1. Take advantage of protected microclimates
2. Select small deciduous trees
3. Use a tall evergreen tree if space allows
4. Use deciduous climbers for seasonal cover
5. Select upright plants for tight spaces
6. Take advantage of vertical surfaces
Land keeps getting more expensive and space is getting tighter.
In the inner city, and even in the suburbs, we're seeing more and more courtyard gardens - small outdoor spaces enclosed by walls on all sides.
Room in these gardens comes at a premium so it's essential to make the most of the space available. If you're lucky there's enough room for a water feature or a lap pool but the one real necessity is an outdoor entertaining area. A flat, paved area for a table setting - with good access to the kitchen and easy flow between the indoors and out - to relax and have meals in with family and friends.
These courtyards are more protected from the worst frosts and winds, even in colder areas. While more tender plants might grow here than in the neighbour's bigger garden, plants in courtyards often have to withstand the high sun in at the hottest part of summer days, yet survive in shade the rest of the time.
Choose small deciduous trees to give yourself and your plants some cover from the hot summer sun. Or if you're brave and can find a spot away from foundations and utilities, plant a taller evergreen tree that the sun will sneak under as it gets lower in the cooler months.
Climbing plants can be trained up and over a sheltering pergola. With so many walls and vertical surfaces, finding a climber for a trellis or to twine around a post is a good way to add layers and depth to the confined spaces of your courtyard garden. Plants with upright habit tend to stay out of the way in narrow areas.
The Plant This Plant Selector can help you choose plants to suit your courtyard garden.
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Plant of the Day
Fire Cracker Grevillea
Plant type: evergreen shrub
H: 0.4m W: 0.8m
Sunlight: hot overhead sun
Evergreen shrubs create permanent structure but deciduous shrubs offer seasonal variety with flowers, fruit, autumn leaf colour and dramatic bare winter stems.
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