Contemporary courtyard design in Didsbury, Manchester.
Is it possible to create a stylish outdoor entertaining area when only a tiny walled courtyard space is available? This was one of the first questions my client asked during the initial design consultation in June 2015. Anything is possible I replied.
The client’s design brief was for a design that made the garden inviting and functional. Somewhere that he could entertain outside and be able to sit and chill. It was to be an extension of his kitchen area, accessed via large double French doors. Importantly it had to be very low maintenance. Oh and it had to have interesting plants too.
The courtyard area was a small 28m2 L-shaped space. It had partially whitewashed brick walls. Overgrown, mature ivy with huge trunks and suckering stems clothed the boundaries. The foliage encroached into the garden reducing the space available. Large shrubs, which had outgrown their allocated space didn’t help either.
One of the main difficulties, from a design point of view, was the condition of the courtyard boundary walls. Fortunately these were structurally sound but one of them did have a bow in it which would have made the construction of the elevated slatted timber screens impossible. The walls were very damp too.
It was decided to build an inner leaf to two sides. We did this to firstly address the bowed wall problem and secondly provide a new flat surface which could be successfully rendered. The third boundary wall was good enough to render straight onto the surface. As low maintenance was important, we decided to use the coloured K Rend in Antique White for all surfaces. The new paving was a limestone chosen for its warm tones. To provide privacy to the courtyard we extended the height of the boundaries by adding contemporary slatted screening. My client stated that he really liked the soft pallete of Cape Cod colours. I chose a paint colour for the screening in a soft blue/grey to emanate this effect.
The finished courtyard design enjoys built in seating with storage beneath. In the summer there will also be a coffee table and two lounging garden chairs in this corner. A sail shade will be fitted for shade and there’s an infra-red heater for chilly evenings. The borders are all uplit with stainless steel spots beneath each olive tree and the pleached black stemmed bamnboos.
Most of the plants in the courtyard are low maintenance evergreens, which provide interest throughout the year.