Landscaping Courtyard Ideas
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Landscaping Courtyard Ideas

Pea Gravel

Pea gravel–a small, fluid stone found near bodies of water–has an appealingly smooth texture, the result of natural weathering. Pea gravel comes in sizes from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch, about the size of a pea, and in a range of natural colors like buff, rust brown, shades of gray, white, and translucent. If you’re trying to decide between decomposed granite and pea gravel, see Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.

Ribbon Driveways

Our East Coast correspondent Jeanne Rostaing grew up with a ribbon driveway–two strips of concrete with grass in between–in Memphis: “Ribbon driveways were a natural progression from the ruts carved in the ground by the wheels of wagons and, later, automobiles, ” she writes. “It makes sense that if you’re driving your vehicle from the street to the garage every day, you’d want to avoid wearing deep, muddy grooves into your lawn. The simplest and most economical way to do that: paving the areas where the wheels go and leaving the grass in the middle.”

Nowadays ribbon driveways are back in fashion not only because of their eco-friendly permeability, but also because they’re visually pleasing. For more about designing and installing a ribbon driveway, see Hardscaping 101: Ribbon Driveways.

Rainwater Capture

Above: Philadelphia-based Shift Design makes stylish rainwater collectors, including a Fitzwater Raintank (R). For more information, see Minimalist Garden Products with a Mission.

Rainwater Hog

Above: The Rainwater Hog designed by Australian architect Sally Dominguez is a plastic 53-gallon tank that can store water vertically or horizontally, against the side of the house or beneath a deck, depending on where you have the space to store it.

Irrigation Systems

Above: Drip (trickle, micro, or localized) irrigation benefits plants and crops by delivering water straight to their roots on a slow drip, thereby saving water and fertilizer, says Christine, who wrote our guide to everything you need to know about Hardscaping 101: Drip Irrigation.

Artificial Grass

Traditional turf is lovely to look at, but it’s a water hog. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite alternatives, from green ground covers to wildflower meadows to sow in the front yard.

Above: Artificial grass by DuPont ForeverLawn. For more of this garden, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley, CA. Photograph by Liese Johannssen for Gardenista.

Artificial grass has come a long way since Astro Turf, and it requires no water, weeding, mowing, or fertilizing. Is it an environmentally friendly option for you? For the pros and cons, see Hardscaping 101: Artificial Grass.

Wildflower Meadow

For tips on sowing wildflowers in the garden, see our growing guides for Queen Anne’s Lace, Cosmos, Foxglove, and Nasturtiums. Browse our Field Guide archives for growing tips for flowers, vegetables, and herbs,

Ground Cover Lawn Substitute

Janet has investigated alternatives to water-guzzling turf. For more, see Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes, including Sheet Moss for shady spots; .99 for 5 square feet from TN Nursery.

Birds and Bees

Create a garden where pollinators are welcome to help combat the rapid depletion of habitats. You can sow wildflowers, plant a pollinator garden, add native plant, or put a green roof on your house to give nature more of a chance.

Above: In Brooklyn garden designer Julie Farris planted a rooftop meadow of hardy perennials (inspired by garden designer Piet Oudolf’s plant combinations for New York City’s High Line Park). For more of her rooftop garden, see Garden Visit: A Rooftop Meadow in Brooklyn.

Native Plants

Above: On the rooftop of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is a perennial garden planted strictly with natives that feels “almost like a wilderness, like a resting spot found during a hike on California’s coast, ” says our contributor Cynthia Salaysay. For more of this garden, see Garden Visit: Academy of Sciences’ Living Rooftop.

Wildflower Seed Bombs

Above: When native species of plants flourish, so do birds, bees, and wildlife. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, 22 acres of open grazing land were transformed into a meadow native plants. For more of this project, see Landscape Architect Visit: Nelson Byrd Woltz and a Wild Virginia Meadow.

Heirloom Seeds

Connect your garden to gardeners who have come before you by planting heirloom seeds that have been passed on for generations for their delicious flavor, scent or hardiness. Unlike hybrids, heirlooms will reproduce exactly like their parents.