Creative Courtyards

Landscape designer Marcia Weber of Gardens to Love thoughtfully crafts courtyard gardens that yield great dividends

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles: What makes courtyard gardens so enticing?

Marcia Weber: The space in a courtyard is compacted so they’re intimate. Also, courtyards are defined spaces with walls, so there should always be something special to look at; special details for your eye to land on. Details always matter, but they’re especially important in courtyard gardens.

AH&L: What are some of your favorite special points of interest in a courtyard garden?

MW: I love to include art. From contemporary sculptures by metalsmith Corrina Sephora Mensoff, to interesting pots and garden antiques, art enhances a courtyard garden and gives it depth, dimension and interest. 

AH&L: What makes designing courtyard gardens different from other landscape projects?

MW: There are many considerations. Soil pH and composition, light and drainage are some obvious elements, but things such as leaching from mortar leaks can be overlooked. Additionally, one of the most interesting aspects of a courtyard garden is how it will be perceived and used. For example, sometimes the first thought is not how it will appear as visitors enter it, rather, how it will be viewed from an upstairs window or in early morning light.  

AH&L: What are some of your favorite plants to include in these kinds of gardens? 

MW: Native azaleas are among my favorite plants. They have a beautiful form, a marvelous scent, they don’t grow too large and they have beautiful fall color—all perfect for courtyards. Herbs are wonderful too, because one can always take a pinch and have a fresh ingredient in any dish. 

AH&L: What advice do you have for homeowners looking to make improvements to an existing courtyard? 

MW: As a garden ages, it needs to be edited. Some plants can be pruned, but others need to be replaced so that the right atmosphere can be created and the garden can thrive and grow.