Japanese Gardening

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated October 16, 2019)

Imagine meandering on a winding rock path, bordered by lush, low-lying succulent mosses. You pause and sit on a cool stone bench, your gaze following the length of a Katsura tree, from its gnarled roots to its small-leaved canopy. You continue with your walk and, to your delight, find a small pond around the next bend, nearly covered by a small bridge. As you stroll to the house at the center of this garden, you feel serene and refreshed, and happy to know that this is your garden—your Japanese garden.

If you've ever contemplated making your own Japanese garden, there are a few things to consider before you begin. Although there are different styles of Japanese gardens, many incorporate at least three of the following elements:

  • Rocks
  • Water
  • Plants
  • Stepping stones
  • A bridge
  • Lanterns
  • Benches of stone or bamboo
  • A gazebo-style structure such as a teahouse, pavilion, or pagoda

Most importantly, a Japanese garden has at its center a home from which the garden may be viewed. The purpose of a Japanese garden is to create balance and harmony, culminating in serenity. Rocks and stones are used to symbolize mountains and islands, water is a symbol of purity, a bridge represents a journey, and lanterns and other passive ornaments are used as visual interest. However, how you create your Japanese garden is entirely up to you. Incorporate plants and ornaments in your garden that have meaning and symbols important to you and your family, and then follow these simple principles:

  • Create unity by repeating designs, shapes, and patterns. Use natural items to feel closer to nature.
  • You find symmetry as well as asymmetry in nature, so incorporate both into your garden design to create a balance.
  • Keep things simple. Look around you and you will understand that, in nature, the more simple the tree, the more complex the bark. Use that same thought pattern when making your Japanese garden. Keep things simple, yet intricate, when building a rock garden. Use complex rock in a simple design.

The most important aspect of a Japanese garden is to make a place to think and reflect, and to leave feeling refreshed, and having had an almost spiritual experience for having visited the garden.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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