard garden ideas waiting for you to scroll through. If you’re looking to create a calm and relaxing space to enjoy the great outdoors, keep reading for our top tips.

Courtyards are wonderful, secluded spots that work well whether they’re bursting with life, toned down and minimalist, or decked out with the latest designer features and furniture.

How do I make my courtyard garden look good?

Courtyard garden outdoor dining

There are plenty of ways to beautify your courtyard. Consider the following to get you started:

  • Grow some shade-loving plants
  • Incorporate a feature for maximum impact (e.g., a ‘living’ wall, fire pit, flower bed, or a pergola).
  • Stick to clean lines and repetitive patterns for instant tranquillity
  • Build upwards, not outwards to maximise a smaller space
  • Add a trellis to a feature wall and plant creepers
  • Distribute mismatched plant pots for a shabby chic/low-maintenance finish
  • Include easy-to-tidy rattan furniture – perfect for summer evenings
  • Install a water feature or pond

What can you do with a small courtyard garden?

Pretty plants in a small courtyard

There is so much you can do with a small courtyard garden! From paving slabs to plants, trees to steps, and water features to seating areas – courtyards are versatile and adaptable for year-long enjoyment.

Here are some key things to consider when designing your courtyard:

  • Due to the shadier nature of courtyards, be sure to plant perennials that are happier in areas with less light
  • Bold and creative courtyards require careful planning to avoid overpowering the space
  • Build upwards and use all the space available to create a usable courtyard fit for a gathering of 6 or more
  • Consider festoon lighting, firepits or floor lanterns that allow you to use the courtyard after dark
  • Water features are an instant showstopper, so consider installing one for an easy design hack
  • Benches, arbours, furniture packs, living walls, and potted plants are just some of the features you can incorporate into your courtyard design

If you’re still not sure, find a landscaper near you to help you out!

What can I plant in a courtyard garden?

Courtyard plants and furniture

Several plants love courtyards, but the most common are the following:

  • Big-leaved plants such as cigar, Japanese aralia, hostas and bear’s breeches
  • Climbing plants such as ivy, wisteria, clematis vines and rambler roses
  • Hanging baskets with colourful plants like box balls, tangerine hibiscus and trumpet creepers
  • Window boxes with wildflowers that will attract and support the declining bee population

Top tip: Be(e) sure to water your plants regularly to avoid wilting leaves and flower-less stems.

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Courtyard design ideas and inspiration: Get ready for a botanical transformation

Consider chequered features for a symmetrical oasis

Chequered garden lawn and flowers

Symmetry and patterns in your courtyard garden design create areas of interest, which lead the eye and offer a sense of tranquillity.

Why not incorporate a fun feature like this checkerboard perennial patch (pictured) to give your courtyard the maximum ‘wow factor?’ Not only will it purify the air and create a hiding place for wildlife and other types of biodiversity, but it’s also lovely to look at while you sit on a bench and watch the world go by.

Brown mosaic tiles border the plant patch, contrasting the brightness of the flowers by mimicking soil. Finished with thick bushes and shrubs to create privacy and shade, it’s a courtyard that invites you to kick back and relax.

Go avant-garde with your garden design and courtyard ideas

Corner flower bench in garden design

With the array of materials used, this contemporary-chic courtyard incorporates lots of interest and character. Bordered by tall bushes for privacy, the landscape is split into a low-maintenance gravel patch and lawn area.

Rectangular concrete stepping stones bridge the two spaces, placed at various angles for a unique design aesthetic, while the plain brown bench offers a low-key spot to sit and relax.

The calathea cigar plants at the back of the garden are tall and vibrant, their large leaves adding drama and intrigue to this clean and contemporary courtyard.

Small courtyard garden ideas create the perfect hideaways

Small courtyard garden design

Turn your courtyard into an oasis by incorporating a pond and water feature. Not only are ponds great for biodiversity, but they’re also a tranquil and relaxing feature that turns any space into a haven away from the world.

This gorgeous pond uses slate stone bricks around the periphery, while a jug feature in the centre is surrounded by water hyacinths for a burst of colour. Two complementary sun loungers offer a spot to bask in the afternoon sun, while the potted roses give everything a ‘secret garden’ aesthetic.

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Build bloomin’ beautiful cottage courtyard garden ideas

Cottage courtyard garden ideas

These keen gardeners chose a stripped-back and natural courtyard, incorporating lots of wildflowers and shrubs to flesh out the area.

Rewilding efforts are growing (pun intended) in popularity. Their purpose is to aid the bees and encourage wildlife and biodiversity. Plant options include primrose, yarrow, cornflowers, daisies and bee orchids. However, there are plenty to choose from if you’re looking to fill your courtyard garden with fragrant botanicals.

To finish the space, this cottage-chic courtyard uses chevron paving stones and a simple carved wooden bench, which are easy ways to make even the smallest areas ooze with character and style.

Make it summer all year round with these walled courtyard garden ideas

orange wall in courtyard garden

For those of you with a walled courtyard, there’s one very easy way to make it pop. Paint it!

Opt for warm colours such as terracotta, green, teal, burnt orange or violet. These colours are regularly found in nature and will naturally complement almost any garden aesthetic.

These courtyard designers opted for an integrated pond that incorporates a waterfall running the length of the far wall. However, they didn’t waste any space and filled the gaps with raised flowerbeds and lots of colourful botany. The purple Acer trees are a wonderful courtyard addition, characterised by their hardy nature and rich purple leaves.

As always, the look is finished off with a bench, which invites the occupants to sit and take a load off after a long day glued to their desks.

Respect your privacy with shady courtyard garden ideas

Seating area in courtyard design

Gabion baskets are always on-trend. Hardy, stylish, and versatile, you can adapt them to any garden and style. This courtyard has topped its gabion baskets with seating planks and filled them with large boulders of varying shades.

Two rows of Himalayan birch trees intersperse within the gabion basket patterns, creating easy symmetry for a clean and aesthetically pleasing finish. They’re each bordered with foliage to protect their roots, while the peripheral planters house agapanthus, grasses and achillea.

Related content: New-build garden ideas to fill your new outdoor space.

Create a zen zone with a bordered contemporary garden design

Swing chair in small garden

This contemporary garden utilises the law of layers to create a contemporary aesthetic. For example, the design revolves around the garden swing chair, which is the main feature, then ripples outwards with circular design elements

These include the grass area, which is bordered by block paving slabs, in turn, bordered by flower beds, and then enclosed in arched lattice screening to give everything a sense of privacy.

Symmetry is used in the form of potted topiary bushes on either side of the swing chair, while ornaments are interspersed within the flowerbeds to add personal style and character.

Related content: Rockery ideas.

Choose a modern courtyard with plenty of botanical features

Small garden patio design

Sleek lines and crisp edges work well in modern design, where everything has a shape and purpose. Large sweeping bushes and tall trees contrast with clean-cut hedges, limewashed steps and walls, and minimalistic paving.

Other design elements include a small bamboo pergola and a black granite water feature, both of which give a nod to Japanese-styled gardens, giving this garden an instant charm offensive.

Like what you see? There’s more where this came from. Check out Checkatrade’s blog for more tips, ideas, how-tos, and inspiration.

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