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How to add japanese garden design principles into your garden

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

With a topic like how to add Japanese garden design principles into your garden you need to look for natural inspiration from somewhere. A ShizenStyle approach will allow you to blend art and nature whether you have a small city garden or a large woodland garden.

· Observing a mountain and valley scene and a natural waterfall will help you capture the essence of a Japanese garden, more than relying on “featurism” with lanterns, pagodas, Buddhas…

· Observing old pine trees in the forest or wind beaten pines along a shoreline (any shore will do! Don't restrict yourself to images of Japan. Inspiring nature is all around you if you look for it.) will teach you about Japanese pruning styles. They are sometimes incorrectly called bonsai, which actually only means “potted plant,” and a better term is “Cloud Pruning”.

· Greatly thinning trees (especially Japanese Maples, but any tree really) is a common pruning technique used to create an airy feel and highlight the trunk and branch structure. (No mops or umbrellas allowed!)

· Plantings and groupings of boulders, shrubs, and trees are often asymmetrical and found in groups of odd numbers, as is found in nature.

· Rely more on evergreen and perennials as opposed to annuals, which often have too bold of a color.

· Shaped specimen trees are nice (expensive!) but whole gardens can be created with “mounds or domes” of boxwoods, azaleas, grasses etc mixed with small boulders.

· Some type of background or enclosure is usually necessary to define the Japanese garden space.

Best Hardscaping award for Japanese rock garden
Japanese display garden we did for a garden contest in Buffalo, NY

In the end, Japanese gardens aren’t beautiful because they come from Japan or are inherently Japanese, but because they come from a tradition that has made the study of Nature its source of inspiration. This is something everyone on earth can appreciate through their own observations of their local environment.

Studying Japanese gardens is a great way to develop your ShizenStyle. When deciding on how to add Japanese garden design principles into your garden, look through the previous bullet points for some ideas on how you can blend an ancient tradition into you modern life.

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