Small Japanese Garden Ideas

In a world of chaos, it’s important to create a special space in your backyard where you can get all the peacefulness in mind. You can bring a touch of tranquility to your backyard with these small Japanese garden ideas. This traditional style of gardening emphasizes natural elements to encourage relaxation and a reflective atmosphere. Moreover, this oriental gardening style will never go out of style! Read on these small backyard zen garden ideas to find out how.

Small Backyard Zen Garden Ideas: Some Key Elements You Should Add

Small Japanese Garden Ideas

If this is your first time creating a small zen garden, these are some of the most common basic elements to give you some sort of insight. Remember, the essence of a Japanese garden, regardless of how small or massive it is, is to give you some sort of serenity, a place that is specially designed to connect you with nature.

Stone Elements

Stones such as gravel, pebbles, river rocks, marble rocks, and lava rocks are the first element that can not be separated in a small Japanese garden design. This key element not only provides a beautiful contrast to the plants and water, but stones also help for good soil drainage. Furthermore, in Japanese culture, stones also symbolize Earth, permanence, and eternity.

water and stones elements in Small Japanese Garden Ideas
water and stone elements in Small Japanese Garden Ideas

Water Elements 

The central element of any small Japanese garden idea is the water element. Water is essential for any zen garden as it is a fundamental thing for any living being’s existence. Not only will the water element add more charm to your small zen garden, but research also has found that hearing the sounds of splashing water could help you reduce stress! 

A Japanese-style fish pond with a touch of stones is usually used to create a water element in the zen garden. However, for smaller garden spaces, you can use small bamboo water fountains along with granite basins to achieve the same style.

Living Things Elements 

Living things such as fish and plants are the epitome of how humans should interact with their surroundings. The use of koi fish, the most used fish in Japanese-themed gardens, is not solely for no reason. The presence of this bright fish in the pond is to summons good luck, and prosperity, as well as a symbol of love. Other plant elements such as bamboo and bonsai can also be brought to make the small Japanese garden ideas more pleasing. We will talk more about Japanese-style plants in the next section.

Architecture Elements 

The key element that differentiates the zen garden from any other style of garden is the use of architecture. Minka house is a traditional Japanese building that is commonly found in the zen garden. With its bamboo doorways and wooden pillars, the traditional Minka house is not only aesthetically beautiful but also helps you create a tranquil atmosphere. For small Japanese garden ideas, an alternative of a smaller Minka house, stone seat, or wooden or bamboo chair is also conceivable.

Small Japanese Garden stone architecture

Another specific architectural element for the zen garden is the use of bridges. The arched wooden bridge, usually in red, brown, white, or darker shades of gray, helps you highlight the beauty of the koi pond or just simply add it as a pathway. To add a more dramatic look, place the Japanese traditional lanterns made of wood, stone, or metal, called ‘toro’, near the bridge and fish pond, or along the side of the pathways.

Pathways Elements

Small Japanese Garden stone pathway

Gravel paths, stone paths, and sand paths are the types of traditional pathways in Japanese-style gardens. These types of pathways are simple and suit the best to create minimalist-style gardens, inexpensive, and eco-friendly.

Suitable Plants For Small Japanese Garden Design

Incorporating a variety of plants is important for creating a harmonious and calm small Japanese garden. Some of the most popular plants for the Japanese style include bamboo, ferns, Japanese maple trees and shrubs, azaleas, moss, semi-aquatic Japanese irises, wisterias, bonsai, cherry blossom trees, pines, and aquatic plants like lotuses. These plants that are suitable for small Japanese garden ideas will add some more beauty and texture. Always double-check to find the best plant for your hardiness zone and do regular pruning as part of maintaining the zen garden.

Best Japanese Garden Ideas For Small Spaces  

Here is some inspiration to take on creating a small zen garden.

Bird’s Paradise

Small Japanese Garden Ideas

This Japanese garden style is designed as a home for our little winged friends. Utilize the use of a stone basin, and mini bamboo waterfall, and don’t forget to add some pebbles to create a more inviting look. Plant some ferns, bamboo, and a pot of tiny bonsai to give a contrast.

Spiritual Enlightenment

japanese house minka garden zen (1)

The key to creating a Japanese spiritual enlightenment garden style is to help those who love the tranquility of meditation and yoga. To make the perfect contemplating atmosphere, take advantage of the Minka house, which can be used as a tea party place or for practicing meditation. The installation of wooden pathways beside the fish pond, as long as there’s some space to roll out the yogi mat, is also enough. In addition to the small Japanese garden ideas, give a touch of nature with Japanese maple shrubs, hostas, or Japanese forest grass.

Radiance of Color

red bridge small japanese garden colorful

The easiest and simplest way to create a breathtaking zen garden is to play with color. Build a red-colored bridge to give a contrast to the gray stone waterfall. Bring cheerful colors like pink from the Japanese maple, or pure white color from lotuses to make the zen garden more alive.

Alluring Fish Home

Small Japanese Garden Ideas

As the name implies, creating a healthy environment for the fish is not just enough. Make their home look more pleasant and extravagant by planting some Japanese irises near the pond or the delicate water poppies. There are numerous safe and fish-friendly aquatic or semi-aquatic plants you can pick for the zen garden.

Bonsai Lover’s Space

Small Japanese Garden Ideas with bonsai

When talking about small Japanese garden ideas, it’s not complete without inviting one or more bonsai trees to your landscape. As the name suggests, bonsai is derived from the Japanese word for ‘planted in a container’, so this lovely plant doesn’t take up much space in your zen landscape! For beginners, it’s best to stick to a more low-maintenance bonsai such as juniper bonsai and ficus bonsai.

Small Japanese Garden Ideas: A Summary

To wrap things up, creating a small zen garden is an excellent way to bring a piece of nature and tranquility to your backyard. Some small Japanese garden ideas, including a space for bonsai lovers and a meditative place for doing yoga and meditation, are highly achievable with endless design possibilities. By selecting the right key elements and plants, you can create a calm environment to provide a sense of balance.

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