Q: What are elements of 'Japanese' landscape design?

A: Japanese landscapes, standing proud among the world's truly great landscapes, are praised for their ability to calm and relax anyone fortunate enough to view them! They are gardens of serene beauty, renowned for causing a profound sense of well being and countless moments of quiet introspection. Whether located in a rural or urban area, a Japanese garden enables a person to escape to a place of peace and tranquility.

There is, however, no mystery behind these man-made wonders. There are no secrets behind their creation. Simply, Japanese landscapes and gardens rely upon principles and practices that have been refined across centuries of Japanese history. Fortunately, a Japanese inspired garden need not be 'Japanese' in the literal sense. It is not necessary to adorn a 'Japanese' garden with stone pagodas, bells or bamboo, though of course they can be. Japanese landscape design is about creating harmony among all elements and features of a garden. In a Japanese garden one is hard pressed to find discord; everything seems to belong, to be an integral part of the whole. There is no 'dead space', there is no single feature that dominates the garden.

Generally, all landscaping materials are well represented: stone, wood, water, and plants. The materials are carefully presented for optimum effect, each beautiful alone or as part of the whole. Each material compliments or enhances the others. You will often find curves more than angles, and a careful balance of the symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Whole books have been written about Japanese landscape design, and it is not possible to write at such length here, but the most important thing to remember is that Japanese landscape design can be every bit as successful here as it is in Japan! Applying these principles to a Texas garden brings out the natural and unique beauty found in our Texas climate.