Make a Japanese Garden. Japanese culture is fascinating. All its idiosyncrasy, developed from centuries of the influence of Shinto and Buddhist religions, has created a special taste for beauty and the cult of form, as well as a refinement and elegance that invite meditation and inner peace in each of its manifestations.

One of these examples is found in the gardens, one of the places most appreciated by Japanese culture because it connects the human being with nature in his own home or, even, in such artificial places as the great megalopolis of the 21st century.

How to Make a Japanese Garden

Although the most impressive Japanese gardens are those that have large areas of land for their development, in the smallness of our house we can also create some of these small pools of peace thanks to the use of the same philosophy that governs these spaces and, even, we can get to place them in places as small as a terrace or a balcony.

If you want to know how to make a Japanese garden on a terrace and what criteria you should take into account in its realization, keep reading and we’ll tell you.

Design and construction of a Japanese garden

The first thing that must be taken into account when making a Japanese garden is that, although they all have elements in common, there is no single rule or rule that serves as a dogma when it comes to making them. Actually, the most important thing in the realization of a Japanese garden is the philosophy that hides behind each of the elements that make it up.

Therefore, you can not establish a single type of Japanese garden, but all those who are inspired by this philosophy may be considered Japanese gardens as such.

This philosophy would be the Shinto religion and Zen Buddhism. These visions of the world give great importance to the human being being in tune with the rest of nature, for which, meditation plays a fundamental role. Unlike the gardens that we could consider “Western”, the Japanese gardens flow with nature itself in order to unify with it.

That is, it does not seek to “dominate nature,” but to merge with it. Thus, in Japanese gardens we will find mostly curved lines, elements present in the wild nature, as well as a great representation of spaces destined, simply, to connect with nature.

How to prepare the space to make miniature Japanese gardens

It is clear that, with some exceptions, most terraces are too small to create a large Japanese garden. Because of this, it is important to know what real possibilities we have and what we do not.

In this way, the first thing we must do to make a Japanese garden on our terrace will be to delimit the space that we are going to allocate to this garden and adapt it as best as possible to our purpose.

Once we have the space delimited, the Japanese garden will be made by placing or incorporating elements that help us connect with nature, which, as explained, should be the ultimate goal of every Japanese garden.

One of the elements that are very important in the Japanese gardens is the roads, in order to practice the walk since it is a way to connect with nature. However, since it will not be possible to do this on a terrace, it is best to opt for the other typical structure of these gardens: the gazebo.

The arbor is a semi-open space that allows one to be comfortable and connected with nature at the same time. In this place, is where you usually practice the tea ceremony, which is one of the highest forms of meditation and connection with the absolute that can be practiced.

In this sense, one of the elements that we should take into account to make a Japanese garden on our terrace would be the creation of a space where you can sit, meditate, drink tea, or simply devote yourself to contemplation. The most advisable thing will be to adapt this space first, which can be directly on the floor on a rug with cushions, and then and around this space, add different elements related to the Japanese gardens.

Common elements in a Zen Japanese garden

Every Japanese garden should have the following elements:

The stones

The stones are one of the most important elements of any Japanese garden. The best thing is that they are natural stones, that is, without having been artificially transformed by the hand of man. The most used in Japanese gardens are sharpened and pointed stones, especially basalt stones. They can be used to delimit the garden area or as a decorative element.

The sand gardens

The gardens of sand, also called gardens zen, are one of the typologies of the Japanese gardens more known of all. These gardens represent, roughly, the firm ground (with the stones) and the ocean (the sand), whose waves are represented using a rake to shape the sand. It is one of the most used meditative processes in Japanese gardening, so if we have space on our terrace, we can incorporate a small sand garden that brings harmony to the whole.

The bonsai

Bonsai trees are, literally, miniature trees on a tray. They are a way of encapsulating a small part of nature to have it close to us despite the distance that can separate us from the most authentic nature. In the case of a Japanese garden on a terrace, they are a good option to adapt the little space available to the needs of having near the wild and true nature that represent the trees.


Other fundamental elements in any Japanese garden are ponds and water in general. In a terrace, it is complicated to incorporate this element. However, it can be done thanks to the use of water plants, such as the well-known bamboo of luck or, even, the lotus plant itself, which will be the best possible inspiration when meditating in this garden Japanese improvised in the limits that implies a terrace.

How to design a Japanese garden

Do you have outside space in your home? As small as this is you should know that it offers you multiple possibilities and, what is more important, all the time you spend in this external space will provide you with great benefits, all derived from a greater contact with nature, something that seems to have completely lost in the more urbanized nuclei.

This space can be exploited in different ways, have you considered creating a Japanese garden? Despite its name, it is a tradition that was born in China and has evolved to the present. You can also have a beautiful corner of peace in your home, in this article we explain how to design a Japanese garden.

Types of Japanese garden

Besides being a place of peace closely linked to the famous Japanese tea tradition, the Japanese garden tries to reproduce a vision of the cosmos, in this sense, although it requires a design, those who most respect this ancient tradition insist that just like It happens with nature, not seeking perfection but beauty in asymmetry.

There are different types of Japanese gardens and you can design one or the other according to the available space and resources:

  • Walking gardens: They require a considerable space since they are designed to be seen from a path through which one walks, this path usually surrounds a pond.
  • Tea gardens: More than a garden, it is a path that is built with stones and moss and leads to the straw hut where the Japanese tea ceremony takes place.
  • Gardens of absence: It is a garden to be contemplated from a specific place, traditionally used to be found in the interior courtyards of the traditional wooden houses of Japan, which had a great depth.
  • Contemplating gardens: They are popularly known as Zen gardens and the monks introduce them to their temples. It is a garden whose objective is to be contemplated in order to facilitate the state of meditation.

The easiest Japanese garden to build in the home is the contemplation garden or the zen garden. If you do not do meditation, it does not matter, because the simple construction and maintenance of the garden can also be understood as a present meditation.

Essential elements in a Japanese garden

The Japanese garden seeks to represent the cosmos in the form of mountains and water, for which rocks are used as islands that are symbolically contained by a space that symbolizes the sea.

How do we achieve this? Let’s see some basic guidelines below :

  • The rocks or stones most used are those of volcanic origin, however, this should not determine the creation of the garden, you can include the rocks and stones that best suit your tastes.
  • The stones are not cleaned but must be placed in the garden in the same way they were found in nature.
  • The stones should not be placed coinciding with the supports of the house, since the composition of the garden does not seek order but the similarity with nature and the cosmos.
  • The stones should not be shown symbolically contained in a large ocean but should be simulated so that the sea flows between them.
  • Not all houses have a space where a pond can be included, in this case, water is represented by sand or gravel.

The vegetation in the Japanese garden

According to the design of the garden that we have chosen, the vegetation can have a great role and even be an essential part of the composition along with the stones. In this case, a fern and moss base is traditionally used, on which the maples and pines have a special place, although bamboo, as well as any evergreen plant, are also plant elements very present in this type of garden.

We must also remember that one of the basic elements of Japanese garden composition is scale, that is, to create a micro landscape. In this case, bonsai is a great alternative, although they require complex care, you can also use the so-called komatsu, they are small trees that remain always young (being changed as they get older) and represent eternal youth.

If you use a Komatsu tree, you should know that the most traditionally used are young pines, since these have a bluish color similar to that which can be observed in the sky at the beginning of the morning.

Regarding the symbolism of the vegetation present in the Japanese garden, moss has traditionally been used to represent dew drops. The creation of a Japanese garden must have some essential elements as we have seen, but it can also contain many symbolic elements, in this sense, the best thing is that you let yourself be carried away by your creativity in order to achieve a unique garden that reflects to perfection all your tastes.


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