Japanese garden

Natural materials, simplicity and well-chosen decor help set the mood of this Japanese garden

A Japanese-styled garden can be designed into landscapes with many different climates. Work with your own, local environment to blend an Asian feel into your outdoor surroundings. Collect pictures of the kind of landscapes you like from magazines, books and the Internet. Take a trip to any nearby public gardens with an Asian theme. See how designs flow, make a note of décor that would work in your own garden and ask about the plants chosen. They should give you some clues of which plants will do well in your own Japanese landscape design. Then, armed with some fresh ideas, take a look at the space on your own property.

Start with a layout that will follow the natural flow of your property. Use different levels and areas to design your picture. Paths are ideal to lead from one part of the landscape to the next while keeping in harmony with the theme of a Japanese garden. Walls can be constructed of bamboo mats or tall, narrow plants. If you only have a small space to work with, design it like a single Oriental-styled room.

Keep your plant selection simple. Most Japanese gardens make each plant into a statement. Ferns, azaleas, Japanese Maple trees are some favorite plant choices, but the kind of plant is less important than the harmony created between the shape of the plant and the space in which it is planted. Choose plants that will thrive in your garden space.

Then be selective about your décor. Add a lantern or a sculpture. Carefully place a tricking fountain. Or if you have a large space, design in a koi pond. Use building materials like natural stone, rock, gravel, sand, wood and bamboo. And make sure you design seating into your Japanese landscape so you can spend time relaxing and enjoying it in good weather.

There are many features you can build into a Japanese landscape. The most important tip to remember is to keep the design simple. You are trying to create a peaceful space. Clutter will only add confusion. Design you space slowly, select carefully and use the same calm, serene state of mind putting together your landscape as you want reflected back to you in your finished garden. This way you are not only likely to end up with a successful garden, but you can enjoy the process of building it, too.