In this garden design video tutorial you’ll see the design process from start to finish – lots of trade secrets given away in this one… (it was one of my first ever videos, so no laughing at the somewhat wooden intro!)

If you missed part 1 the garden survey or part 2 drawing a scale plan click on the purple links to view them

This courtyard garden design video can be viewed along with many more videos on the Successful Garden Design YouTube Channel.

Keep to the Garden Design Brief

The clients came up with lots of good ideas: raised planting borders, seating and illusion trellis focal point at the end of the garden. It was a nice change to have some of the thinking done already!

When designing anything it is important to consider the function of the area. This courtyard will mostly be used for a cool place to sit and have afternoon tea. It is two flights of stairs below the main living areas, so won’t be used much for dining.

Set Your Sights

As shown in the garden design video, it is really beneficial to work out how the garden will be viewed before you start to design it. When you know which views are the most important, you can set the garden design up to maximise these views.

Find Your Centre

The line running down the middle of the garden is the centre line – it is only really necessary to know if you are planning on creating a fairly formal scheme that needs symmetry. Because of the shape of the courtyard and in order to keep the centre line parallel to the house, there were two centre lines. A centre line from the back of the garden and the other centre line from the middle of the front of the garden.

Simplicity is Key

When you start to rough out the garden design, it helps if you keep the shapes as simple as possible. Simple shapes, to begin with, help make it easier to see how well you are using the available space and that everything is in proportion.

Precision Finishing

Before the design is finished, it is vital to check that everything lines up as it should and paths are of equal width. Double check by measuring everything you have drawn. A couple of millimetres out on the paper can be ten centimetres on the ground. You may not notice it’s not correct on paper but it will show when the garden is built.

So How Does a Garden Design Go From a Drawing Into Reality?

If you ever wanted to see how a garden is constructed, then the next video in the series will show all. But will it all go to plan? Find out in the next video…

Part 4 How to Build A Courtyard Garden

Want to know how you can transform your garden, using a simple system?

If you’d like to learn all the tricks to creating a stunning small garden – check out the Small Garden Design Formula.

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Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    12 replies to "How to Design a Courtyard Garden [part 3]"

    • Jenny Peterson

      Great video, Rachel! I’m in the process of designing several small zen courtyards that adjoin to a common center pathway. You gave me some great ideas–thanks!

    • Your autoresponder seems to be down. I tried to subscribe, failed.

      I think you have something here with garden design. I know I could have used the information a few years ago when I worked on my (ex)girlfriend’s garden.

      Let me know if you want some feedback.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Hi Jenny

      Glad the video has helped you come up with some ideas! In the next few weeks I’ll be adding photo galleries, so be sure to check back if you need extra ideas.

    • Rachel Mathews

      Hi Dave

      Thanks for letting me know about the autoresponder – seems to be a code clash somewhere so I’ve changed the form – should all work now!

      I think you are right – if people have access to the right information, they can achieve good results with their garden. Please do give me any feedback you have. I want to make this site as useful to people as possible, so the more feedback the better!



    • […] this video you will see the courtyard garden (design shown in how to design a courtyard garden video) being […]

    • […] If you are new here and want to see how it all began, watch the garden design process video. […]

    • Annie

      Great vid! Thanks for ideas and new perspective to surveying, base mapping and such. (Sorry it has taken me so long to sit down and watch!)

      Two burning questions: do tell, where did you get your amazing drafting desk and straightedge / track drafting machine? Manufacturer name will do…

      And what is the height of the desk? You look so comfy sitting at it… creating great things without a pain in the neck or back creeping up on you.

      Thanks for good and inspiring work!

      • Rachel Mathews

        Thanks Annie!

        I use a couple of drawing boards my fav is the Kuhlmann drafting table in my other office but it’s an enormous oversized A0, so doesn’t fit in my home office.

        The one shown in the videos is a Tecnostyl drafting board which is A1 size. I don’t have a set height for it. I adjust it depending on which part of the drawing I’m working on so that I keep my back aligned comfortably. They come with the drafting machine, both mine were bought at auction so I think you might need to buy them separately.

        It’s really important not to slouch over your drawing, leaning forward from the hips is how you are supposed to do it whist seated, I constantly have to remind myself not to slouch – standing up helps with that!

    • […] those of you who have been following Successful Garden Design for a while, you may remember the small courtyard garden design we did in Spain. It’s been just over 18 months since the planting was finished, so in January […]

    • Gail Klein

      The courtyard just blew me away. SEriously stunning. but I can’t seem to get the audio going from your site. My browser audio is on. Do you have any ideas? Thanks Gail

      • Rachel Mathews

        Hi Gail, thank you that is lovely to hear!

        Sorry there isn’t volume, no idea why, it’s fine on my browser – you could try watching it direct on YouTube and see if that makes a difference.

    • […] this – you’ve designed a lovely garden. Everyone is happy with it. Even the builders have followed the plan to the letter, no one has […]

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