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6 Ways To Make Your Own Japanese Garden – including plans, video’s, images, premium inspiring and helpful content and access to the ‘Turn Your Garden Japanese Podcast’ a series of audio chats about Japanese gardens , their elements and HOW you can simply create your own garden IF you have the right knowledge.
Start Creating a Japanese Garden….
Discover 6 Simple and Easy to understand and action Japanese garden ideas for your yard or garden…HOW to create, maintain and expand your little piece of Japan at home. Japanese gardens are PERFECT for small or limited spaces too.
If you are thinking of making a Japanese garden and maybe want a dry garden for a bit of Zen in your life OR a garden that reflects all 4 seasons using the right plants, shrubs, trees and ingredients our extensive Japanese garden knowledge will make it much easier for you to get started!
Japanese gardens are sparser than western gardens and to a large degree far more natural looking in their appearance. Japanese gardens are nature in miniature and because they are small you can create a Japanese garden in ANY sized space that you wish.
If you like trees and shrubs – they fit in perfectly to many Japanese garden designs. But if you want a little haven of ‘Zen’ to see off the stresses and strains of the day then a Karesansui or ‘dry garden’ is probably what you are looking for.
These consist of stones, larger rocks, moss , raked sand or gravel and are really the type of Japanese garden or Zen garden as they are quite commonly called where you can craft scenery in miniature either copying a piece of landscape that you love OR using your imagination to design a scene that fits in with what you are looking for or your surroundings.
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CLICK HERE to find out how you can get started and to sample some of our FREE content – a crash course in shrubs and trees in Japanese gardens. If you like Acers or Maples this will be really helpful to you.
FREE Japanese Garden Design Video…
We have a short Japanese garden video presentation with some great tips for making a Japanese garden CLICK HERE to watch it
Zen gardens ARE part of Japanese gardens and their culture. In Kyoto for example you can see some of the World’s finest examples of Zen gardens. Often they are part of the grounds of temples but their popularity all over the world means that they have become multi faceted and mutli purpose.
Zen gardens can be indoors, on roof terraces and obviously outdoors. A Zen garden should have more than one meaning for the viewer – interpretation is key. As the Japanese say ‘the mind is flexible if we practice flexibility’.
Listen To Our Zen Gardens Podcast….
Here is our latest ‘Turn Your Garden Japanese Podcast’ that you can listen to and it will tell you pretty much everything you would want to know about Japanese Zen gardens or to give them their correct name ‘Karesansui’ gardens – take a few minutes to relax into the world of Zen gardens and CLICK on the audio player below:
Buddhism is the root of Zen gardens and they can be used on many different levels. In Japanese the word ‘Karesansui’ means ‘dry monutain water’. Hundreds of years ago Buddhist monks would draw metaphors in dirt and so began the basics of Zen gardens withing ZEN. It is after all an aspect.
The Purpose Of A Zen Garden At Home….
For me a Zen garden is all about making the visitor or owner feel comfortable. Away from the hustle and bustle of life going on around you. a garden with a few rocks and raked sand has a tremendously calming appeal. It encourages the mind to focus on what we see and not flit around all over the place.
Zen gardens are very practical for meditation because of their feeling of calmness. The were almost visually medicinal in a way. In years gone by the wealthy, samurai and even high ranked politicians were invitied to take Tea and view these types of gardens from seated galleries. They would take in the elements of the garden and appreciate it’s meaning – for example a large stone in the middle of a Zen garden should represent the centre of the universe.
Zen gardens are designed to help us get away from a single subjective view of life . They can be visually decieving to stimulate the train of thought of a viewer. A good example of this is Ryuan-ji Zen garden which has 15 stones but wherever you view the garden from you can only see 14 stones.
Some Zen gardens demonstrate the forces of YIN and YANG – the Chinese understanding of natural forces that alster our lives and the changes in our environment. In Buddhism a similar belief is called NIYAMAS – a belief of natural forces that can change our lives and world.
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Zen gardens are a pretty complicated subject and if you would like to make one make sure you do your research. a lot of people like the concept and love the feeling of visual and literal tranquility that they bring.
Here is a guide to the essential ingredients for a Zen garden so you can get planning and designing. Don’t forget to ‘level’ an area of your yard or garden and get rid of the dreaded weeds completely:
Stones: try not to get stones that are too small. Arrange then before adding them to your garden until your feel happy with their placement. Take a photgraph to remember the arrangement for ease of adding them to the garden later on.
Rocks: You will need quite a few – it is best to gather them together in groups no lower than 3 and about 4 or 5 of those stone clusters will be sufficient.Partially bury your larger rocks into the ground in the layout that pleases your eye.
