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Japanese Garden Design

Traditional Japanese gardens are designed for peaceful contemplation. They draw heavily on Buddhist, Shinto and Taoist philosophies and strive to provide a spiritual haven for visitors. The primary focus of an Oriental garden is nature. The elements of a Japanese garden mimic or symbolize natural elements. Thus, geometric shapes and artificial stone are not common in Asian landscape design. The more natural and harmonious a garden is, the more conducive it is to contemplation.

There are four essential elements used in Japanese garden design: rocks, water, plants, and ornaments. When selecting and arranging these elements in your space, it's important to keep in mind the main design principles of a Japanese garden, which include asymmetry, enclosure, borrowed scenery, balance and symbolism. These principles will work together to create the proper balance in your Japanese garden.

Get these tips:In this section, you'll find tips from landscaping professionals on:

  • Choosing simplistic and natural paving materials for a Japanese garden, including gravel, natural stone and exposed-aggregate concrete.
  • Ideas for "softening" the edges of paved patios and walkways by avoiding straight lines, emphasizing free-form and organic shapes, and using ground covers to disguise the edges.
  • Good plant selections for a Japanese garden, emphasizing evergreen varieties in various shapes, sizes and textures.
  • Choosing trees for a Japanese garden that symbolize strength and endurance.
  • Recommendations for choosing and arranging rocks in a Japanese garden to create artistic focal points.
  • Types of rocks that work well in a Japanese garden and how to find affordable sources for rocks.
  • An overview of the key decorative ornaments that no Japanese garden should be without.
  • How to incorporate stone lanterns, rain chains and other traditional Japanese garden décor into your landscape.
  • Ideas for Japanese-inspired water features that include elements such as bamboo water spouts, stone basins, waterfalls and Koi ponds.
  • How to represent water in a Japanese garden by using gravel or sand raked in wave-like patterns.
  • Choosing furniture pieces, styles and materials that blend well in a Japanese garden
  • How to enclose a Japanese garden to create a tranquil environment for contemplation.
  • Ideas for using bamboo fencing or premade bamboo fence panels to enclose your garden in traditional Japanese style.
  • Creating a welcoming entrance to a Japanese garden using Torii gates, arbors, or potted bonsai trees.
  • Common bridge styles used in a Japanese garden, including a simple wooden arch bridge and a flat, zigzag bridge.
  • How to bring the art of Japanese cooking to your garden with an outdoor teppanyaki grill, or flat-iron griddle.

The best Japanese garden designs will emphasize the concepts of asymmetry and balance in the use of their essential elements.

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