Japanese gardens have a special charm and demand a bit more of regular maintenance than a common garden, but they sure are worth the trouble. Their uniqueness truly makes up for all the hard work.
The Japanese garden is known for its minimalism that aims at providing you with a place for quiet meditation and reflection. This type of garden came to life centuries ago, developed in the gardens of Japan's ruling elite to provide them with the necessary calmness in the times of war and restlessness. Over a long period of time, it has transformed into a way of life that that aspires to achieve balance, peace and modesty. And that is what is reflected in these gardens. If you want to create a Japanese garden that doesn’t cost much, the following steps are necessary.
Preparation of the existing garden
You probably already have a garden, so let's see what you should do to prepare the terrain for something different.
First of all, it's important to get rid of the garden clutter, as it prevents you from having a clear mind. Remove the pots, old bikes and tools and leave bare minimum. A couple of chairs or a bench is all you will need.
Next, make the right fence to frame the garden. Materials that represent simplicity are an excellent choice. A bamboo fence would be a naturalistic way to mark your garden's perimeter. It is also a renewable resource that is easily incorporated in this design but can be applied to any garden, really.
Next, take a look at the existing trees and bushes. Maybe you will need to pluck out some of them to widen the view or to get rid of those that are simply too sick or too old. It is time for some new plants, but don't get carried away here. Stick to two or three crawling or mossy plants - it will make the maintenance easier but will also reflect the simplicity you are aspiring to.
In case you have a pool or a pond, clean it thoroughly and frame it with tiles. Don't start the garden less than six feet from the pool's edge because it will reduce the amount of debris in the pool.
The beauty of the details
The elements of a Japanese garden should contribute to the creation of an elegant oasis perfect for relaxation and reflection. In other words, most of them should be easily found in nature, such as water, rocks, sand and wood.
Water is an indispensable element, so find a way to incorporate it into the garden, either through a stream or a pond or at least in the dry rock garden where it will be represented by white sand. As water and stone are symbols for the yin and yang in Buddhism, they complement each other perfectly. Avoid perfect lines, so the pond should be in an irregular shape.
The wooden elements will be present in the sitting area through chairs, where you can also install opening roof systems to create a type of entrance into the garden.
Feel free to use sand to fill the space between the paths, decorating it with rocks of various size and shape - diversity is what will create a natural look.
You can get inspiration from different periods when variations of Japanese gardens were formed.
For example, the Edo period lasted from 17th to the 19th century, characterized by large gardens with ponds, artificial hills and islands. It was made for relaxing strolls that have a circular trail.
The modern variations like Meiji also contain western elements like open lawns and flower beds. If they exist in Tokyo, why couldn't you have them in your backyard?
Of course, you can get ideas from the 16th century Japanese gardens (the Momoyama period), which were famously called tea gardens. They are characterized by two distinct areas separated by a bamboo gate or a rock wall covered with moss, with one opening to go from one area to another.
Japanese gardens, even though their goal is simplicity, have many beautiful variations. Their beauty is in your ability to choose different approaches to its philosophy. But the goal remains the same - create peace and balance and find your inner self in it.