Brick and Wood: Primarily you will use either of these to ‘edge’ your garden space. You can use stones if you wish.
Fabric– you should source some landscape fabric cover sheeting. Cut to cover the base of your entire garden space. This will help prevent the return of weeds and provide a surface for your next ingredient.
Sand / Small Pebble Gravel: a covering of 4 to 5 inches will be enough ( approx 8 to 10 centimetres) going around the rocks and up to the edge of the Zen garden on all sides.
A Rake: This will give you the final ‘Zen garden’ look. Rake the sand or gravel as simply as possible. Take a look at photo’s and copy their raking if you want to be influenced by the expert Zen gardeners.
You can add pottery pieces, maybe a statue, a small pond it is up to you. these types of gardens are tranquil and peaceful and SO easy to maintain – no growing and apart from plucking out the odd protruding weed there is very little to do.
Zen gardens are special peaceful havens in a busy and stressful world and they are pretty simple to build and you will have fun too! Try our FREE book ’11 Simple Ways To Turn Your Garden Japanese’ for some inspiring garden ideas for making a Japanese garden at home! 11 Simple Ways To turn your Garden Japanese Book…
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Creating a Japanese garden does take a little knowledge and an equal measure of inspiration too!
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On a recent visit to Norway I visited an extraordinary tropical flora garden on an island near Stavanger.
It was stunning and is a garden that was developed with countless years of planning and careful planting. The family that run it used to run a flower business in the city but the grandfather found a small island to relax in and his love of gardening started to take over!
It is now over 20 acres big and features a large bamboo and bonsai garden. If you are intending making a Japanese garden at your home – or maybe it is a distant drweam?!- you will get some inspiration from these pictures.
They are from a board of pictures we have set up on Pinterest dedicated to our garden visit. Acers, Maples, Koi, pathways, edging, bonsai trees of all sizes, bamboo, rocks and a lot more. Take a look and be inspired! CLICK HERE TO SEE THE GARDEN
For even more EASY to understand Japanese garden ideas to help you make that special stress free garden area claim a free copy of my latest book ’11 Simple Ways To Turn Your Garden Japanese‘ by CLICKING HERE
The first design principle to be absolutely clear about when making a Japanese garden is that ALL elements of nature are present in these types of gardens. In Western style gardens it is usually far fewer elements of nature that are used in any one garden area.
Japanese gardens use more water – whether wet or dry- than a Western garden. Rocks and stones are much more common as ingredients too. There are reasons for this and a read up on Japanese garden history will explain all.
Gardens in Japanese culture have spiritual, historical and cultural meaning. You can read about all the aspects of Japanese gardening in one free book that I have prepared for you CLICK HERE to get your copy and also for access to my Japanese garden Newsletter called ‘The Japanese Garden Bulletin’.
For now I want to simplify the design principles so that making your own Japanese garden is simple and straightforward.
Most Japanese gardens reflect real landscapes that you see in nature. This is something called ‘borrowed scenery’. What a designer does is copy a real piece of scenery only in miniature.
You don’t have to do this because you have something called an imagination. Don’t be afraid to use it,think about the elements that you would like in your ‘mini’ landscape garden and let your mind wander. Use stones and rocks as hills and mountains, sand or gravel as water, small shrubs and grasses as plantings, trees like Acers / Maples and so on.
Think of creating a scene that catches your imagination and reduce its scale to give you a manageable garden space. There is nothing to stop you thinking big but that does mean a lot of work – it is far better to start making a Japanese garden on a small scale and once you have confidence and more knowledge increase the scale.
A pond could signify a lake, raked gravel the swirling movement of an ocean. A lot of people like water in a garden space – in a Japanese garden you can do this although in a Zen garden it is not generally included as the sand and gravel are the water area.
Flowing water in a Japanese garden signifies the passage of time. Fountains are rare but waterfalls ( more natural) are fra more commonplace.
Japanese gardens usually appear very ordered and manicured but can also be wild and even tropical in design. This gives you a lot of options depending on what garden space you have vaialable and what sort of climate you have.
One thing that I recommend is a border for your garden. It is the division between your peaceful , stress free haven and the outside world with all the distractions that go with it.I prefer a border of bamboo eith in cane form or using a growth of black bamboo for example.
Fencing ( low level) is more rustic in look and you can have a gate in a Japanese garden , usually they are found only in Tea gardens.a nice touch in larger gardens is to separate areas of a Japanese garden with different borders as the viewer and visitor moves seamlessly between areas of the garden.
