There is nothing quite as peaceful and harmonious as a traditional Japanese garden, and there is a reason for this. Japanese gardens originated from a desire to experience the beauty and peace of the countryside, and over time this tradition has become a big part of the Japanese culture, combining the basic elements of water, plants, and rocks, and clean, simple lines to create a calming haven. If you fancy bringing a little Zen landscaping to your own garden, read on for some ideas to help you along the way.
1. Keep it simple
The key to achieving the calm of a Japanese garden is to keep the design simple; this is certainly not the time for any baroque touches! The Japanese like their gardens to be like a small landscape, with a balance of the elements that will create a sense of harmony.
2. Embrace the elements
Japanese gardens tend to be very well thought out, with each aspect of the garden having a purpose or some kind of symbolism. In these gardens, it isn't only the plants that play a role; other non-living elements are just as important. There tends to be a lot of stone used in Japanese gardens, whether in the form of scattered boulders, pebbles for paving, exposed-aggregate concrete, or small bridges. Water is also important, and you can often find small waterfalls or beautiful ponds in Japanese gardens. Don't feel that you have to do too much in your garden, though; base your design on the size of your space to avoid it looking cluttered, which is the antithesis of a Japanese garden.
3. Select lush, green plants
Japanese gardens tend to be populated with lush plants and trees, such as bamboo and Japanese maples. Other popular plants include ferns, willows, and Japanese black pine. The Japanese often use moss as a ground cover, and this is a great choice as it is lush and easy to take care of. When organising where to place your plants, be sure to do it a natural way; you want to make it look like your plants have just naturally grown in their location, so keep a sense of asymmetry and balance in mind.
4. Add some finishing touches
Whether you plump for a traditional koi pond, a small bridge, a bamboo fence or a stone lantern, choose one item to add a finishing touch to your Japanese garden.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help give you an idea of what you want in your Japanese-inspired garden. Just remember, keep it simple and don't try and put too much into your garden and you'll soon be relaxing in your own meditative space.