A garden design, of course, revolves around the different elements that you bring together in it. In a Japanese garden, however, there is also a lot of symbolism and philosophy behind it. Designing a real Japanese garden is an art that landscapers have often studied for years.
Fortunately, there are also a few basic guidelines that allow you to easily create a lookalike garden that bathes in the Japanese atmosphere. Ready to go all zen?
Japanese gardens are very popular and we totally understand why. They radiate a blissful calm and give you the chance to escape the hectic life. If you would like to build your own Japanese garden, know that this garden style requires a certain dedication if you really want a successful result.
For example, a typical tight Flemish football lawn is difficult to integrate if you are aiming for an Oriental atmosphere. However, you can choose to work in different zones, if your garden is rooted enough, and dedicate one zone entirely to the Japanese vibe.
Following the exact rules is not necessarily necessary, but try to use the following Japanese principles as much as possible as inspiration for a coherent result. The three most important elements are water, plants, and stone and they symbolize life, nature, and tranquility. It is important to keep these in balance all the time.
The typical Japanese hiking trails are laid with stepping stones. They can be angular or rounded, as long as they have a “raw” irregular surface. You can choose to put them slightly raised above the ground. Make sure they are positioned so that you can walk about them comfortably.
Don’t put them on the same page either, but make a winding path. You can also let your stepping stones walk through the water instead of a bridge. The gaps can be filled with gravel or moss. They have no practical use but work as visual benchmarks.
You can integrate water in different ways: a pond, a stream run, or a waterfall. If you don’t have enough space for that, a terrace pond can be the solution. Read more about terrace ponds here. If you have a stream, it should always flow from east to west. Also, create a natural look. If you want your water to travel a certain way, use stones or sandboxes to adjust the direction. An accompanying bridge completes it.
Karesansui (dry gravel garden)
A karesansui, also called a zen garden, is a demarcated spot covered with sand or gravel. Often mica (pieces of mineral) is mixed through, which creates a playful brilliance when the sunlight shines on it. In the gravel, there are small “islands” of some large stones or moschops. A zen garden has a meditative function, raking the gravel in wavy patterns would be soothing.
In Western garden design, symmetry is often used to achieve a balanced whole. Although there are no straight lines used in a Japanese garden, organic forms, there is balance. The lines that do are broken with shrubs or trees. These out-of-the-way elements are carefully placed against each other, often in a triangular shape.
Odd numbers are also used for the rest of the facility. Also, provide sufficient variety and variety. Also do not place all the planting along the sides but spread throughout the garden.
Try to incorporate as many surprise elements as possible into your garden. If you make sure that your garden can not be overlooked once, then walking is always a kind of discovery tour. By putting a higher bush or an interesting plant in the bends of the footpaths, you break the view.
This allows you to create small zones and hidden places where you can place decorative elements. Do this with a certain subtlety, it is important that the garden radiates peace.
One of those accessories that should not be missing is a Japanese lantern or pagoda. They come in all shapes and sizes, so the choice is enough. Please note that officially no more than one lantern may be visible at a time. So choose the placement carefully and do not exaggerate. To give the impression that the lantern has been there for years you can make it grow with moss.
If your garden is not at a glance, a small garden can also make a big impression. The trick is to work in different layers to create depth. You can work with level differences, for example, a small hill with a few special plants. Also, alternating shrubs and trees that are dense versus species with an open growth shape that you can see through gives a layered effect.
In a Japanese garden, you will find much less flowering flowers or traditional brightly colored bulbs. More use is made on subtle color nuances by combining different plant species. The different shapes and colors of the foliage bring the garden to life as well but in a more soothing way.
What you can’t escape is the climate. Some species will thrive less well here than in the Far East, but then you can use alternatives. For example, if the moss does not want to grow into a beautiful green carpet, you can replace it with a low evergreen ground cover to achieve the same visual effect.
Trees & shrubs
Typical of Japanese gardens are the small shrubs and trees. You can choose to plant only small species or make sure you prune regularly. That way you can get a bonsai look with a little patience, especially conifers lend themselves to this. These are classic in a Japanese garden:
• Trees: Japanese maple, conifers, Japanese ornamental cherry (Prunus)
• Flowering plants: tree peony, hydrangea, Japanese blue rain, rhododendron, azalea
• Green plants: Aucuba japonica, bamboo, ornamental grasses (black Ophiopogon ‘Nigrum’, Carex morrowii)
Terrace & garden fence
The use of (hard) wood always fits the Oriental atmosphere, natural or painted. If you want a real showstopper, place a wooden deck with an overhang so that you give the impression that the wood “floats” above a field of gravel or the pond. If you want a little less maintenance, you can also opt for a tile, natural stone or concrete, with a natural look.
As a partition, high or low, you can use stone baskets filled with ‘beach pebbles’: completely ‘on trend’ and yet with the right look. If you have room for it, a simple tea house at the back of the garden is the icing on the cake.
Japanese gardens usually have hardly any furniture. A simple bench by the water is possible, but for the rest, they prefer to walk through the garden. On the other hand, we enjoy eating outside and having a nice dinner and chatting. Fortunately, there is such a wide range of garden furniture that there are many models that blend beautifully in a Japanese garden.
A robust wooden table, a bamboo sofa. Those who like to go ‘out of the box’ can opt for a low table and low chairs for an Oriental experience.
If you don’t have a place or a place or a little pond, you can also introduce water to your garden in other ways. A kakehi for example is a bamboo pipe through which a small amount of water flows that flow into a stone basin (tsukubai). The sound of the rippling water is very soothing. You can also opt for a more modern water ornament, as long as it doesn’t cause too much style breakage. Please note that you are not mistaken with a bamboo blower (hishiodoshi).
It is slowly filled with water until the bamboo stick tilts and hits a stone. Originally, these bamboo blowers were designed to scare away beasts with their sound. So be warned, the sound may eventually begin to irritate, especially in a small garden.