Japanese gardens and landscape design is based on the principle of Kanso or simplicity and an abstract vision of the elements of Nature. Traditional elements are carefully placed to represent different aspects of the universe. While the defining characteristics of a Japanese garden is its simplicity and natural effects, it is a work of art that is never finished. The design and construction are just the first steps in a very long journey.
The 3 main elements of Japanese gardens are water, rocks, and plants. Other common elements in a Japanese landscape design are stone lanterns, sculptured ornaments, garden bridges, and other wood elements. Most elements are symbolic and necessary to the garden because the Japanese culture and a Japanese garden are all about symbolism.
Traditional plants of the Japanese garden are evergreen plants that create beauty in all 4 seasons. You will often see examples of willows, azaleas, bamboos, dwarf rhododendrons and lace leaf maple dispersed throughout the garden. Trees and shrubs in a Japanese garden are either dwarf varieties or artistically trimmed to create perfect replicas of the ones found in nature. The pines are always picturesque and Japanese maples are great for fall color.
Water is one of the key elements of Japanese garden design as it creates a dynamic, living environment. Again, many elements of a Japanese garden have a symbolic meaning, including landscape rocks which are an important part of Japanese gardens. Stones, like water, are one of the fundamental elements of the Japanese landscape. No matter what purpose they are used for, placed stones are never inorganic lumps of functionless matter.
A sense of tranquillity and areas for contemplation are very important elements in a Japanese garden design and should be given consideration in your design plans.