japanese garden view through a cement architecture

Design Your Japanese Garden Like A Pro – Here Is How

What Is The Purpose Of A Japanese Garden?

Japanese gardens are famous all over the world for their spiritual enhancing visuals and transcendental beauty. They combine essential elements of plants, water, rocks, etc., to create a tranquil retreat that inspires purity and meditative spirit. Though the design looks simple, it takes time and patience to craft it to perfection.

Searching for peace and a soothing environment? Your backyard might just be the answer. A Japanese garden gives you an alternative approach to convert your backyard into a remarkable space that creates miniature reproductions of natural scenery.

Essential Elements For Your Japanese Garden

The following is a list of some of the most commonly used elements. They are relatively easy to procure and very simple to design and install.

Stones, Sand, and Gravel

    In Japanese gardens, large stones symbolize mountains and hills. These serve as the main building materials for bridges over water bodies and pathways that create mysterious vignettes. Smaller rocks and gravels are essential to create pathways and line up water bodies such as miniature ponds and streams. If water is a constraint, you can use large stones to create visuals of mountains and hills and the smaller rocks and gravels to form structures that represent ponds and streams.

japanes exterior design waterfall

Water: Ponds, Streams, Miniature waterfalls

    Water, in all its embodiment and glory, has a mystical specter that is impossible to elude. The core element of most Japanese gardens are ponds that represent larger water bodies such as lakes and seas. These ponds create an illusion of a secluded ‘Japanese garden retreat’ with a sense of sparkling sentience. You can create streams by adjoining smaller water bodies or just by placing stones and gravels to lift the water and flow down slowly into the pond. The moving water sound from the waterfalls adds a soothing experience to the over picturesque and also attracts any aquatic fauna in your pond.

Koi Fish( Nishikigoi, Japanese Carp)

    Adding Koi (Japanese Carps) to the ponds creates visually soothing effects. The unpredictable colors of the koi bring in hours of enjoyment and add an ethereal element to the pond’s background. However, there are few things to consider before you raise a koi fish in your Japanese garden.

    Koi fish are temperate freshwater fish that can adapt to water temperatures between 48 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit. The most optimal temperature to raise koi fish is around 70 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The Koi ponds need to be at least a feet deep to serve as a buffer zone against extreme water temperatures: hot or cold. Koi fish are carnivorous, but the balanced feed is very important to maintain their health and bring out the brightest colors. Carps, in general, cannot store food; hence, regular feeding is essential. This could sometimes be up to 6 times a day. An average Koi fish lifespan is 70 years, but some grow much older and live up to 200 years.

    You can choose from several varieties of Koi fish. There are currently eight main varieties of koi fish with 26 sub-categorized varieties under them. Check the list out here.


Japanese Garden Vegetation

Plants throughout history have symbolized various emotions and feelings. These emotional symbolisms are incredibly diverse, each implying different feelings such as freedom, creativity, wisdom, serenity, harmony, etc.

Japanese garden does not require many flower plants, nor do you have to completely cover the surrounding landscape with plants. Remember, the whole picturesque should be symbolic. Include plants that add grace and elegance with colors of a similar spectrum.

Listed here are a few plants that are perfect for your Japanese Garden.

• Japanese Maple

    Popular for its magenta pink stems and bright green leaves, the Japanese Maple brings out various colors and textures to your garden during varying seasons.

• Azalea

    This plant symbolizes femininity, strength, and beauty while also prized for its trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red, pink, yellow, violet, and white. Best vegetation for the ‘studying’ or ‘strolling type’ of Japanese Garden, provide an aesthetically appealing appearance.

• Bamboo

    Bamboo in the garden? Select a clumping type of Bamboo plant rather than the ones that spread by runners. The Bamboo is an integral part of Japanese culture and symbolizes longevity and health. You can use a bamboo fence to block views of the outer world or create an entrance for your garden that gives an impression of ancient architecture.

• Cherry

    This plant tends to grow big; hence, it is better suited to larger gardens. Beautiful all through the four seasons, the cherry plants reward you with ever-changing and soul-inspiring views.

• Hydrangea

    These plants are very popular ornamental plants in Japan. Different colored Hydrangeas symbolize different emotions and feelings. While the Pink ones symbolize heartfelt emotions, the Purple Hydrangeas symbolize a desire to deeply understand someone they love. They are most lush in climates with mild summers and good rainfall. If you are in a drier region, plant the paniculata varieties: these can survive in harsher climates.

Other plants that also great for a Japanese Garden landscape are:

  • Siebold’s wood fern
  • Japanese forest grass (Aureola)
  • Camellia
  • Hosta
  • Iris
  • Lotus
  • Black mondo grass
  • Lilies
  • Japanese catmint

japanese garden design with bridge and trees

Bridges for Japanese Garden

    Another common feature in a Japanese Garden is the bridges. These are usually built of stone and wood, bridges range in complexity concerning their designs. They could be a simple slab to a full-length bridge over the streams and ponds.

Lanterns and Pillars

    Throughout Japanese history, lanterns and pillars have been symbolized as a guide. A guide that leads you towards the light from the darkness. They are an essential component of a Japanese Garden landscape and effuse a calming and soothing scenery.

japanese zen garden design with rocks

Other Must-Have Items

Granite Basins

    Japanese style granite stone water stones were traditionally used to wash hands before attending a Japanese Tea ceremony. Later they became more of a garden decoration element that combines the artistic tastes of the traditional oriental design: symbolizing spirituality and ethereal embodiment.


    The pleasant sounds from bells and chimes are not only great to reduce stress but also to suppress negativity and increase positive vibes across your landscape.

Small Benches

    These create a usable space within your Japanese garden while representing the eternal nature of elements. If you are an avid reader or need some meditation space within your garden, place a couple of stone benches near the pond or serene place.


    Another way to represent the tranquility of nature is by placing fountains with running water in your Japanese garden. You have options to choose from miniature fountains that can be placed within your pond, or you can go bolder with a larger individual fountain.

green patterned floor with white pebble

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