COURTYARDS and PATIOS

                     Courtyards are the Living Rooms of Exterior Space 
 
Our primordial sense of agoraphobia encourages us to seek out contained space.
Where better than to find a seat, with our backs to the wall? 
 
It is this containment of walls, edges and vegetative screens that provide the stage for what lays within.
Stone walled sunken courtyard
                               Sunken Courtyard off of a Residential Street
 
We all too often, loose sight of the design opportunities present, in front entry space.
 
Creatively, expand the experience, widen that path into a multi-purpose Place, rather than just an expedient path, to get from car to front-door.
 
Front-yards can be more than just a breezeway or manicured front-'yawn'.
                Before                                                             After                              
Stone walled sunken courtyard

Opening up a Breezeway into a Luscious Courtyard.

As you can see, a little heavy lifting was required to first remove a fair amount of soils, biomass and some masonry.

Thereafter, the stonemasons, as extensions of my hands and Intent, sculpted into the existing berm,

a series of serpentine wall elements.

Irrigation, accent lighting and the structural plant material was then installed.

And, it was the TLC & husbandry of the client that blew further life into this composition, through their love of wild flowers and herbaceous plants. 

What's not to love in a composition sculpted from stone, plants and water?  
Careful attention to balance in the choreography of these elements is essential.
Herbaceous plantings within stone walled sunken courtyard
Rather than 'plow-on' towards the front-door, stop and take a load-off -
Margarita anyone...?
water feature and hidden spring
What is a courtyard without a Water Feature?
 
These pencil thin streams of water disappear down into the river stones:
a Hidden Spring. 
Note how all of these divergent hard & soft-scape materials come together -
its all in the details....
hilltop cloistered entry courtyard
Hand-hewed stone wall, hand-poured pavers, vine-draped water feature, deciduous shade tree, seating banco, bronze-sculpture-on-bench, & a custom metal gateway
inviting you in.
Scenic view patio of stone, conrete, cedar and a lot of blue'd view
Hilltop Courtyard - Cloistered Entry
 
Note how the stone dressing of this concrete patio/walkway and how it transitions into a cedar deck,see Decks for more.
As discussed in other sections, once the perimeter of a courtyard, patio or any hardscape surface is established, one can choose from a variety of paving materials.  Oftentimes, budget holds sway over such choices (cash rules). Here, in this fussy photo, is a patio that morphs into a cedar deck.  When the client saw the price-tag for an all stone surface, it was necessary to scale back.  In place of all stone we used exposed aggregate concrete, poured within a pattern of stone corners and cedar expansion joints.
 
It is a cost effective and aesthetically pleasing alternative.  Simply lay stone between and around all of the perimeter's corners.  Then, lay an ornamental (and functional) pattern of expansion joints from those corners (in this case cedar). Thereafter, utilize the edges of those stone pools as your form for the concrete pour.  This provides a very congruent finished product, superior to blocking-out the stone areas prior to the pour. 
Site Plan delineating stone/concrete Patio with stepped transition to Decking

Axonometric  Drawing of a sunken Courtyard as it relates to Entry sequence

Plan view - Sunken Courtyard  & Solarium off Front Entry
Fortner scan PDFdark2.jpg
Master Plan - Residential Park
Master site plan - choreography of courtyards, patios and paths
Master Plan - Desert Spa
Design development, as a choreography of connected places, allows for the opportunity to provide multi-faceted experiences, whether at rest or moving though time and space.
DeBoer Eighth Scale Landscape Plan.png
Master Plan - Hillside Retainment
Kirkley Res. Elevations & Perspectives.p
Backyard Urban Gardening - Perspective/Elevations
Kirkley Res. Revised Plan.png
    Master Plan - Backyard Urban Gardening