Indigenous Nursery News Blog

Landscape a small garden or courtyard with indigenous plants

A cosy courtyard or tiny outside space can be a challenge to landscape. It needs to be beautiful and inviting, whilst keeping things simple and uncluttered. With some good garden landscaping ideas, these areas can look amazing.

Take a look at what we did with our indigenous plants to create a design idea for a courtyard garden. We have kept the number of plant species down (only 15 out of over 800 to choose from!). Less variety whilst concentrating on texture and colour is important. See the list of indigenous plants that we used at the end of this article. We have a distinct warm sunny and cooler shady side of the courtyard garden.

This made the decision of what to use easier, as it had to fit these requirements. We concentrated the thirsty plants around the water feature, and plants that could tolerate less water were placed in the pots.

We re-painted some outdoor plant pots a bright red. This hot colour makes the small space more intimate and exciting. It also contrasts beautifully with the foliage colours and with the browns in the paving, sleepers and other ceramic plant pots.

We carried this red through into the planting by adding red glass beads amongst the pebbles around the plants. The beauty of painting plant pots is that you can change the colour and add interest as you want to.

A tall water feature in the corner adds a vertical element to the garden. Introducing both motion and sound through water adds to the enjoyment of a small space with all the senses. We also chose the creeper Asparagus falcatus for our shady side, to introduce height to the garden. It will trail over the walls of the courtyard on this side.

A tall, sculptural Gardenia thunbergia balances the height of the water feature in the opposite corner. We echoed the sleepers in part of the bedding edges, and then added slate to vary the texture. The table and chairs used are small and easy to pack away if more space is required in the courtyard.

List of plants used:


  • Aloe breviflora (Short-leaved Aloe)
  • Aloe chabaudii (Dwala Aloe)
  • Aloe marlothii (Mountain Aloe) (Suggest replacing with A. wickensii - Wickens Aloe)
  • Asparagus falcatus (Sickle Thorn / Large Forest Asparagus)
  • Crassula sp.
  • Crassula spathulata
  • Cyperus alternifolius (Umbrella papyrus)
  • Cyperus papyrus (Paper Papyrus)
  • Dymondia margaretae
  • Thamnocortus insignis
  • Euphorbia sp.
  • Gardenia thunbergia (White Gardenia / Forest Gardenia)
  • Gasteria sp Hybrid Crassula "Gollum''
  • Juncus effusus (Soft Rush or Common Rush)
  • Ornithogalum juncifolium



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