A Japanese garden is a beautiful, restful place to sit and contemplate nature. It is surprisingly easy to create, but it does need some planning. A Japanese garden is like a series of landscape paintings, which presents a pleasing aspect from different viewpoints.
Before you start planning your Japanese garden, first walk round your house, and find the main viewpoints from within the house. Wherever the garden is framed by a window or door looking out, you will want to fill the frame with a scene of beauty.
The basic ingredients of a Japanese garden are rocks, water and plants. A Japanese garden recreates nature's most beautiful vistas – rocks represent mountains and hills, water represents streams, rivers and the ocean, and the plants can represent forests and the abundance of nature.
If you have a 'difficult' garden – such as one on a hill, or resistant to tidy landscaped lawns – a Japanese garden can solve all your problems, since it will turn the awkward uneven parts into beautiful settings that will fill your `frames'.
The most important part of your garden design will be the water feature. The soothing sounds of water trickling over rocks or even a simple pond or fountain will be the focal point around which your garden evolves.
So first you should scout out the perfect spot for a water feature. If your garden has a sloping section or rises to a higher level, you can create a waterfall effect with piped recycled water running over rocks into a pond below. A pond by itself can be accented with a simple stone bridge, and if it is big enough, filled with carp. Set a seat by the pond and you can relax here with a cup of green tea.
The rocks you choose can be big or small according to the size of your garden. A bed of small pebbles can suffice in a court yard, but in a bigger garden, try to find larger rocks that group together well, or have interesting shapes that look like something in nature.
Stone features such as lanterns, water bowls and oriental statuary should also be added. When placing your garden features, bear in mind the principal that the garden should present a series of little landscape vignettes as the eye roams around, and remember to check from one of the `frames' within your house. You want to be able to look out and see one of your garden `pictures' clearly framed from the interior.
Paths and steps are another important feature. You should be able to stroll around your garden and have at least one of your landscape pictures `pop out'. Well placed trees and rock features can help with this surprise element.
For the best effect, the paths should simply be a series of stepping stones, which are especially effective if leading uphill or scattered pebble paths. Concrete or tiled paths don't create the right ambience, so if you have them, rip them up and replace with flat stones or a shower of pebbles.
It's a nice idea to line your paths with stone lanterns or solar lights, the latter being most useful because you don't have to remember to have tea light candles on hand. They simply light up when the sun goes down and add a new dimension to your Japanese garden.
The plants in your Japanese garden should have lots of foliage, since this is also an important feature. The Japanese look for `four season beauty' which means that they choose plants that offer beautiful aspects though the year. Pines are popular because they provide an unchanging background to the garden. Bamboo makes an excellent background but make sure it is the `non-walking' kind.
But you do not need to fill your garden to bursting point with lots of different plants. Simplicity is the key, so stick to a few varieties. Azaleas are very popular Japanese garden flowering plants, as are ornamental grasses such as Mondo and Monkey Grass.
Lilies always look superb in a Japanese garden, as do daisies and chrysanthemums. Don't overdo the floral arrangements though, as the main idea is to create simplicity and beauty that can be enjoyed all year round.
Now that you've gotten the essentials of creating a peaceful Japanese garden, please visit the free garden samples section of this website for more product freebies and offers to help you get started on your future home and garden projects.