Creating a Japanese Garden in a Small Area

A Japanese garden is not about creating the biggest or most glamorous garden, but rather a testament to purpose and simplicity. To create a true Japanese garden, it is essential to stay true to its culture and values. While common ideas like bridges or flowers may work, they do not belong to the traditional Japanese garden and instead belong to Chinese culture.

Therefore, it’s important to conduct extensive research on Japanese culture to properly incorporate authentic Japanese garden ideas into your small space.

Creating a Japanese Garden in a Small Area

Creating a Serene Japanese Garden in a Limited Space: Step-by-Step Guide

Japanese gardens are not only limited to big spaces, but they can also be created in small areas with the same principles and authenticity. Below are the steps you can follow to improve your Japanese garden ideas and make your dream garden a reality.

Choose a Style

When creating a small fancy tea garden or Roji, it’s important to have a clear idea of your desired theme and garden type. To simplify the process, we have provided a list of small garden types below.

Exploring Small Japanese Garden Styles

  1. Roji or Chaniwa – This type of garden is also known as a tea garden and is more popular outside Japan. You may have seen this structure in television shows and films.
  2. Tsubo-Niwa – This type of Japanese garden is known as a courtyard garden, which evolved as a solution to the need for a garden in limited areas or spaces.
  3. Kayushiki Teien – This type of Japanese garden is a surreal arrangement of bridges, plants, trees, ponds, and streams, and is known as a strolling garden. Guests can stroll through the various elements and find tranquility and peace within the garden’s serene atmosphere.
  4. Shoinzukuri Teien – This type of Japanese garden is often called a meditation garden, where the focus is on creating a serene and peaceful environment that encourages contemplation and introspection.

The theme of your garden should be able to express who you are and the level of comfort it brings you.

Exploring Small Japanese Garden Styles

Marking the Space

We understand that Japanese gardens can be created in small spaces, but it’s important to choose a specific area in your yard or backyard that you want to utilize for your garden.

Create an Architectural Plan

Once you have finalized all the natural elements that you want to include in your garden, it is time to incorporate them into the construction plan. The arrangement and view of the garden are equally important, so careful planning is necessary.

Symbolism in Small Japanese Gardens

Remember that you are creating a Japanese garden. Everything that you choose to incorporate into your design must be in accordance with Zen philosophy and must also have an aesthetic appeal.

Using Natural Materials

As the Japanese garden is based on Zen principles, it emphasizes natural elements. To enclose the area, you can use bamboo sticks to build a fence that aligns with the garden’s meaningful design. Bamboo is a renewable resource, which makes it ideal for incorporating nature into a crafted space.

Using Natural Materials

Creating Stone Pathways

When considering the elements that embody the Zen philosophy in your garden, small stone pathways that wind past concrete statues are a great option. These pathways are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, symbolizing the journey that lies ahead while also honoring the past. This is a beautiful way to approach life and incorporate these cultural elements into your garden design.

Choosing the Right Plants

It is not necessary to include a lot of plants in your Japanese garden. Instead, using essential plants like moss or crawling plants can help create a garden that is influenced by Japanese culture. These plants are easy to maintain and help maintain the overall concept of the garden.

Incorporating Water Elements

A Japanese garden is incomplete without an element of water. Typically, a pond or a waterfall is included in the design, but that may not be possible in a small space. In such cases, a stone water basin can be included as a substitute.

Incorporating Water Elements

Choosing Evergreen Plants

Japanese gardens adhere to the principle of staying close to nature. Therefore, it is recommended to include mostly evergreen plants such as pines, boxwood, moss, or holly. It is not necessary to have large plants, and you can even include bonsais.

Designing with People in Mind

Japanese gardens are designed to create a sense of belonging for people. Including trees that are too tall, such as those reaching 90 feet, can make humans appear smaller and go against the Japanese cultural principles for garden design.


It is important to enclose your garden space so that you can achieve the peace that is expected from a Japanese garden. Additionally, no one wants to hear their neighbor’s arguments while trying to relax among the plants and the sound of water. As mentioned earlier, you can create an enclosed space using materials such as bamboo sticks or other suitable materials.



Once your Japanese garden is complete, it is important to take proper care of it. Regular pruning and maintenance will help it to evolve into an authentic and well-maintained space.

Remember, it is possible to create an authentic Japanese garden even in a small space, as long as you incorporate all the fundamental steps and characteristics mentioned above. Make sure you are not missing out on any of the essential elements, as they all contribute to the overall authenticity of your garden.

Advantages of Creating a Small Japanese Garden

  1. Low Maintenance: While many people might think that maintaining a Japanese garden is easy, it can actually be quite challenging. However, if you have a small garden, it will be easier to water, prune plants, and take care of other necessary tasks.
  2. Aesthetics on Point: A small Japanese garden can definitely enhance the beauty of the exterior of a home. The use of natural elements like plants, stones, and water can create a serene and calming atmosphere, adding to the overall appeal of the home. Additionally, the use of different colors and textures can create a visually striking and unique garden design.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle with a Zen: Tea and mint are excellent options for small Japanese gardens as they not only add aesthetic value but also have health benefits. Tea contains antioxidants and has calming properties, while mint is known to aid digestion and freshen breath. Including such plants in a small Japanese garden can enhance the overall experience and promote well-being.
  4. Family Time: Indeed, a small Japanese garden can be an excellent spot for spending time with family and friends. It provides a peaceful and relaxing environment where you can sit, chat, and enjoy nature. Additionally, working together in the garden can be a great way to bond with your family, teaching kids about plants and the importance of taking care of the environment.

Bottom line

The main point is that all the essential elements that make up a Japanese garden do not require a large area. Although it may be challenging to incorporate all the elements, with careful consideration and proper planning, everything can fit in.

A well-designed small Japanese garden can be a wonderful gift to yourself. We hope this guide has been helpful, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

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