The Elements of a Relaxing Japanese Landscape Design

Beyond simple lighting and rose gardens, many homeowners prefer to inject a particular style into their landscape design. And one of the most popular designs is the Asian-inspired Japanese garden. Japanese gardens are beautiful and can add a relaxing oasis to any home.

Homeowners who work long hours or deal with high stress situations need a place of solace. Imagine coming home from a chaotic day at work and sitting next to rolling ponds, tranquil water features and an overall peaceful atmosphere. The elements of a Japanese garden incorporate the materials found in nature and arrange them to enhance nature’s beauty. With a Japanese-inspired garden you will feel the relaxation nature provides while seeing your garden in its most natural form.

Whether you want to create a full-blown Japanese landscape design or simply add a few elements, any additions will help to create a more tranquil atmosphere.

Here are some elements of Japanese landscape design:

  • Water features – Water features are a major part of Japanese design. Fountains and Asian-themed water features will add a zen-like feel, and nod to mother nature by using natural elements in their best light.
  • Hills – Use soil or gravel to create small hills or mounds and surround them with foliage
  • Paths – Crate a path in between the mounds and take it around your entire garden. The paths can be defined by any element whether grass, soil or stones. The paths are meant to create walkways for your visitors and also lead to features in your garden.
  • Contemplation gardens– Contemplation gardens represent zen areas that act as places of refuge. People should feel a sense of peace and relaxation when they enter your zen area. Keep bold colors out of the mix and use serene, calming hues. Foliage should be minimal so weed pulling is not a factor. