Creating a Japanese-Inspired Paradise in Your Backyard

backyard pond

The many months holed up at home are likely to have intensified your wanderlust. You are not alone in those random moments where you miss meals in airport lounges and the excitement of airplane landings.

Don’t the chaos and busyness of work and life just make you want to escape, sometimes? While waiting for traveling to become safer, there is a simple, yet exciting way to address the itch to fly. Bring the travel to your own backyard!

A garden makeover may just be exactly what your life needs to give it a sense of serenity. Take this time as the perfect opportunity to change it up and transform your backyard into your very own zen garden.

A Brief History of Zen Gardens

Japanese rock gardens, or “karesansui&rdquo (literally “dry mountain water”), date back to the 14th century in Japan. Zen Buddhism was introduced to the country during the Muromachi Period. Gardens cropped up at Zen temples, particularly Kyoto, and encouraged contemplation and meditation.

Instead of water, these gardens mainly used sand amongst stones. The sand represents water through the tracing of ripple-like patterns, which are reminiscent of water. It also illustrates negative space, while the rocks represent elements found in landscapes — that is, the likes of mountains, trees, and animals.

The balance exhibited by grouping together rocks and sand is taught in Sakuteiki ( ldquo;Records of Garden Making”), an 11th-century gardening manual. Enthusiasts and beginner gardeners alike can find practical tips in arranging elements in this book, including others not found in karesansui, such as ponds.

Kyoto is home to varieties of zen gardens in different styles, with some of the most notable ones being the Tenryūji, Saihōji, and Tōfukuji. The unifying factor of these stunning gardens is their air of tranquility and peace. As a whole, zen gardens invite visitors to enter into meditation.

Key Points to Incorporate

An understanding of zen gardens is a great starting point for the creation of your very own home sanctuary. Whether you’re working on your own or with your trusted landscape artist, the goal is to create a restful space in your yard that tastefully incorporates Japanese elements while maintaining the distinct personality of your home.

Mix up softscapes and hardscapes.

Lush, carefully placed greenery is a must. Achieve a quiet liveliness in the space through the introduction of the bright greens of moss, with calmer shades provided by the likes of bamboo and Japanese maple trees. Cherry trees may also add a welcome dash of color to your garden.

Combine the softscapes with strategic placements of rougher elements like rocks and concrete. These can come in the form of pathways and dividers that also highlight the contrast of bright greens and grays.

Japanese garden

Introduce water into your space.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate water in your home garden. The most common way is to have a pond installed. Breathe more life into it by adding koi or scattering water lilies around. More than its decorative function, water lilies also prevent the growth of algae, keeping your pond water clearer for a longer period.

A wonderful way to personalize your garden is to add a modern touch. One way to do this is by installing an inground swimming pool that makes use of the natural greenery and rocks to form a seamless connection with the rest of your garden.

Fountains are also an understated way to add water. You can even mix it up by having your fountain structure flow into your pool.

Integrate traditional architecture.

Your zen garden doesn’t have to be all plants and ponds. Insert traditional Japanese statuary to diversify the elements in your garden while staying true to its atmosphere.

Adding a gazebo, a bridge, or a simple seating area invites people to sit in the space. Aside from your pool, this can be another area that brings a sense of calm and relaxation to your garden.

Make it your own.

It is perfectly possible to find pieces that don’t quite meet the requirements of a traditional zen garden along the way. If you find something you like, don’t be afraid to diverge from your original design.

The worst thing that could happen is to have your backyard overhauled and then end up unhappy with the final product. There is a way to turn your backyard into a space that is reminiscent of the beautiful temples of Kyoto while also reflecting your own style philosophies.

Leave room for these little interruptions. You never know the magic that could happen

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