Backyard courtyard ideas: our top 10

Published by Daphne Dubois on Aug 30, 2020

Are you working with a small backyard? Unsure how to properly landscape it? In this article, we will introduce you to 10 backyard courtyard ideas that will allow you to get the most out of your small backyard. Courtyards may be small, but they can, if done right, be beautiful spaces in which you can relax and unwind with your loved ones. Sit back and let us inspire you with these 10 backyard courtyard ideas for your exterior space! 

1. Add lighting

Our first courtyard idea is to add lighting! When designing your backyard courtyard, it is important to think of different ways to make this space as warm and inviting as possible. The key to designing the ultimate courtyard garden is to bring the indoors out. Create a space that is as comfortable as the interior of your house, while also benefitting from the natural elements of the outdoors. Therefore, adding warm lighting to your garden design is a must. You can either add string lights in the surrounding trees and foliage or add lanterns to create a magical glow at night. Lighting is an easy and cost-effective way to create a warm nook in your backyard that you won’t ever want to leave.


Featured product: Westmount paver 


2. Frame your courtyard

Our second courtyard garden idea is to frame your space! When one thinks of backyard courtyards, one pictures an abundance of greenery. If you aren’t sure about where to place your surrounding plants and flowers, think of growing them around your courtyard garden to frame it. Small backyard courtyards become larger than life when adding elements that make you feel surrounded by nature. To achieve that, we recommend you frame your courtyard with dense borders of greenery, creating the illusion that you are in the great outdoors! It also creates structure in your courtyard and properly defines the space.


Featured product: Borealis patio slab

3. Water features

Water features are a great courtyard design idea! Courtyard gardens are designed to be a relaxing space that connects you with nature. That being said, what is more relaxing than a water fountain? A bubbly water feature can be used to block out the surrounding neighborhood sounds, creating a zen atmosphere in your backyard courtyard. You can either create a custom water fountain that trickles into a small pond or buy a pre-assembled one and surround it with flowers and plants. If done right, this feature can also become the focal point in your landscape design, drawing the eye from the inside of your home. Sit back, relax and enjoy the sound of the trickling water coming from your courtyard centerpiece. Feeling relaxed?

water feature

Featured products: Industria Polished patio slab and Graphix retaining wall 

4. Built-in benches

Built-in benches are a great backyard courtyard idea for those working with a very small backyard. Instead of installing chairs that just take up more room, why not install built-in benches. These additions are ideal for small spaces, as they can accommodate a lot of people while taking up very little space. Add a table for a proper dining area or install a small fire pit to create the illusion that you’re in an Arizona retreat. Throw in some plush cushions and a blanket and you’ve achieved the perfect backyard oasis.


Featured products: Travertina Raw patio slab and Travertina Raw retaining wall 

5. Keep it simple

As a rule of thumb, you should always remember to keep it simple in small backyard courtyards. We recommend you only use one material to dress the floor of your space. Courtyard gardens are designed to be a relaxing space for you to unwind in your backyard. Make sure you don’t overwhelm your space with an abundance of colors, patterns and materials. Keep your courtyard design simple with a single patio slab and a reduced palette of materials and plantings to ensure cohesiveness in your oasis. Add in a few lounging chairs and enjoy!


Featured product: Diamond Smooth paver

6. Add some colorful accents

If you’re keeping it simple by dressing up the floor of your small backyard courtyard with a neutral-toned patio slab or paver, but want to add some color to your landscape design, think of adding colorful flowers and plants. Your foliage is where you can really get creative. Include some colorful plants, some striking boxwoods and a few colorful potted flowers to draw the eye. Again, it’s important not to overdo it. Select a few strategic points and let your creativity run wild! The key is to create a wow factor in your backyard courtyard without overdoing it.


Featured products: Travertina Raw patio slab and Borealis patio slab

7. Sunken Terrace

Create dimension in your backyard courtyard by installing a sunken courtyard. Stepping down into a terrace that sits lower than the surrounding terrain creates the illusion that you’re entering a room. It adds a feeling of intimacy without having to add high walls. A low stone wall allows you to create built-in seating. Accommodate more people while taking up less space. Add in a fire pit or a low coffee table and you’ve got yourself the perfect entertaining spot in your backyard!


Featured product: Raffinato Smooth retaining wall 

8. Create some shade

Another great courtyard idea is to add some much needed shade! For most small courtyards, overhead protection from the sun is key, as most enclosed spaces heat up very quickly. Overhead structures also protect you from rain, allowing you to enjoy your backyard courtyard no matter the weather. There are many overhead options on the market for you to choose from. From automatic louvre roofs and retractable awnings, to more affordable shade sails and UV-resistant polycarbonate sheeting, there are no shortage of options. If you want to create some shade the natural way, why not plant a tree in your courtyard garden? Not only can it serve as buffer between you and the sun, but it can also become a centerpiece in your yard. Dress it up with some string lights for an enchanted garden feel.


Featured products: Borealis retaining wall and Travertina Raw patio slab 

9. Extend the indoors

The most sought-after backyard courtyards are the ones that are an extension of the indoors. Courtyard gardens are meant to feel like you’re still indoors but with surrounding outdoor elements. First of all, there should be an easy and clear path between the two, emphasizing the connection. Next, you should incorporate similar materials between the two, so as to create a natural flow from one end to the other. Our Borealis patio slab, for example, can be used to recreate the hardwood flooring you have inside. Working with large tiles indoors? Try out our large Blu Grande patio slab in a smooth texture.


Featured products: Blu Grande Polished and Borealis patio slabs with a Borealis retaining wall 

10. Go vertical

Our final backyard courtyard idea is to go vertical in your outdoor space! If you have high surrounding walls, climbers allow you to warm up the space and make it more visually appealing. They also play on the enchanted garden look. Add climbers such as star jasmine, native clematis or bougainvillea to add texture to your space. Add some string lights or some hanging lanterns and you’ve got yourself the coziest backyard courtyard in the neighborhood. Not only do these climbers add aesthetic to the space, they also add scent, which only amplifies the outdoor experience.


Featured product: Squadra paver 

Looking for more backyard courtyard ideas? Check out our Landscape Catalog to find the products that will help bring your dream courtyard to life!