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Turn a Courtyard Into a Garden Retreat

If you are using a courtyard to hang your washing, you are seriously missing out on using this space to create a garden retreat.






I am amazed at how many homes have a small courtyard that is solely dedicated to having a washing line or rotary washing line only for hanging laundry. Today, there are so many other solutions for hanging washing, solutions that don't take up as much space or ones that can be pulled out, used and then put away. Anyone who has a courtyard could be using this to create a wonderful garden retreat hidden away from prying eyes.











How to Create a Courtyard Retreat

First off, this article applies to anyone who has a courtyard that is not being used to its full potential other than for hanging washing. You have this amazing space that is usually just off the kitchen that could be used in so many ways that will add an extra garden area to your outdoors or totally transform this previously unused area into a relaxing retreat.



1. Clean out the area

Before you attempt to put any ideas together, clean out the area. This might include using a high-pressure sprayer to clean walls and concrete floor, or whatever floor might be in the courtyard, as well as fixing up any problems such as damp. If you plan to turn this into a courtyard retreat, you want the end result to be worth the effort. Fix any cracks in the walls, patch up any loose plaster and apply a damp proofing or brick sealer to remedy any faulty areas.



With the area cleaned out it will be far easier to assess the space, decide what you would like to do with it and put a plan of action in place. You should do this as it allows you to determine how much you have to spend on the transformation and also how you can do it over a period of time if you need to spread the cost over a few months. This is how I prefer to do all my projects, to see how much I have to spend and determine how much I can afford each month to finish off a project. Even if it takes a couple of months, or even a year, it will be well worth it when you get to sit and relax and your new courtyard retreat.







The size of the courtyard will determine how you can best use the space for creating a secluded retreat.



2. Start with the foundation

The walls and floor should be the first thing on the last as these form the basic foundation on which to add anything else to the space. After fixing up walls and floor, you can then look at what you want to do. For example, you might want to add a vertical garden to one wall or perhaps even put up a trellis on which to grow a flowering climber or creeper. This is the time to visualise what you want in the space and how best to achieve it.



Painting the walls will no doubt be a necessary step and using an exterior paint in white or your chosen colour will instantly make a difference in how the space looks. You may also want to consider decorating the floor with a painted stencil design, or even fit a composite decking solution over the top of the concrete. If the budget allows, you could also look at putting down tiles to really dress up the courtyard.



In a small garden that is overlooked by neighbours, a secluded courtyard lets you have a private retreat in which to kick off your shoes and relax after a hard day at work.



3. Plants and accessories

If you are adding plants or shrubs into the courtyard retreat, assess how sunlight moves through the area at different times of the day. That way, you will be able to discuss your requirements with the staff at your local garden centre and they will be able to offer the best advice on suitable plantings.


A way of saving money on planters, flower beds, and even seating, is to do it yourself with concrete or brick. Buying brick and concrete mix works out far more affordable than buying large planters and it also provides far less maintenance. To maximise the space, you can even look at using the walls for mounted planters or a vertical garden. Using the vertical areas for plants will leave more room at floor level for furniture. And any plants mounted on the walls will provide a softening effect on the wall themselves and create more of a sanctuary atmosphere.





Adding a water feature to a courtyard garden brings the soothing effect of water into the space.



Save money on establishing your courtyard retreat by doing as much DIY in the space as you can, such as casting concrete forms for furniture.






4. Water feature

A courtyard located outside the kitchen door usually has an outdoor tap, or perhaps there is a tap close to the courtyard that could be used to set up a water feature. It doesn't have to be large, and it doesn't have to be expensive if you do it yourself, but any size of water feature brings the calming sound of water into the area and relaxes mind and body.





5. Furniture and accessories

The last item on the list is to add the furniture and accessories you need to complete your courtyard retreat. You will have already decided how best to use this area and the furniture will either be for seating or dining or even a combination of both. What you should try and do is to keep the style of the furniture and accessories as close as possible to that inside the home so that this becomes an extension of your living spaces. In this way, you will add value to your home as well.





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