Japanese gardens have been around for hundreds of years and combine simple, natural elements such as water, stone, sand and plants to create a tranquil, Zen sanctuary. The way these various elements are employed in relation to one another brings about a miniaturized version of nature. The designs of these gardens are based on three principles: reduced scale, symbolization, and borrowed view.

Rock Gardens

Waterless rock and sand gardens portray scenes of mountain views and rivers. The sand and gravel is raked into careful patterns to symbolize rivers while the rocks represent mountains. The grouping can be done randomly or in patterns but tradition says stones should be placed in odd numbers. Placing these gardens in existing scenery brings about the illusion of seeing mountains from a distance.

You don’t need a large outdoor space to add a rock garden to your home. Below you can see a glass enclosed rock garden in this home that unifies the living space with nature. Note the careful patterns in the sand and how they create the illusion of a river. If you are looking for something smaller, you can buy the desk-top rock garden seen below which can be found and purchased online.

Moss Gardens

Japanese gardens often utilize moss because of its versatility and resilience. Moss is able to survive and remain green even in harsh conditions, including severe cold and drought. Moss has remained a crucial element in Japanese gardens because it is considered a peaceful plant.

As you can see in this design, square sections of moss are alternated with square stones to create a chessboard effect.

Moss can also be spread out throughout the garden space whether it is surrounding a structure or a body of water.

Adequate shade is required for moss to really flourish, but some sunlight is fine. Moss should be grown in an area with adequate moisture, shade, humidity, and a soil pH of 5.0-5.5. In order to grow your own moss garden, three steps should be taken after purchasing living moss, which can also be found online.

1. Select a great location for your garden with medium to dense shading – direct sunlight should be avoided.

2. The pH of the soil should be tested, and then if necessary brought up to the desired level with liquid sulfur powder suspension mixed with water, sprayed on the soil where moss will be placed.

3. Since moss loves humidity, regular misting is important after transplanting moss which should continue for at least the first three weeks.

Source: www.home-designing.com

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I suggest you take photos now and every 3-6 months for a couple of years. Vines (in very large containers) make a nice backdrop and add vertical interest. Recommended by our resident Landscape Designer, AnitaMoCompost: For myself, I think Wisteria is so gorgeous that it's worth the mess and effort!! Hardenbergia is a gorgeous, evergreen vine that blooms in late winter. Photo:
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