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Japanese landscaping basics: Creating your own zen garden

by Jessica Nguyen 11/20/2022

For homeowners wanting to create a space of zen and comfort in their outdoor area, it can be helpful to take inspiration from Japanese landscaping design.

Featuring a perfect blend of natural and man-made elements, Japanese gardens are synonymous with tranquility and quiet beauty. What better way to unwind and enjoy the fresh air than with your personal zen garden oasis?

Here are some Japanese garden ideas to help you incorporate the basics of the style into your exterior design:

Prioritize water features

Water is arguably the most important element in Japanese garden design. Not only will a water feature bring extra depth and dimension to your outdoor space, it can serve as a great focal point. Softly babbling fountains and still, reflecting pools are both great options, especially when incorporating natural, mossy stone textures into the design.

Create gates & pathways

Most Japanese gardens feature winding stone paths to wander and peacefully contemplate. Even in a tiny outdoor space, creating a trail with fine gravel, stepping stones or bamboo planks can add dimension and intrigue to your garden.

Gateways and entrances are also key to Japanese style gardens. An impressive garden gate can serve as the threshold into a zen state of mind, while also keeping your yard private and sheltered.

Keep it evergreen

Japanese gardens typically feature evergreen shrubs and trees, which keep the landscape lush and green all year. For some added color, a Japanese maple creates striking seasonal contrast with their intense red leaves against a backdrop of pines. Other trees common to Japanese gardens include plum, magnolia and bamboo.

Bamboo is a hallmark of a Japanese inspired garden, and it’s a hardy, easy plant to grow. Plant bamboo strategically to create natural barriers, but beware of its aggressive growth habit - it may require pruning to keep your design under control.

If you’re interested in creating an authentic Japanese garden design, these are but a few simple ways to get started. Incorporating other popular garden features like stone lanterns, statues, bridges and gazebos will also bring a sense of zen to your yard and help you to the next step in this Japanese garden style.

About the Author

Jessica Nguyen

"Buy, Sell, Invest with Confidence"

Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate journey or you know exactly what you're looking to do, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.

  • 2015 Pinnacle Award (Top 3 Agent/Broker in office)
  • 2017 Two Diamond Award at HomeSmart International
  • 2017 Circle of Excellence Top 5% in San Diego County
  • 2018 Diamond Award at HomeSmart International
  • 2018 Circle of Excellence in San Diego County
  • 5 Stars Zillow Agent
  • 2019 Circle of Excellence Top 5% in San Diego County Silver Award
  • 2019 Diamond Award at HomeSmart International