Spanish Courtyard Design Ideas


A home open to the landscape with waterfront views is an ideal site to create a Spanish courtyard. Even if you are not fortunate enough to live on the water, incorporating strategic design elements brings Mediterranean beauty to your outdoor space. Earthy materials, shade, running water and fruit trees nestled inside high walls sets the stage for the Spanish courtyard of your dreams. Fabrics in sea-blown colors and natural materials complete the look.


  • Simple, earthy construction materials suffuse Spanish courtyard design. High stucco walls under a clay-tile roof or window awning mimic authentic Spanish courtyards. Wrought-iron fencing, gates, plant hangers and furniture are used in Mediterranean design. Choose large terracotta urns, planters and other accent pieces. Spanish courtyards are founded on four basic colors: blue, red, white and yellow. Purchase handmade clay tiles with strong, geometric designs to construct the flooring, line the walls and decorate a central fountain to bring Spanish flair to your outdoor room. Doors, windows and furniture crafted from weathered wood will add to the atmosphere. Optimal choices for flooring a Spanish courtyard are cobblestone and gravel.

Structural Elements

  • In original Spanish courtyards, rejas – intricate, wrought-iron grills – were built to keep intruders out and add textural beauty to the home. High stucco or adobe walls create a secret hiding place where homeowners can lounge and enjoy a private moment. Pergolas placed over seating areas lend shade to the landscape, especially when covered in vines with bright flowers such as bougainvillea. An adobe fireplace, chiminea – freestanding, front-loading fireplace -- or just a clay firepit create key, natural elements to Spanish design. Shady, arched and columned arcades along the home’s exteriors walls make the perfect backdrop for a Spanish courtyard.

Water Features

  • Many areas of Spain are desert-like. Originally, a Spanish home’s only water source may have been the city water it received in the courtyard fountain. The sound of running water and the humidity it adds to the courtyard is a desirable element for your Spanish courtyard design. A wall fountain with a spouting lion’s head or fish fills a basin mounted beneath it that spills into a surrounding trough that feeds into a narrow channel and runs the length of your outdoor room. Central fountains trimmed in ornate tiles and recessed, shell niches with small fountains add a cooling element to your courtyard. Install a large urn fitted with a fountain pump and placed on a river rock basin to allow water from the urn to spill over its sides and splash down on the rock base.

Horticultural Interest

  • Palm trees, small citrus trees, brightly-hued geraniums and olive trees characterize a Spanish courtyard. An abundance of colorful blooms planted in earthen, terracotta pots line the edges and separate small rooms within your outdoor room. Instead of stucco walls, plant a screen of cypress or bamboo to wall off a dining area or surround your private retreat.

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