If you’re wanting to focus on improving your garden in time for summer and want to do something a bit different, then we’ve got the perfect inspiration for you. Japanese gardens are known to feel extremely relaxing, so if you want a zen space in your home where you can fully unwind in, then taking inspiration from Japanese gardens could be a great way to go. Whether you’re doing a complete garden renovation or you just want to incorporate a few elements into your garden design, we’ve got you covered!
Less Is More
Firstly, when you’re deciding the direction to go in for your Japanese garden, less is more. You don’t need to fill your garden with extravagant design details, but instead, focus on simple statement components around the garden, with more of a focus on the hard landscaping and adding stunning plants to the space. You could also put more effort into creating elements of mystery in the garden rather than big design features, like a stone-led winding path that takes you to a pagoda in the back corner of the garden, or perhaps a hidden fairy house under stunning Japanese plants for grandchildren to find and enjoy. This is why Japanese inspired gardens are so great, because you can add just a few touches to bring the relaxing feel without spending a fortune.
Invest In Perennials
Now, focusing on your plants specifically, you should invest in perennials for your Japanese garden. Growing evergreens that will remain in your garden for years to come will not only help you to create an established and well grown garden, as well as providing a space to enjoy all year round. When you do focus on perennials, you won’t get huge amounts of dramatic contrast, but that isn’t necessarily what Japanese gardens are about. Instead, enjoy subtle colour and texture differences throughout your garden. Stunning Japanese evergreen shrubs include Japanese Maples and Rhododendrons for the contrast, then support with pittosporum variegatum, choisya, fatsia japonica and hellebore.
Of course, you will want to have some stand out plants in your garden that may not last all year, like Azaleas, Japanese woodland primrose, Japanese catmint and Japanese cherry blossoms, however focus on creating a stunning base of evergreen plants and then build around that.
Take Care Of The Lawn
A focus in Japanese gardens is always to have a well kept lawn, so this is important. You should regularly mow with a good quality lawnmower, keep it short, keep it free from weeds and also water your lawn (unless you live in the UK where this won’t be necessary for most of the year!). While you do want your lawn to look well kept, it should also remain looking natural and harmonious with the rest of your garden. A good looking lawn brings any garden space to life and helps to compliment the hard work you’ve put in everywhere else in the space. Lawns aren’t always very big in Japanese gardens, but make sure to look after the space that is there.
Another big element of Japanese gardens is hard landscaping. Having gravel, rocks, stepping stones and a wooden pagoda around your garden will help to bring texture and variation throughout the space. From fine gravel paths through to much larger stones for features around ponds, focus on mixing darker grey and more pale elements to achieve an ultimate feeling of calm. We’d recommend starting your project with the hard landscaping, then building around these core components of your garden with your plants will bring everything to life and ensure everything works really complimentary.
Over 1,800 varieties of moss grow naturally in Japan, so it’s no wonder that they play a significant role in Japanese gardens. There is a huge amount of variety in the different types of moss, from spiky to smooth and soft, as well as a stunning array of different shades of green. Moss is really respected in Japanese culture, known to represent harmony, age and tradition. So, you should try to incorporate moss in a section of your garden to bring this tradition to life. Start with a firm soil surface, lightly scratch it and then soak your moss in a bucket of water for a few minutes (unless it’s already alive and healthy then you can skip this step). Place your moss down onto the soil, press it in, water thoroughly and then make sure to keep it moist for the next month. Whether you decide to do a significant amount of the lawn with this or just a section, it brings such a unique look to your garden.
Consider Your Furniture
Japanese garden furniture comes in all shapes and sizes, so you can find something to perfectly work in your space. In general, a timeless and really relaxed look will come from low height furniture in a sleek style, without bold patterns or textures. A dark grey metal base with light grey cushions and also some subtle accent cushions, perhaps in a pastel blue or greenshade. You could also have some little furniture features around the garden, especially if it’s large, like an accent chair in the corner of the garden. If you don’t have a huge budget, make sure to check local marketplaces. Often you can find the base of garden furniture then you can add your own cushions, as a cheaper option for your garden makeover! Or, if you don’t want to spend much money at all, you could try and renovate your existing garden furniture with Japanese inspired elements, like a dark teak staining or understated accent cushions.
Japan is home to the iconic Bonsai trees, known to symbolise harmony, peace and balance, so regularly feature in Japanese gardens. Bonsai trees need to stay in their container until they’re too big and are repotted, so you don’t ever pot them directly in soil. Place them on benches, tables and walls to not only give them the exposure they deserve to add stunning components to your garden, but this helps to keep them healthy. You can get bonsai’s of all different sizes, so you can decide whether you want to invest more in larger, more established trees, or you could start very small and watch them grow. Growing bonsai trees does take time, and you should do some research into how to care for outdoor bonsai trees, however they can become a core part of your Japanese garden.
Get A Pagoda
Last but not least, a pagoda is an important part of a Japanese garden! Having some kind of wooden pagoda in the garden is a stunning addition, especially with an outdoor hanging light feature. The perfect place to sit and admire your garden from, this is a great feature to have in your space. Often in Japanese gardens, any wood is stained in a dark teak shade, so you could stain your pagoda and then also make sure that the fences around your garden match. This is a more expensive investment for your garden compared to our other suggestions, however if you are planning a complete garden renovation, then this is definitely something to consider for your new Japanese inspired garden!