Japanese Gardens in Your Own Backyard

People all over the world are quickly adopting traditional Japanese garden designs for their backyard. It’s no wonder that this is becoming the new trend, because Japanese gardens draw heavily on Buddhist, Shinto and Taoist philosophies, proving a spiritual haven for visitors. The elements of Japanese gardens imitate natural elements while bringing about a peaceful environment. In order to achieve this look, there are four essential elements that you must stick to:

1. Rocks

rock garden
Photo by Johnson Wang

According to Japanese philosophy, rocks signify a sense of power and desire. In fact, they’re known as the anchors of the entire garden. Rocks come in all different shapes and sizes, although dark granite ones are preferred for this matter. Arrange the rocks in groups of three to form a triangle. This represents the Buddhist trinity.

2. Water

koi pond
Photo by Daniel

Water fountains play a huge role in Japanese garden design. They are not only used to symbolize the passage of time, but also the physical and spiritual cleansing before entering a home or temple. If you have a large backyard, streams, ponds, and waterfalls are all great additions. Remember, though: since Japanese garden designs focus on mimicking nature, create winding natural shapes for these water features. You can even place koi or goldfish in your pond for a special touch.

3. Plants for Japanese Gardens

japanese maple
Photo by Grant Mccurdy

Two of the most popular trees you’ll see in a Japanese garden are the black pine and Japanese maple. They’re symbolic of strength and endurance, both very important attributes in Japanese culture. Ferns, Japanese barberries, hostas, and Japanese sweet flags are also commonly found here. And there’s moss, which is typically used as a groundcover and grows on both rocks and trees throughout the garden. Before making any plant selections, talk to your local nursery to learn what will grow best in your garden. Keep in mind the concepts of asymmetry and balance.

4. Ornaments

bouddha statue
Photo by Amanda Flavell

The most important decorative ornament that every Japanese garden should have is a stone lantern. They come in various styles, ranging from informal to formal, as well as all kinds of sizes. Some are as small as a foot, while others are more than four feet tall. Usually, lanterns are located on a flat stone next to a pond or water basin. Rain chains are often seen in Japanese gardens, too. They are a decorative substitute for gutter downspouts, which attach directly to the gutters themselves. These accessories make it possible to catch rainwater in a basin, allowing water to be reused in your garden. Statues made of weathered stone or aged bronze are a must have as well. Generally, these statues depict religious figures like Buddha.

To learn more about the history and the different styles of Japanese Gardens, watch the documentary Beautiful Japanese Gardens.


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