The Cult of the Courtyard: 10 Backyard Ideas for Small Spaces


Courtyard gardens, enclosed on all sides by walls or fences, can transform a cramped space into an oasis. They preserve privacy while welcoming sunlight. They make even the smallest home feel larger. We’ve collected 10 of our favorites:


Color Code

Above: By putting colorful patchwork tile on nearly every inch of the walls and floors of a tiny house’s open-air kitchen and courtyard garden, Vietnam-based architects a21studio transformed the miniscule into something magnificent. For more of this garden, see Saigon Story: Crazy Quilt Tile in a Courtyard Garden. Photograph courtesy of a21studio.


Balcony Views

When garden designer Brook Klausing first saw his clients’ townhouse backyard in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, it looked bleak: a chain-link fence, an old concrete patio, and a patch of hard-packed dirt. No more. For more of this garden, see Garden Designer Visit: Brook Klausing Elevates a Brooklyn Backyard. Photograph courtesy of Brook Landscape.



Privacy Please

Above: In Manhattan, an airy hedge of bamboo provides screening at the garden’s perimeter while a pared-down palette of green and white focuses the eye on the center of the space. “The white limestone is like a canvas. When the sun is directly overhead, you can see the shadows of the bamboo and other plants starkly against it,” says designer Julie Farris. Photograph by Matthew Williams.


Elegant Restraint

A high-low mix of luxury and restraint (and clipped boxwood balls) lend a European air to Kristin Meidell’s Brooklyn courtyard garden. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista. For more of this garden, see our book, Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.