Revamping Your Urban Courtyard

Turn that cold concrete courtyard into a green space with these simple tips and tricks

Posted by Harriette Halepis | Oct 15, 2009
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Are you stuck in the middle of urban chaos? By creating a divine green space, you can take refuge from the world outside. You'll also find that perking up the lot outside of your home will help boost your spirits all year long. Whether you choose a vegetable garden or a Zen garden, a bountiful green courtyard is the perfect cure for the urban blues.

Your Signature Space Style

Now that you know it's possible to turn a concrete space into a green wonderland, you'll have to decide upon your personal courtyard style. Thankfully, there are tons of different landscape design styles to choose from. Begin by thinking about the kinds of things that you'd like to see and grow. Are you looking for some fresh summer vegetables? Maybe you simply want to see some shrubs and flowers every morning. No matter what you heart desires; your signature space style dreams can come true.

  • Clean it Up: First spend a couple days hauling off refuse and yard waste that may have accumulated in your courtyard. Start with a clean slate.
  • Build a Deck or Patio: Most urban courtyards have gravel or asphalt ground surfaces. You can create a distinctive space by building a deck or flagstone patio. Don't want to spend on materials? Reclaimed bricks and stones make for great patio spaces. If a deck is out of your league and a reclaimed flagstone patio is out of your skill level, opt for a Zen rock garden patio. Build a wood frame and fill it with pebbles.
  • Add outdoor living elements. Some used or new outdoor furniture and a fire pit will make you feel right at home.

A Garden Retreat

There's nothing quite like a garden to evoke feelings of well-being. No matter what size space you are dealing with, a garden retreat is within your reach. There are a couple of ways to create this type of backyard bliss:

  • Use the Walls: Most likely, your courtyard is surrounded by walls. Use them to your advantage! Grow vines on them or use them as vertical garden space.
  • Containers: collect a bunch of colorful containers (flea markets are great for funky containers!), add some soil, pick a few pretty plants, and viola! You'll have an instant garden
  • Raised Boxes: you can purchase garden boxes in nearly any gardening store, or you can build your own raised box. Just add soil, a couple of plants, water when necessary, and watch your garden grow .

If you are stuck with a slab of concrete for a courtyard, then you'll have to go with a container or a raised box. If you're renting, you may have to use moveable garden elements. If you are fortunate enough to have some type of soil, then you will have a few more options to select from.

Lush Landscape

By scouring neighborhood construction sites, you can find lots of great garden elements. Large boulders, bits of broken rock, and other structural items can usually be gained for free from construction sites. Once you have acquired these materials, you can create a garden walkway or an Zen-type garden space.

If you're strapped for cash, look for bargain items on barter websites. Often, homeowners will give away various materials (such as brick, stone, and other items) that are no longer needed. In addition, these sites are great for purchasing or bartering for a couple of healthy plants.

Balcony Beautiful

For many urban dwellers, a balcony is the equivalent of a backyard space. Balconies can be beautiful too with the help of vegetable boxes, hanging plants, and lots of great pots. Add a small table and two chairs to the center of any balcony, and you'll have a secret space that's all yours.

No matter what kind of urban space you have, a garden or lush green space is never far away. Enjoying nature is possible no matter where you are - even if you live smack in the middle of a bustling city.

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