Creating a Courtyard Garden in the UAE

Courtyards are a challenge to design but they are also very rewarding when done correctly.

A lot of emphasis seems to be put on designing large gardens and commercial or open spaces in the UAE. But many people have courtyard gardens, which can be overlooked when designing.

At a glance the basic set up of a small space would scare people away, but there is much that can be done with a courtyard using its high walls and prominent features as a starting block.

Courtyards are normally positioned off the main living room and can totally transform a property; softening the view from inside, creating shade into these highly used rooms, making the area feel larger and setting a relaxed and inviting mood inside and out.

Courtyards are a challenge to design but they are also very rewarding when done correctly. It is a difficult process organising all of the features required for a small area. But the best thing about designing these is that because it is a small space, everything looks magnified. This gives you the ability to go into greater detail with the design. Budgets can also be stretched further.

Breaking the mould for normal gardens can produce good results too. The walls that surround these should be looked at as a feature rather than the boring sandstone coloured walls they normally are. A focal point for a small garden is a great place to start. The common place to put a feature is off the main viewing area. This is the best design feature for a long narrow courtyard because it draws the eye through the garden. A focal point can be anything from a water feature, sculpture, garden art or even a plant.

I find keeping things simple and using high quality product works best. Ensure colour tones are natural and earthy, minimise the use of plant species, repeat your feature shrubs and plant in triangles. Using natural products such as stone works well and a wall cladding can have a great effect. Just be mindful to not get carried away.

The last thing to think about is lighting. Up lighting on features and down lighting on walls and pergolas is a simple place to start.