If you live in the West and you’re a little worried that your garden looks the same as your neighbor’s, then you might want to try a little Japanese inspiration.
Japan is a country, like many in the West, obsessed with its gardens. In Japan, the purpose of the garden is not to provide leisure or be a show of wealth, but to impart feelings of tranquility and peace. The cultural origins of gardens, therefore, are strikingly different from what many people are used to.
Because of this, gardens in Japan have a different style and theme. The focus is less on symmetry and formality, and more on creating the sort of places that allow the mind to wander from the troubles of the world. To put it bluntly, Japanese gardens are a kind of therapy.
So how do you create a Japanese garden? What are the principles behind such a project? Let’s take a look.
Include Lots Of Bamboo
Bamboo is a type of grass, not a tree, even though it can grow as tall as trees and is solid to the touch. It’s not just food for pandas either; it’s a crucial ingredient in the average Japanese garden. Bamboo works exceptionally well as a form of natural fencing and is an excellent tool for enclosing small, narrow backyards, typical of so many Japanese suburbs.
Don’t Forget The Cherry Tree
Japanese cherry blossom is famous all over the world, and for a good reason: it’s probably the most spectacular of all blossoming trees in the northern hemisphere. No Japanese garden would be complete without a cherry blossom bloom in the spring months.
Include Indigenous Plants
Indigenous plants, like Weigela florida, give Japanese gardens an authentic appearance. Rhododendron plants also help to create the color palette that is emblematic of gardens from the region.
The Japanese believe that a garden is a place for meditation and reflection. Water has been a critical meditative aid for thousands of years, and so it should come as no surprise that it has made its way into the Japanese garden environment.
Both running water and still pools are acceptable since both help to create a profound sense of tranquility and serenity. Many Japanese gardens include small, decorative bridges over ponds to allow owners time and space for quiet contemplation of their existence.
If you visit a large Japanese garden, you’re likely to find stone ornaments and symbols along the main walkways. These symbols are often purely for decorative purposes, although they may also be religious in nature.
If you don’t have any running water in your garden, you can use raked gravel to mimic the appearance of a flowing stream. You can use small bridges to traverse this ersatz feature, creating a more natural-looking environment.
Creating a Japanese-style garden is by no means easy. But once you understand the basics and put them all together, you can design something that stands out.