Japanese Garden with raked gravel and Chokushi-Mon

Japanese Garden Design. Zen and the art of Garden Maintenance.

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Japanese Garden Design

The design of the Japanese garden evokes the feeling of peace and tranquillity. These gardens are not only beautiful, but they are practical too. The gravel allows rain to seep into soil and nearby plant roots thereby saving you water.To get the full impact of the colour contrast of the Japanese Garden, you probably need to be in or around Mount Tamborine, but there are still some aspects of Japanese Garden design we can enjoy in the warm climate of the Gold Coast. Japanese garden design made a strong influence on landscape design and landscape architecture in the early 1900s in California, so there is no reason why it would not work in South East Queensland.

A Chokushi-Mon or Gateway

A Chokushi-Mon or Gateway. Built in 1910, this one in the RHS Kew gardens is based on the Gate of Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto, Japan.


Often the word Zen is associated with Japanese gardens. Zen is a school of east asian buddhism. In modern times, Zen has been identified more with the secular arts of medieval Japan. These include the tea ceremony, ink painting, and gardening.

Raked Pattern Gravel with Rhododendron ‘Mothers’ Day’ and he Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida).

Raked Pattern Gravel with Rhododendron ‘Mothers’ Day’ and the Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida).


Much of the zen doctrine is based on mediatation, so is not surprising that traditional Japanese gardens are designed for peaceful contemplation. Whilst the primary focus of an Oriental garden is nature, there are elements of a Japanese garden that also symbolize the natural elements.An example of this is the stone lamp and other items of Japanese Garden decor.

Japanese Garden Design with Racked Pattern Gravel with rocks, grasses and low shrubs

Japanese Garden Design Pattern Gravel with rocks, grasses and low shrubs. Designed by Professor Fukuhara of Osaka University using adapted garden styles from the Momayama period.


Ornaments, plants, rocks stones and water are the main elements used in Japanese Garden Design. The elements are often arranged asymmetrically in an enclosed space. Rocks are placed in groups or individually to highlight their colour, form and texture. Nearby shrubs create contrast in both colour and texture with the rocks. Simple and natural paving materials including natural slate paving, exposed aggregate, gravel or stones. Straight lines and edges such as footpaths and decking can be softened with ground covers and low shrubs. Japanese garden decor is often incorporated into the garden. These include Koi ponds, stone lanterns, bamboo water spouts, rain chains, waterfalls and stone basins. Larger gardens sometimes incorporate an arched bridge as a design feature.

Japanese Garden Design Zen Path

Curvilinear Japanese garden design in this natural stone zen path with gravel and a stone lantern.

In cooler climates, plant selection will often include cherry trees and maples which put on a fantastic display of colour in the Autumn. The one aspect most often associated with Japanese gardens in the sub-tropics however, is the pattern gravel. These are raked stones, sand or gravel in wave patterns. Compared to a lawn, these beautiful spaces will save on water and maintenance. Flowers and Australian native plants, especially ground covers, can also be incorporated into the design. In this way, you can create a Japanese Australian design fusion.

Japanese Garden with raked Checkerboard pattern gravel.

Japanese Garden with raked Checkerboard pattern gravel.

For more information on our garden design services go to http://redslandscaping.com.au/design/

For more of our gardening blogs go to http://redslandscaping.com.au/blog/

For information on the Mount Tamborine Japanese garden to http://tmbotanicgardens.org.au/japanese-garden/

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