Get Away From It All In your Own Back Yard

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Courting Tips Looking to update your existing patio or create one? Consider a courtyard as your next outdoor project. These intimate outdoor spaces have been delighting homeowners as far back as 3000 BC.

Courtyards are customarily identified as being open to the sky and closed off on 3 or 4 sides using walls, buildings or plantings. Originally used for cooking over a fire pit, both private residents and city planners incorporated them into homes and communal spaces. When used in a residential setting, one side typically opens up to the house, making them an extension of the home and living space.  Common commercial uses include city squares used for entertainment venues, public gardens, and outdoor dining; because they offer such a sense of community.

The Walls are Not Closing In

Often enclosed by walls, courtyards offer a great solution for homeowners with uneven land or for those who live on a hillside. Retaining walls provide support and are used to help change a lot's "grade". Adding this structural enclosure offers privacy in both small and wide open spaces; and provides the backdrop in your courtyard. These walls can be adorned with outdoor decorative items, hanging plants, lighting fixtures or fountains. For larger courtyards, you can incorporate installed seating, (benches) for extra seating.

Old World Charm or Contemporary Elegance

Found worldwide, these gathering places can be made to complement any architectural style.  Since they are not limited to any particular region, a decorative paver foundation is a great start to creating your private al fresco dining space or secret garden.

  • Stucco homes nationwide are creating private retreats with old world charm by using rustic cobblestones in earthy colors. Create a Spanish hacienda feel by using wrought iron furniture, terra cotta pots and colorful tile pieces to add color and interest.  Then bring some life into the space by adding palm, banana leaf and elephant ear plants.
  • Bluestone or slate pavers work well with contemporary homes. Design elements include clean/straight lines in furniture and layout, geometric patterns, dramatic lighting and plants.
  • Formal or classic architecture often uses brick pavers to create walkways and paths around a center garden or an outdoor water feature. Planting low level hedges and symmetrical garden designs are reminiscent of an English garden or castle courtyard.

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Once you decide on your courtyard style, you'll need to decorate the space to match your lifestyle and décor. And don't feel you are limited to having smaller furniture in smaller spaces. Using larger and grander pieces actually makes these spaces appear larger and grander. Popular additions to courtyards include:

  • Statuary
  • Fireplaces
  • Birdbaths
  • Fountains
  • Lanterns
  • Container groupings
  • Mosaic wall art

Whatever you budget is, with a little creativity you can to travel to a new land, right in your own backyard.