Never over clutter a Japanese garden. The Japanese enjoy free space and the elements of your garden will look more natural and stand out as a result. If you want to plant dry climate plants or cactus in a Zen / Japanese rock garden then space them out to get the same effect. Less is more in a Japanese garden space and empty areas are not only authentic but pleasing on the eye to the creator and visitor!
For some really great ideas for turning your garden Japanese at home , however large or small your space, you can get a free copy of my latest book ’11 Simple Ways To Turn Your Garden Japanese ‘ by CLICKING HERE
Flat gardens within Japanese garden culture one of the simplest forms of gardens you can consider when planning a Japanese garden space.
Flat gardens, or Hira-niwa in Japanese ,do not have hills and do not have any water in the way that a western garden would. The flat area which is essentially made of either sand or more usually gravel IS the water. All Japanese gardens tend to be a lesson in environment and space.
Just like in a Zen garden the gravel is raked into swirls and different shapes to give the impression of the movement in a body of water. The ground is usually covered this way and on occasions I have seen flat gardens that use very small pebbles ,once again raked in circles and straight lines to give the impression of water ripples.
A flat garden can include many familiar ingredients that you would expect when making a Japanese garden. Stones, Rocks, Trees and Shrubs are very common. The trees although natural will be pruned and the low level shrubs and bushes shaped on the edge of the water space.
Flat gardens were first designed to interpret and in miniature mimic Japan’s seaside landscapes or some of its grander lakes, a journey through Japanese garden history points to war and water shortages as to why water was replaced by gravel as a ‘dry’ substitute. This is a trend that has continued for hundreds of years even in peacetime and with abundant supplies of water. The Edo period of Japanese history is when flat gardens became very popular.
Interestingly water features apart from a body of water are fairly common in a Japanese ‘Flat’ garden. For example, large upright stones can symbolise a waterfall and this something that you can copy for a garden space that you have in mind however large or small.
Use non sharp edged rocks or stones ( Granite) to depict islands within your gravel water area. 3 together is a popular representation of ‘The Isles of The Immortals’.The Japanese Circle and Gourd Islands are often copied and represented in the gravel water area to add the spirit of enlightenment. You will be able to get the correct rocks and stones from your local aggregate supplier – take sometime to consider the shapes that you want and strictly speaking for authenticity you should not use rounded stones.
Other ingredients that you may wish to add to a flat garden are stone lanterns, included for the illumination of parts of the garden at night, basins and if you are very ambitious even a well ! Well’s are normally constructed out of wood and have some way of getting the water out of the well – a pulley and bucket or a large wooden spoon are common.
Stepping stones can be placed across the gravel water area and look very effective if they lead to the far side of the gravel area where a rustic hut or pagoda is located. After the 16th century this was a popular type of design where the hut would be used for the slow and meaningful Tea ceremony.
A completed flat garden will give a real impression of depth of space to the viewer as the eye is drawn into the water area with the clipped shrubs on the faraway edge. The stones or rocks placed carefully within the raked gravel ‘water’ area give a feeling of depth and perspective relative to the scale of the garden.
As a Zen garden is designed to be viewed from a single space it is exactly the same with a Japanese flat garden. The view is sometimes ‘framed’ when a veranda door is opened or when looking through a larger window into the garden itself.
A flat garden is often seen as similar to a landscape painting when designed and built correctly to scale. The viewer’s eyes are drawn across the water to the carefully clipped low level shrubs and plants like Lilies or Azeleas. In Japan plantings are deliberately made in a flat garden to show off the seasons.
Maples for the autumn , Cherry blossom looks its best in Spring, the soothing impression of water signifies summer and something like a Black Pine denotes the winter.
Flat gardens became an alternative to hill gardens in Japan as were amongst then first residential gardens added to the homes of ordinary Japanese people and they continue to be a wonderful type of garden today for any yard or garden area.
I believe a ‘Flat’ or Hira-niwa garden is a cost effective and beautiful option for a domestic Japanese garden as it includes some of the essential ingredients needed for a Japanese garden as well as the classic Japanese garden design method of borrowed scenery. This is where the designer either copies a specific landscape in miniature or use existing scenery such as a hill located outside of the flat garden space to include it in the overall garden view.
But, lets face it, not many of us have a natural piece of landscape that we can include in our overall design so just the copying of a real or imaginary landscape will be more than enough. Creating miniature landscapes allows your creative juices to flow and your imagination to run wild! All the more reason to get started on building your dream Japanese garden space.
For more help with a flat garden design and how to develop your own stunning Japanese garden get your free copy of my latest book ’11 Simple Ways To Turn Your Garden Japanese’ by CLICKING HERE
Best Wishes and I hope you have found this information useful and inspiring for your own Japanese garden space!