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Japanese Gardens are becoming more and more popular with gardeners, both professional and hobbyist alike. There are three elements that are essential in a Japanese garden, those being water, plants and stone, arranged in a harmonious way.

If you have a small terrace, or a tiny patio of fifty square feet you have the space to put a Japanese garden into play in your own environment.

A pleasure to look at year round, it needs only really a bit of pruning and some weeding, and by combining native plants in your area, you can adapt this soothing garden style to your own climate and environment.

There are five types of Japanese gardens that are normally used. These are:

Hill and pond, generally made only for viewing, they have, as the name suggests, a pond, even if it is nothing more than a 12 inch square pond, , and plants and shrubs will suggest the hills and valleys.

Strolling Gardens, are based on the idea of a lengthy journey, where the path itself is the garden, and the placement of stones on the path will suggest where to stop and where to walk.

Teahouse Gardens: taking up a little more space, they are designed around a path leading to a small teahouse or pergola

Dry Landscape: are the classic Zen gardens of stone and rock and gravel.

Courtyard Gardens, are, as the name suggests, enclosed in a rock fencing or wooden fence, and the basin of water is included for cleansing away the dirt of outdoors before entering the gardens proper and then the home. The Japanese term for this is Shu-i-wa, meaning a point of energy.

If you like this idea, but are not willing to commit your entire garden or yard to the idea, a Japanese garden can be made in a small corner of your garden or yard, defined perhaps by a bamboo fence or a living hedge. A Japanese garden is the perfect way to take advantage of a rugged or hard to landscape area of your property because it makes use of so many native plants.

Don’t overdo the plants and elements. Shibusa is the word the the Japanese use to describe a proper garden. It has many connotations but primarily what it is used to mean is restraint, or good taste and elegant simplicity. Use restraint in the design of your Japanese gardens.


When choosing plants, stones and watery features for your garden, look for big contrasts, such as lighter shades against darker and bold textures against fine ones. In a Japanese garden, the emphasis is on foliage rather than flowers, however a few flowers can be sprinkled among the foliage to emphasize the seasonal changes in your area.

A Japanese garden is a real delight to look at in any season or weather, so make sure to take full advantage of evergreens. In Japan many plants are grown simply because they look lovely with snow on their branches in wintertime.

Water is mandat0ry in a Japanese garden. whether or not it is running is really optional but even a small pool which houses one or two water plants, such as a pot sunken into the ground, or an outdoor small fountain will suffice, but should be included to get the water element added to the mixture.

Use off white gravels rather than pure white to keep the glare down, and the stones for your garden should be relatively large.

Scour landscapers, or builders who are always willing to get rid of stones they’ve dug up in their construction efforts. You might like to find some river stones to pile up in a table like manner or pebbles or river gravel which are easy to maintain.

For a restful note, add some windchimes, tie them to trees that are not visible, but the tinkling noise will be heard.

Enhance your theme by choosing rattan or bamboo furniture that will blend in appropriately with your Japanese theme.

When selecting plants for a Japanese style garden, try to incorporate a few Japanese style elements as well. Evergreens, a hardy bamboo, which is very easily grown, and Japanese maples, as well as perhaps some Japanese holly, red barberry and Swiss mountain pine are those which might be appropriate for what you are attempting to do.

Even a small still pool can have a single goldfish or a pair of them that are taken inside in the wintertime. Stocking your small pail with fish is a truly authentic touch. They add not only color, but also an element of peace. The added bonus is that they are voracious insect eaters.


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