7 Backyard Makeover Tips If You Dream Of A French Court In New Orleans
Create the allure of an old New Orleans walled garden in any backyard.
Tucked down a quiet road on a large lot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a dark and unassuming one-story home with a grand, attention-grabbing hipped roof. A stroll down the driveway and through the gate leads to an enchanting courtyard garden blooming with oversize plants and filled with delightfully crusty statuary.
It's easy to forget that you're in the suburbs and not secluded inside a French Quarter courtyard in New Orleans. That strikingly authentic sense of place comes from the history behind this 1950s home. The designs of both the courtyard and the house were some of the earliest residential projects undertaken by the Southern master architect A. Hays Town. The current owners, antiques dealers and designers Gary McDaniel and Daryl Rogers, have ramped up this courtyard's aging process—intentionally. Without changing the brick bones of Town's design, they added their own personalities, molding it into what McDaniel refers to as "the perfect place to perch." Here are 7 tips for re-creating their otherworldly backyard getaway.
A roundabout centerpiece takes center stage
Circular garden beds provide better flow in tight spaces than square ones do. The style is reminiscent of traditional French Quarter courtyards.
The backyard gate opens up to the lawn
The courtyard didn't originally access the backyard, but McDaniel and Rogers immediately recognized that the brick wall drastically shortened their space. They broke through the wall and framed the new opening with wide steps and louvered shutters. Now they've created an easy entrance to the lawn— a feature not offered by most urban courtyards.
The planters & statuaries are purposefully random
"There really isn't a formula," says McDaniel. "Actually, it should be a bit haphazard." This explains the eclectic mix of elements, including moss-covered sheep; a European carved-stone bust with aged patina; French oil jars; and the courtyard's centerpiece, a large glazed Anduze jar holding a bright purple plumbago plant.
The entertaining zone is made for conversation
In place of rickety seating, they chose functional dining furniture that's vintage in style but not in age. For cocktail hour, the duo sets out assorted votives and hurricane lanterns for ambience.
The floors & walls are disguised with greenery
Low-cost, evergreen creeping fig covers the brick walls year-round. Potted plants set directly on the brick patio offer leafy texture at ground level while a canopy of ligustrums provides a shady forest effect overhead.
The fountain provides a serene soundtrack
McDaniel and Rogers installed a water feature in the courtyard for tranquil background noise. Graceful koi fish add another natural element to the peaceful escape.
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The plants add color for punctuation
"We wanted to embrace the lushness," says McDaniel, who also incorporated sprinklings of whites, reds, and purples to create contrast with the different types of foliage. Potted tree ferns, aspidistra, ficus bonsai, and Japanese maples offer the green base layer, while purple plumbago, mature camellia, blooming agapanthus, bird of paradise, and ligularia bring in the desired pops of color