Whether you’ve got a big courtyard, or a small apartment patio, you can still create your very own urban oasis – a private, tranquil haven for entertaining, or to escape the stresses of modern life. That’s right, you no longer need the traditional quarter acre section to create some green space of your own – there are plenty of things you can do to create the illusion of space.
Practical (and pretty) privacy
Although walls can highlight the fact that a space is small, they will also enable shelter and privacy in your space. To achieve the right balance, while ensuring your green haven is anything but claustrophobic, consider using materials similar to those on the rest of your house. Trellis, slats, or something with small openings will create space, or a natural screen created with trimmed and trained hedging can give your garden oasis the right feel.
Just like inside, mirrors and outdoor wall art can add another dimension and, if you do opt for a solid wall, ensure that you soften it with some planting – espaliered trees, olives and climbers work a treat!
Keep it simple
If you’ve got a small space, you’re going to want to minimise clutter. You can do this by creating a theme for your greenery (see more about this below), but you should also consider the other things that you are using to fill the space, such as furniture.
There are so many choices of outdoor furniture available; just pop in store for a look! Consider the style that suits your setting, the shape of the table and the right number of chairs to fit the space.
Colours count too – cool blues, greys and greens can lend a restful vibe, whereas a palette of hot colours, like oranges, reds and yellows, can dominate in enclosed areas.
Do the details
Importantly, you want your garden oasis to be somewhere to spend time and appreciate, so consider the details and finishing touches. Crushed shells, sculptures, a water feature, a bright garden umbrella or modern garden art could be just the thing, or perhaps an antiquated birdbath and ceramics? Whatever style you choose, make sure it’s an expression of your personal style and your lifestyle.
Ideally you’ll want your garden oasis to feature plants that look good all year round, not just in the summer-time. Less is more when it comes to different varieties, as a theme followed through will add cohesion to containers and the garden.
Consider what will work for both the local climactic conditions and the positioning of your space.
- If your garden is north facing, opt for plants that work well in a hot and dry area, like bay trees, olives, rosemary, yucca, agaves, buxus, agaves, dracaenas, conifers, citrus, succulents or cacti – or for flowering varieties, try lavender, roses or tecomanthe and bougainvillea as climbing plants.
- A sheltered, sunny courtyard is great for creating a lush, subtropical haven. Pick a variety of different foliage forms, textures and colours, like palms, pukas, cabbage trees, bamboo, ficus, ferns, flaxes, or grasses or intersperse frangipani, hibiscus, canna lilies, gardenias, vireya rhododendrons, bromeliads or bougainvillea.
- If you’ve got a shady oasis, opt for cool, green foliage like ferns, mondo grass, hebes, buxus, ajuga, aucuba, choisya, griselina, fuchsia, gardenia, azaleas, camellias, daphne, rhododendrons, or hydrangea.
- If you need your plants in patio pots or tubs, so that you can move them around your space easily, or swap them out if they’re not looking their best, opt for citrus, yucca, cabbage trees, palms, astelia, dracaenas, radermachera, conifers, hibiscus, camellias or roses. Consider planter boxes in small spaces, as they can also double as seats if they have a wide board around the top.