A Japanese garden undoubtedly stands out for its unique appearance. A Japanese garden, in general, is highly regarded for its structure and symbolism. Although it may not seem like it, it is easy to implement a Japanese garden, both in a large space and in a small one. Of course, for a small space, you will obviously have to choose to place some essential elements to create a small Zen oasis in your garden.
So if your garden is very small, don’t worry. It is enough to highlight some traditional elements to highlight and understand nature as a whole. This art is obviously a very important part of Japanese culture, although it is not known exactly since when. What is certain is that the design of a Japanese garden is closely linked to its philosophy and religion.
Given this, the different styles of gardens were created to give a spiritual sense and even turn them into spaces where you could spend time to relax and meditate. Undoubtedly, contemplating or admiring a Japanese garden creates many positive emotions, emotions that you can have in your own garden.
Ideas and rules for a Japanese garden
Well, a Japanese garden is based on totally natural patterns. Compared to western gardens, Japanese gardens are asymmetrical, devoted to plants, sometimes forests or hills. A traditional Japanese garden is characterized by being natural, asymmetrical. It has everything in odd numbers, which contributes to the skewness.
It also stands out for its simplicity. The most common shape for stone or plant compositions is the triangle shape. It creates contrast and lines, which can create the feeling of calm and also tension. And curves, which in turn, softens the effect of tension. It also creates the interaction of all the elements.
Key elements for a Japanese garden
Now, if you are thinking then of transforming your garden with a Zen style, here are some ideas to get you started. These ideas are actually not difficult to implement in your garden, so read on. And if your garden is small, don’t worry, just take the ideas and tips that suit you best to create your natural space.
Without a doubt and for very obvious reasons, to start with any garden design you should start with the choice of plants. You can take your current plants or think about the ones you want. This will create the foundation for the structure or theme that you want to accentuate. You won’t have a problem finding the ones that are perfect for you.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that a Japanese maple is great for a Japanese garden. It has an interesting foliage which changes incredibly color. Starting with purple in spring and ending in orange in fall. Other perfect plants for the Japanese garden are rhododendrons, which also have many varieties to choose from.
The western rhododendron has beautiful flowers in spring. There are also the azaleas, there are evergreens with a short growth and there are deciduous ones, which have a tall growth. Bamboo is an excellent alternative for gardens that are smaller.
It is undoubtedly one of the plants that are never lacking in a Japanese garden since it plays a fundamental role in the general appearance of the garden. Besides, bamboo represents constancy and tenacity due to its flexibility. It is capable of leaning in the wind without breaking and rising again after the storm. It is really surprising since, even each part of the bamboo has a symbolism. The stem symbolizes righteousness, the hollow symbolizes humility and its green leaves symbolize eternal youth.
Another plant that you could also take into account is the cherry tree, for its emblematic spring flower. In short, you can choose a variety of evergreen plants as well as deciduous shrubs. With variety, variety you can make your garden have structure and look more natural than winter.
In most Asian cultures, a garden is a place for meditation and reflection. And for this, of course, all the senses must relax being in that place. Water represents renewal, tranquility and continuity.
Remember that a Japanese garden is basically designed by tradition, to enter a state of tranquility. Well, with that in mind, water also plays an important role in a Japanese garden. Generally, the water element is found in these gardens in order to create with greater emphasis a state of mind in absolute peace.
The sound of water, whether from a fountain or a pool, is implemented to inspire that feeling of relaxation and tranquility. Obviously, if you have a large garden, you would have no problems with the design of your Japanese garden. To add the water element, you could think of a fish pond, and better yet a bridge over that pond.
Of course, you will need to make sure that the pond is large enough to accommodate the fish well. On the contrary, if your garden is small, a small water fountain or a reflection pool where you could add aquatic plants such as water lilies would work very well. Even if space permits, you could build a water garden in different sections and joined together with the help of bridges or paths.
The paths and bridges
The paths and bridges in Japanese gardens help both body and soul to stroll in complete tranquility. The style that is chosen for the flooring is also important. This should be consistent, not only with the design, but also with the traditional Japanese garden.
If you have a large garden you could incorporate large rocks or stones. You can surround them with fine gravel or sand to trace them with a pattern that imitates the ripples of a flow of water. And in front of this landscape you can place a bench, where you can sit and reflect properly.
The stones represent the strength and strength of nature in this culture and in a Japanese garden. As much as water, rocks, sand and gravel are essential elements. Apart from the minimalist style that also characterizes Japanese gardens, there are also decorated paths and bridges that slide to other almost invisible areas of the garden.
Most of the roads are created in a zigzag pattern. This is to in a way encourage mindfulness. You can create a simple zigzag path to any small hidden space with wooden slats.
Although you could also use sand or fine gravel and make a simple path imitating the flow of water. Moreover, if you cannot place a fountain, you can also add a small bridge on a suitable pavement, simply to decorate your Japanese garden.
Statues, pavilions and stone lanterns
A traditional Japanese garden always adds at least one pagoda. The pagoda is a pavilion with an outstanding oriental style that was used as open-air temples. If you have a large garden, you may consider placing a pavilion in a corner of your garden. You just have to be careful to keep the design simple and unobtrusive so it doesn’t look too flashy.
Now if you prefer something a bit smaller then you can go for a simple stone statuette replicating the pagoda. Of course, you should also consider furniture for your Japanese garden. Low seats or benches look great but are not as practical. You could choose wooden seats, since of course they will combine perfectly with the design of your garden.
Types and styles of Japanese gardens
Many times, most people, when thinking of a Japanese garden, imagine very complicated gardens. But in reality they are not like that, there are different styles of Japanese gardens. The most popular types of traditional Japanese gardens include the Kare sansui, which is the same as a dry rock garden or better known as a Zen garden. Also the Tsukiyama that is, garden of ponds and hills. The Roji, Chaniwa or Tea Garden and the Garden of Paradise.
Zen or dry rock gardens
This is the classic type of garden for meditation. Very popular in Japan since the 14th century thanks to a Zen Buddhist monk named Soseki Musó, a teacher and creator of gardens. In these types of gardens, plant life is almost minimal or non-existent. Even sand, fine gravel and stones are almost the only elements that represent them. In Zen gardens, the most salient aspects are purity and balance.
Of course, Zen gardens can be found in very large areas. But in the same way they can be created in small spaces. Generally, Zen garden owners rake the sand or gravel with an original pattern and without copying to any other garden. This is because this type of garden tries to project the personal interior and reflection.