The Key Elements of a Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens are growing in popularity nowadays. This can be attributed to its graceful combination of plants, water and rocks all meticulously arranged to invite a sense of calm and tranquility. If you’re looking to build your own Japanese garden at home, here are important principles you should keep in mind:
1. Your stone layout sets the foundation
As Ancient Japanese mythology puts great importance to mountains and stones as the foundation of the earth, the Japanese consider this as one of their most important principles in designing their own zen gardens. They believe that stones form the frame of the garden and if they are properly arranged, the other parts of the garden should automatically arrange itself. If you’re just in the process of designing your Japanese garden, some ideas include incorporating raked gravel around islands or laying out uniform-sized gray river rocks to create a stream bed.
2. The water serves as the basis of the whole garden composition
Water is considered an essential part of every Japanese garden, as it symbolizes the steady and continuous flow of time. Elements of water in the Japanese garden are evident in their pond installations and thin water strings flowing through rocks, as well as in rocks, gravel and sand where water seems to have run dry to symbolize the passing of time. It might be a good idea to introduce falling water or bamboo fountains in your garden design to complete the Japanese garden flavor.
3. The architecture must help design a path
As the Japanese culture put a lot of significance on life being a path, its gardens are designed to take guests through a carefully designed path. On top of keeping with tradition, the main function of the path in Japanese garden design is the unification of all garden elements. They also put significant importance in designing architecture that complements the path. These are usually made of natural materials such as wood, stone and metal.
Traditional Japanese garden architecture includes pavilions, stone lanterns and wells. You can make your own tea house in the middle of your garden by using bamboo. You can even add your own personal touch to your garden by adding stone water jars or bamboo garden fences to give the impression of lightness and grace.
4. Use plants to create the background
Every Japanese garden is designed in a way that plants always obey the stone layout. So, instead of letting the plants dictate how you want your garden to look, always keep in mind your stone layout in selecting the plants that will soften the lines and create the background. You can select different kinds of garden plants to complement your stone layout from evergreens and conifers to blooming trees and shrubs, all the way to local hardwoods and perennial forest flowers. Don’t be afraid to prune the trees in order to echo your garden’s architectural design and create subtle reflections in water.
Apart from the minimalism of Japanese gardens, what most people do not realize with the design is that it attempts to illustrate the unique relationship between man and nature. Man should always improve nature, by showing its essence, and not by pressuring it to its needs. If you only keep this in mind, you’ll be able to design a Japanese-style garden that not only complies with its aesthetics but also its founding philosophy.