Renovating a Front Courtyard Garden
How a small courtyard was transformed into a relaxing & intimate entrance
When Alida Aldrich was asked to redesign this Montecito home's entry courtyard, the space was lacking personality. Wall-to-wall concrete, a dated pond and disjointed plants dominated the small area, causing it to appear awkward and unfinished. Aldrich contrived a plan for renovating the courtyard into a calming and intimate entry garden. Get more ideas for courtyard gardens.
Homeowner Requests Aldrich says, "The number one goal for the client was to screen the home's architecture." In other words, he wanted to mask the plain façade of the house with a show-stopping garden. She continues, "Additionally, he wanted all the concrete removed and requested that there be no lawn. He also desired that the garden feel more intimate."
- Add privacy by generating a stronger sense of enclosure
- Create a calming atmosphere
- Install lush, low-maintenance plantings
Project Challenges Every landscaping project comes with its own set of challenges, and sometimes a few surprises along the way. The main challenge Aldrich faced was making the once stark garden feel more intimate. Another challenge was getting the scale right. In a small space, achieving the proper proportional size of plants, trees and features in relation to each other and their surroundings is essential. Aldrich explains one unexpected challenge by saying, "The demolition of the concrete took much more work than expected because it was heavily reinforced with rebar."
Tips for a Calming Garden:
- Use plants with a pleasing scent
- Incorporate the sound of moving water
- Employ a limited color palette
- Use curved lines for hardscapes
- Stick with an informal planting plan
- Limit your plant palette for simplicity of color
Project Solutions In order to create a more intimate garden, the issue of privacy had to be addressed. Aldrich chose to increase the height of the existing courtyard walls. The new, higher walls were coated with a light, almost sand colored stucco and capped with rough-cut stone. Aldrich tackled the scale problem by selecting trees and plants that would add textural interest but not overwhelm the courtyard with their size or variety of colors. The three main plants used were rosemary, westringia and statice (botanical names: Rosmarinus officinalis, Westringia brevifolia and Limonium sinuatum).
Final Touches The courtyard garden's plant palette and Aldrich's material choices work together to create a relaxing Mediterranean vibe. A red bi-parting gate welcomes visitors into the courtyard, causing them to wonder what lies beyond. Then, a curved simulated stone walkway, made of textured and colored concrete, ushers them into the small entry courtyard. Finally, a fountain with a stone catch basin provides the soothing sound of water as guests walk through the courtyard and make their way to the home.
The Aldrich Company
Santa Barbara, CA
Sarah Hutchinson, contributing writer for Landscaping Network
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