A courtyard garden can be a private retreat created to relax with family, entertain with friends and to garden with pleasure. Courtyard gardens are small spaces, so be careful to avoid including too many plants that can grow to create an impenetrable jungle or summertime sauna!


1. Drainage: poor drainage and flooding can be problems with courtyards that are predominantly hard landscaped areas. In this case alleviate the problem by using containers for plantings.

2. Shade: high walls and adjoining buildings can restrict the amount of sunlight reaching your courtyard. If this is an issue, select shade tolerant plants or use pots on wheels that can be moved about easily.

3. Heat: paved courtyards with poor ventilation may result in heat build up. Plants will help to cool the area but their water requirements will be high so install an efficient watering system.

4. Shallow Soil: If soil depth is less than 500mm before reaching clay, then build up garden beds to avoid plants literally drowning in the soil. Do not dig into or plant in heavy clay as your plants will not survive.

5. Space: limited space should not inhibit your ability to design well. Remember to use your vertical (upright) spaces as well as your horizontal spaces. You can use columnar or standard plant varieties along paths; espaliered fruit trees on a wall; a scented creeper on a trellis; strawberries in hanging baskets; or position small potted plants on the steps of an old ladder.