Gardening Tips

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Japanese Garden


September 2008


  1. Most gardens & homes create an inseparable unit. Most gardens are viewed from inside the home.
  2. The garden offers a feeling of enclosure and quiet respite from the surrounding noise and clutter of area outside the garden.
  3. Japanese Gardens are inspired by nature. Natural materials (stone, wood, plants), make up the elements of the garden.
  4. Craftsmanship is held in highest regard.

Basic Elements

  • Stone- boulders, path stone, border stone provide backbone of garden. Stone suggests a permanence and provides a sense of ageless beauty.
  • Water- is not a required element but appears in different forms in many gardens. From a simple water basin to a pond or more elaborate water feature, water can be a dominant element.
  • Enclosure- provides a sense of enclosure and gives the eye a resting point. Enclosure can be created by a wall, a fence or groupings of plants.
  • Plants- can be broken down into a few basic categories; Groundcovers (i.e. moss, turf or short bamboo), Tamamono (azalea, yew, boxwood), Specimen Trees (pines, hemlock, falsecypress) Background Shrubs (azalea, holly, aucuba), Mid-size Trees (Japanese Maples, Dogwood, Enkianthus).

Common Myths

Myth: Japanese Gardens are ‘Zen Gardens’

Fact: There is no such thing as a ‘Zen Garden’. Japanese Gardens are secular and separate from religious activities or temples.

Myth: Elements in Japanese Gardens are symbolic.

Fact: A stone represents a stone, water represents water, a tree represents a tree. Stories are not needed to enhance the beauty of a garden.

Myth: Bridges should be red or “we need a crane sculpture.”

Fact: Ornamentation should be kept to a minimum. Red structures are a adaptation of Chinese gardens.

Myth: Japanese gardeners do not care for color.

Fact: Color is used as a seasonal accent in the garden. Texture, form & shape are used to emphasize the soothing nature of green foliage.

Myth: One must use ‘Japanese plants’ to create the garden.

Fact: Many plants available in the USA are appropriate for Japanese Gardens.

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