How to make a Japanese garden
Making a Japanese style garden is the dream of many people but is often viewed as too difficult and intricate.
Japanese gardens are reflections of life and come in many forms with vastly differing features. For example some use water, some are flat, some are hilly, others are for walking around and viewing whilst those with a ‘Zen’ feel are hugely popular.
First up, you need to decide what sort of Japanese style garden you would be interested in having at your home then depending on the size of space that you have pick a ‘Theme’ and the ingredients to match.
So, for example if you wanted a gravel and rock garden (sometimes referred to as a Zen garden) and only have a limited amount of space then you would choose smaller gravel and stones to represent islands in a ‘Sea’ of gravel – the gravel symbolises water.
Here is an example for you:
This Japanese garden is beautifully designed. It has the gravel which is raked but contained within a square edge symbolising the sea. The gravel is raked around the stones – they symbolise islands – showing the movement of the water.
Around the edge are a whole host of low level shrubs looking like dwarf forests.
This sort of garden takes a little effort but is not that difficult to do.
Everything has to be in some form of proportion. This garden is a landscape so the stones have to be the right size to give the right aesthetic effect.
It is best with this type of garden to draw a plan and get a real feel as to how it will look.
Something like this, one I did for a small Zen style garden at my home.
It doesn’t matter if you change your final garden from an original plan, it’s important to jot down some ideas and get a feel for how your Japanese garden will look. By knowing the dimensions you will be able to work out how much gravel you will need and how many shrubs or trees you will require to make your design come to life.
Here’s an example of a full plan I drew up for my entire Japanese garden area including my gravel and stone garden.
As you can see the gravel garden is on the far left and a ‘Dry’ water river which is made of stone laid in the right way to show the flow of the river goes up a slight slope to another raised rock garden.
By planning out your Japanese garden it will give you reassurance on your vision and help you see whether what you are planning is feasible or too ambitious or maybe not ambitious enough.
‘Zen’ style gardens are the easiest to create BUT only if you get all the ingredients in direct proportion otherwise it will look out of kilter.
Here is the gravel area ( the Sea) when we dug it out, edged it with granite slabs and laid an anti weed cover.
And here it is from above – if you refer back to the full garden plan above – the hill with the dry river is to the right of the gravel/ sand area meandering ( like a river) through the trees and shrubs.
I did change the sand to bigger gravel as in certain damper climates sand is very difficult to keep pristine and rake in the correct way. Below is a picture of the rocks that I used and the gravel I chose.
The gravel is 10mm in size and to fill this space to a depth of 5 centimetres took around 20 bags. Always buy some spare for repairs and replacement.
You may not be interested in a rock garden and have a dream of a more complicated Japanese garden. Japanese gardens are at one with nature and should always be created to look good in any season.
Trees, plants and shrubs need to be chose carefully. An understanding of a little of the history of Japanese gardens is preferable and well worth spending some time finding out about them.
You have a lot of ingredients to play with – Stones, Rocks, Shrubs, Trees like Azaleas, colourful plants like Camelias, Hosta’s, Bridges,Boundaries, Stone pathways, Stepping stones, Tea house,Bamboo, Lanterns and Ornaments the list goes on.
To make your dream of having a Japanese garden a reality you can seek professional help ( Expensive) or you can rise to the challenge of doing it yourself using your imagination and design skills. The thrill of completing a Japanese garden is memorable and it will last you a lifetime.
Start small and add areas to it as you become more confident and experienced. When you look out of a window and see your garden and the admiring looks it gets from friends and family you will fully appreciate how worthwhile a thing it was to do. A calm stress free haven where you live to relax and enjoy.
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Here at ‘Turn Your Garden Japanese’ Dot Com we have numerous resources to help you design, create and achieve your dream of a Japanese garden space at home. Our latest is a package, never available before,of interviews on various aspects of Japanese Garden.
Over 1 and a quarter hours of Premium Japanese Gardens Content from 4 experts who love the beauty, simplicity and meaning of every type of Japanese gardens. This kind of help and advice is pretty hard to find unless you want to pay a lot of money! CLICK HERE to find out more.
And because we realise that people like you are busy and on the go. We have put together a package of Japanese garden interviews that you can easily listen to that will give you a great understanding of what Japanese gardens ARE and HOW you can quickly start thinking about creating your own!
- Japanese Garden Design – Anna Barker Discusses One Japanese Garden Project From Start To Finish – We’ve Included a Before and After photo gallery of the project so you can appreciate just what is possible.
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Click on this link to watch our short Slideshow BuildingaJapanesegardeninasmallspacePowerponit_slides
Here’s is our Pinterest page and board for a stunning private Japanese garden in the UK, tucked away out of site but a garden that has taken 30 years to imagine and create – so many beautiful features that are so well thought out.
Take a look by CLICKING HERE
If you are thinking of making a Japanese garden then this garden would be a great one to get some ideas from!