How about a relaxing Zen oasis from the comfort of your own home? Creating a Japanese garden will surely help you with this!
How do I create a Japanese garden? Instead of a specific internal scheme, you need a quiet place to relax and meditate. In the past, Japanese gardens were private corners of the ruling elite, where they spent time to forget war and strife. Nowadays, Japanese small space garden designs are a popular trend that will help you take their ingrained culture with you wherever you go.
We could all agree on one thing: There are many benefits to owning a Japanese garden! This can be valuable during stressful times as a place to relax or inspire you. We bet it could be your favorite place after work!
Image source: Janet Paik
The biggest advantage of Japanese gardens is that they really take up little space. An oriental look can also be applied to prefabricated gardens or spacious courtyards, provided you have the will and the accessories. Again – a Japanese garden doesn’t require you to occupy the entire courtyard, but rather a comfortable corner that doesn’t work in any way.
Let’s go over some tips for creating a small Japanese garden:
Study the idea carefully
Image source: Helen Williams Garden Design
The secret of a good Japanese garden is to make it real: According to the curator of Pond Garden (Brooklyn) and Japanese Hill, this is a challenge that only 100 to 200 people in the world have properly handled. To follow their example and be inspired, one has to learn and understand the basics.
There are only a few types of Japanese gardens. The first one to consider is the “rock garden” type, which really contains stones and sand. The ideal location is in a garden with a beautiful landscape.
Sand gardens are supposed to evoke a “mountain feeling” where rocks stand for mountains, while sand and gravel patterns symbolize rivers. You can organize elements freely or look for a set pattern to follow. However, tradition teaches you to use an odd number of stones.
Image source: Tim Davies Landscaping
Another interesting type of Zen garden is the so-called moss garden. You may think this is not a suitable solution for your weather conditions, but even when the weather in Japan is rainy and humid, moss can thrive wherever you want. This is why moss gardens are popular everywhere and create a balanced feeling of peace and comfort for thousands of people.
As mentioned earlier, these gardens must resemble Japanese culture, which imposes an obligation to keep them calm and simple. Hence, zen should be the ultimate purpose of any decision you make.
The three basic principles of Japanese gardens
Image source: CP landscapes
Since their inception, Japanese gardens have strived for tranquility and relaxation and therefore only use materials that come from nature (stone, sand, water, plants, etc.). Just a little bit of knowledge could lead you to a perfect Zen sanctuary that resembles nature in a miniaturized version. Every Japanese garden has three basic principles: scaled down, symbolization, and borrowed landscapes.
- The first principle means that you should recreate natural views (rivers, mountains) and combine them in specific and realistic ways. It means you can have your own mountain village in the middle of the city, surrounded by rivers and rocky hills.
- The second principle relates to the use of certain objects to represent something different (e.g. white sand as the sea).
- Borrowing landscapes means that you need to take inspiration from an outside landscape (a mountain, an ocean) and use various accessories to recreate that scenic composition. In this aspect, you can choose the view that inspires you the most.
Do not exaggerate
Image source: Gaile Guevara
Japanese use the word “Shibusa” to refer to their gardens. The literal meaning of the word is “refined, elegant and restrained”. This should be your first clue to keep things simple.
Simplicity mostly relates to materials: for example, a bamboo fence can delimit your Zen zone and fit in perfectly without looking too aggressive or unnatural. In addition, bamboo is a renewable source that contributes to the idea of ”representing nature” and fits seamlessly into your ideal garden scenario.
Give your Zen haven a modest structural backbone. Symmetry and sharp lines should be avoided and replaced with something that is less cluttered.
Image source: Outhouse design
Also, think of some unassuming stone paths or specific statues that speak of the character of your Zen corner. Every element you use plays the role of a peaceful tactic (stone paths, for example, were similar to looking forward to the future and respecting the past). Isn’t that a wonderful way to live your life?
When it comes to plants, choose wisely. You shouldn’t bring thousands of them with you, but a humble variety that will keep the garden simple. Mossy and creeping plants look “really Japanese” and are easy to care for at the same time. Even if you are tempted to bring a whole herbal kingdom into it, you will soon be convinced that simplicity is the way to go.
After all, any idea that reminds you of the great outdoors is a good idea – dry gravel roads can be your peaceful rivers. and well-positioned boulders can be the mountains around it. Those who really want to master this skill can opt for a larger garden divided into smaller “rooms” with different purposes (meals, relaxation, meditation, etc.).
Choosing the right plants
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We suspect that you already have some ideas, for example that cacti are not the perfect choice. A Japanese garden should be adorned with Asiatic natives, ideally a few native specimens. We recommend bamboo, Japanese maple, cherry, camellia, gingko, pine, wisteria, azalea, iris, etc.
A final touch
Image source: Bio-friendly gardens
A Japanese garden would not be complete without the appropriate ornaments.
The rule is to use stone lantern: you can go for bird baths, sculptures or beautiful pools, or you can go for anything that reminds you of Japanese features. For example, a Japanese toro was placed at the entrance of Japanese temples to initially illuminate them.
Water games are also very welcome. For example, Japanese gardens are known for their koi carp ponds, waterfalls, cascades, and creeks with arched bridges. They also use patio paths and stepping stones to navigate their water features. If your space isn’t suitable for wide water decorations, use a simple stone basin and tiny bamboo spout to fill it with water.
Image source: FOTOGRAFIA INC.
Bridges are another recognizable symbol. They will help you move around the garden and connect land from either side of the water features. Depending on your needs, you can build them out of wood, stone or metal.
Plan it with patience
Image source: MARPA DESIGN STUDIO
Patience is important in planning a proper Japanese garden. As with anything else, Japanese gardens can take years to perfect. Random elements and solutions can be devastating to the garden, turning the entire space into an unbalanced mess.
The reason you need to be so careful is that you are trying to replicate wild natural landscapes. Only those who are really committed and experienced can do something like this.