A serene and tranquil Japanese inspired garden

The challenge

The owners of this plain square garden in Oakham, Rutland wanted us to work our magic and turn a dull outdoor space into a Japanese inspired landscape.

This was a fun project as we could incorporate lots of pretty features – in miniature. Each small ornament, plant and pebble worked together to create a very different type of garden.

The concept

One of the highlights of this garden is a bamboo-style water funnel that drops onto a natural rock waterfall. This runs from the highest level of the garden to link with a small pond area. It’s a delightful feature brings life and sound to the garden.

Over the miniature pond, we built a small timber bridge with stepping stones on either side. The bridge and the stones link the two decking platforms and act as a focal point in the centre of the garden.

The two decking platforms create new, spacious patio and seating areas. To give them maximum support we used a pressure treated framework fixed to timber posts. These posts were then concreted approximately 450mm into the ground to form a solid structure.

For the retaining walling, we used pressure treated sleepers to form new levels that flow around the garden. The sleepers are backed with a damp proof membrane to prevent water sitting on the back of the timber.

To soften the look and add some greenery to the design, we installed an artificial lawn. Inset into this miniature lawn we planted a small tree surrounded by flat pebbles and a shorter greener shrub to sit opposite.

The Japanese planting scheme was devised after a site visit from our Soft Landscaping Designer, who specialises in planting consultations. She provides advice and ideas and comes up with innovative concepts.

As part of the design, a geotextile membrane was laid beneath gravels, cobbles and pebbles that were then spread around the garden. The differing sizes, textures and colours of the cobbles and pebbles offers a contrasting pattern around the garden.

We reused the paving that had previously been in the garden and re-laid it at the side of the house on full mortar beds and grouted using a resin-based grouting compound to prevent weeds growing between the joints.

  The conclusion

This unusual Japanese-themed garden was a joy to design. As we started with a fairly blank canvass, our only constraint was how to work with the slightly different levels of the garden. We overcame this by using the sleepers as retaining walls to divide the garden into sections.

By using contrasting gravels and cobbles, we were able to produce a varied landscape that became a backdrop for the many features such as the small lawn and tiny wooden bridge.

With the eye-catching waterfall and pond as the focal highlight, this garden has plenty of visual interest. Coupled with this, it also has the movement of water to bring motion and sound so that the overall impression of the garden is of relaxation and tranquillity.

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