Bent Oaks Formal Garden
Pea gravel divided with brick edging to set apart different sections; potted plant in lieu of fountain.
Notice fountain section on hardscape with carved stone "pool." Shape is too fussy, fountain is too high, but the idea of the fountain with a low pool may appeal to you.
Seating at the back areas of your yard would be ideal just for interest - not wooden or rectilinear seating like this, but just notice the general idea of seating against what could be a "living wall" in your situation.
Love the idea of the "formal limestone fountain," although only the bottom portion of this design would suit your property - the tall center element is all wrong for you.
Only notice the linear walk that opens into a circular focal point. This would definitely suit your project, but in the center could be a fountain element for the ambience and noise-we could include very subtle lighting. The material is not correct for you, and ignore the surroundings. This is just for the form of the central element.
This one has a decent amount of hardscape (I still don't think as much as you want, but notice the different defined areas for different purposes).
Notice the stone wall with water element below - this is akin to what you liked at La Mansion del Rio, but on a smaller scale. Of course the stone doesn't fit south MS, but it could be done with other masonry material and a more formal limestone wall-mounted fountain element.
This is an image that fits largely your preferences having to do with the wall elements. If the area of hardscape were increased, this might be exactly the right direction for you.
Love the idea of something like this in your backyard where you could do a wine tasting or a formal dinner for 8 or so of your friends (have it catered.....and have the structure climatized. How fun.
Decent amount of hardscaping - brick almost works, stone between does not, fountain is a reasonable size/solution but not the interior tiled part of it.
Large amount of hardscaping but I still think not as much as you'd like.
Similar to your wall-mounted fountain and detailing we discussed.
If you wanted to do some fill and/or excavating, we could do a stepped area.
I do not like the juxtaposition of these two different types of paving materials, but you can set apart different "activity" areas by altering elevation even slightly.
Old-world fountain lower portion stylistically works for your property.
We did not talk about whether or not you would be interested in an exterior fireplace but it is an option you may want to consider.
The layered planting beds with as wall that could serve as seating for an outdoor party is a neat idea (this low wall is not wide enough). Large amount of hardscaping, small amount of planting (as is your preference).
You may consider doing one or more areas of a special hardscaping material; this is likely honed or tumbled marble (so it wouldn't be too slippery). I do not like it with this brick (similar to Old Chicago) - they don't work well together and fight texture-wise.
A central water element can be simply raised stone without the planting border to minimize maintenance, and flanked with potted trees for a formal look.
Michael had a similar water element in our office courtyard but a bit wider - a nice, formal way to add a water feature that leads to a destination or focal point (maybe your fountain wall, for example).
Notice combination of flagged slate and brick, raised focal element (urn fountain) and low-maintenance Italian Cypress (vertical columnar shrub/tree at right).
Note floor pattern inset - can do something like this to highlight around a water element or seating area, etc.
This is a drive/entrance, but I show it to you so you can see a large expanse of hardscape with very little planting so you can get a feel for how a nearly all-hardscape garden would appear.
I show you this for two reasons - to see if you like shaped topiaries and to say you cannot use a marble like this or many tiles for exterior applications because they are too slick - the coefficient of friction is too low.
I show you this because of the pea gravel walkway material selected. This may be too casual for you but it is very good budget-wise. Also note the stone edging then bordered by shaped shrubbery - possibly pittosporum?
You can consider an old world feel if you used large flagging with moss planted between - there is almost no maintenance with this, but it adds greenery and feels like the grounds at an old villa.
Uniform pots create order and can be planted with climbing vines to address adjacent walls.
I have seen these bubbler pots installed many different ways - the sound is nice and the look is clean.
I think you are preferring limestone hardscaping but I show you this brick because you could match your porch brick to create this look.
This style fountain suits your house well.
Large area of hardscaping with small inset water feature - very classic.
Just to show you other paving options different types of brick in a pattern. The infill in this design could just as easily be the limestone Versailles pattern that you have been liking, and we could specify the same brick as your porch to tie the two together.
I show you this so that you can again get a feel for an "all-hardscape" courtyard.
Interesting paving pattern combination that delineates specific areas and includes locations for trees - the inclusion of specimen trees may be a great option for you.
Versailles patterned paving that you like with planting primarily along borders.
This shows a wall fountain and stone accent elements in lieu of potted trees.
Pea gravel, classically designed fountain, and planted walls - just to get your reaction.
Pea gravel, wall element, low maintenance plantings.
Looking at a large expanse of hardscaping - you do not want the courtyard to feel so bare (again, this is a drive approach and drop-off).
An interesting idea to pass OVER your water element - the layered planting beds as you approach the wall would add interest without adding maintenance.
Large expanse of Versailles patterned hardscaping - likely gauged slate.
Largely single-level, paved courtyard with low seating walls used to delineate different functional areas - adds an air of coziness for specific seating or visiting spaces.
These piers (taller, of course) would be perfect for a style that would compliment the house - consider stone piers (to match a stone fountain) with maybe brick or different stone for the infill. Creates an ordered pattern for your vertical enclosing elements.
This is just to look at various wall-mounted fountain ideas.
We have not discussed this, but because of the size of your yard, you will be able to have different "activity" areas, and one could feature seating and a Liar's Pit.
This gives you an idea of what a combination of brick and large-scale Versailles patterned slate would look like (just outside columns that are very similar to yours) - I think this design would work better if the infill material were more monochromatic - the mixture of colors fights with the pattern of the red brick.
This is the Versailles pattern that has been installed with sand in lieu of mortar and with wider joints that make the pattern more prominent. You will have week growth in the joints but the look is less stark than some of the other installations.
We have not discussed but it is possible you would want a pergola to mark a particular "activity" space within the courtyard.
A fun idea for the kids! Right in your paving pattern. Your very own Splashpad!
I show you this for the repetitive potted trees - low maintenance with formal order.
As discussed for a previous image, you may consider doing one or more areas of a special hardscaping material (around a fountain for example). This type of river-stone-installed-on-end is called Krokalia and is a fantastic conversation element - people generally love an area done like this because it's so different. Krokalia has Greek origin and has been around for centuries.