Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Courtyard Design

I have zero experience landscaping cement pads behind row houses, but figured I'd give it a whirl. I used ghetto AutoCAD; hopefully it gets the point across.


I think the entire slab needs to be replaced, so while doing this why not upgrade things a bit. Right? This includes adding a decent planter bed, a place for my garbage cans, a grill, and a 6' block wall all around the space to stop the Baltimore City rats from invading my zen garden and keep the local yokels out of my view.

With the slabtacular boringness of concrete, I'm thinking about a few slate tiles or shapes cut into the concrete (shown in cyan) to help spice up the floor.


I also want to hide my A/C unit. Using all cinder blocks is a bit cold, so I'm thinking about a wood fence around the A/C unit, on the gate, and for a neato bench in front of the japanese maple. I'm hoping to use cedar, but I'm only at Phase 1 so there is plenty of time to reduce cost and scope as I head forward. I will do the woodwork myself, and par for the course, I have zero experience building these aforementioned items. I'm not sure if the plants will survive in the places I've put them, so a bit more research is required. I'm worried about the roots going through the temperature extremes of an elevated planting bed. Also, lights hanging over the courtyard would be hot, so I threw a few in.


I need some height on the left side of my boring left wall, so why not add some bamboo. Not sure how it will hold up there, but I like the concept of it. The planting benches could hold herbs, a small fountain, some bonsai trees, and serve as a lovely bar in a pinch. Some planter boxes with sweet potato vine could help brighten up the place in the summer. I would think about painting the courtyard too, but I am at a loss for what color would look good. I have a general hatred toward beige/taupe, so that is out of the question.

If I have someone just do the concrete and block work, I think I can fill in the rest of the blanks. If the quotes come in too expensive for this work, the yard will stay an ugly broken up slab. All or nothing baby!


Jennifer said...

I really like your design! I think it flows nicely, and has some great spaces for entertaining. Plus, it looks low maintenance!

the 'rents said...

Think about using colored, stamped concrete. At least it looks cool on hgtv! Maybe move the garden bench to the opposite end just so you don't have to smell the garbage while relaxing on the bench! Can't wait to see what you do with this space.

Valerie said...

Dag, I am way impressed. This would be beautiful and most useful as a party space.

Corey said...

Good call on the bench being so close to the trash! May just have to invest in new trash cans with tight fitting lids, as I'd really like to have a bench under the jap maple.

I'm thinking maybe just stamping/coloring the squares - it could get some of the effect and minimize the cost. Now I need to find out how much all this would cost!

Summer said...

I agree with the bench near the trash worry... doesn't matter how tight those lids fit... in August it will still smell.

This looks AWESOME. We just sort of worked on our patio a bit at a time... having a plan blows my mind! Would love to see this come to fruition.

Quick question... do your trash guys throw your cans over the fence? Mine do and it has kept me from developing the end of the patio the way I want to because things will get knocked over and broken. They are relentless and imprecise. Do you have to deal with that?

Summer said...

Also thought you might want to take a look at this project we did on our existing (and short) brick wall. The tiki torches totally rock.

My wall fence

Corey said...

Summer - Looks great! Hopefully mine will look as good as yours when it's done. Do you find you use yours much?

As for the trash, my trashmen leave the cans near the middle or other end of the street. I wish they'd throw them in - then I wouldn't have to chase after them. I want to find a way to sit under a jap maple in my yard, but the idea of smelling garbage doesn't appeal to me. :(

Summer said...

Thanks! We use ours all the time, and it's great for parties and impromptu gatherings. I love having dinner out there with the tikis lit. Keeps the bugs away and provides some ambiance. I want to stain the concrete darker so it's not so blinding during the day.

We had to elevate our planters to keep the rats from eating everything, and I haven't wanted to blast up the concrete to plant a tree until I'm sure those little buggers won't move in, but you could do a maple in a container... elevate it and you can easily sit "under" it! ;-)

Container gardening is a little different than regular, but not so hard... we use those silica water crystals because they do get very thirsty, but most of the perennials do actually survive the winter even in containers.

It's worth the work to add the living space! We're growing tomatoes and strawberries this year along with the herbs and flowers. I'm so excited about that.