When deciding on designing your Japanese garden there are a few basic things to consider.
Firstly, I would recommend photographing your space and making a drawing of it on a large piece of paper, note the space measurements, land elevations, tree cover etc and then simply start to allocate certain areas on the paper to the Japanese garden ingredients that you wish to include in your garden. Be prepared to move things around on your garden drawing until you get a feel for what you are happy with. As long as you have remembered the basics you should find this fairly easy.
The good news is that average sized yards or gardens are ideal for a Japanese garden. If you have a smaller area a ‘Zen’ garden may be more in keeping with the aesthetics of your space. These gardens were designed and used by Buddhist monks and in general comprise of boulders and rocks and gravel/ or sand. A rake is used to mark the sand for a water effect. Zen gardens are supposed to be places of tranquillity and help ‘clear’ the mind. Meditation is common and effective in a Zen garden which should be viewed from one place.
For Japanese gardens you have numerous choices with many historical and design facets and many of these are easy to grasp and simple to execute but you must acquire knowledge first! Study photographs and designs online and see what catches your eye and use your imagination as to what can go where in your garden space.
Japanese style gardens are unique, very ordered and havens of peace and tranquillity. They provide a window on a type of gardening and design that stretches back for hundreds of years and is steeped in tradition, history and strict rules to follow for very specific reasons.
A short overview of what you need to do and you can find lots more information at our Japanese garden design website which you can view by visiting : www.makingajapanesegarden.com or try my blueprint manual -the most comprehensive guide to all aspects of Japanese gardens around at : www.japzengardens.org
Have a good and peaceful day