Asian Landscaping: Creating a Small Japanese Theme Garden

Quite often, when thinking of a Japanese garden, we tend to think of the scenic backdrops in the movies. In reality, however, residential gardens are restricted in Japan, dependant upon the lifestyle and budget of the homeowner, as well as the topography, size and shape of their available space. Because of this, a well-planned out Japanese garden can be ideal for those who have a limited amount of space to work with. Here are some interesting tips to help you create your own, beautiful, Japanese-themed garden.


In the Japanese garden tradition, nature and art are brought together in a simplistic fashion that is designed to nurture the soul and provide a feeling of shelter and security. Japanese gardens promote peaceful feelings and stimulate the mind, while coaxing the body to relax at the same time. This makes them ideal for those who live a hectic on-the-go lifestyle, granting them a peaceful retreat where they can take some time and simply breathe and enjoy life.

The Japanese garden also can appeal to those who have a busy schedule, simply due to the fact that it does not demand perfection or constant upkeep (though you are sure to want to spend as much time there as possible). In fact, Japanese gardens are well known for trees with twisted and leaning branches, petal-covered walks, mossy paths and imperfect structures. A bridge that is missing a few planks does not appear broken or out-of-place in a Japanese garden but, instead, provides visitors with an unexpected peek at cool, refreshing water beneath them. Japanese gardens have a way of teaching us about acceptance and the enjoyment of Life’s simpler pleasures.

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Elements, My Dear Watson

There are several important elements in the creation of any Japanese gardens and these include stone, greenery and, if at all possible, some form of water. The water may be anything from a small fountain, to an elaborate and bubbling fountain – the idea is to simply have the soothing and cooling sound of the water calming the senses, and helping to bring about a peaceful atmosphere. Some of the most beautiful displays are faux streams, created with the use of a little gravel, sand, rocks and sometimes moss. Reflecting pools are also a beautiful way of bringing the beautiful element of water into your own Japanese garden.

Shade is another important element of most Japanese gardens, and plants that thrive in a shady environment should always be considered. Azaleas and rhododendrons make a beautiful addition to any Japanese garden, as do pines, maples, plums, flowering cherries and bamboo. Plants of almost any type can be used and blended into a Japanese garden for a unique experience. However remember that, ideally, you will want to create the majority of your interest from non-plant elements, such as stone curios or benches, small statues, or collections of natural rocks. Let your mind wander and expand – it’s easy and fun!

Japanese gardens may be as simple or complex as we desire them. Ideal for the closely confined area, as well as for the person with a hectic lifestyle, they promote inner peace and relaxation which, ultimately, promotes good health. The reasons for creating your own Japanese-themed garden are endless; the only question that remains is, ‘What will yours look like?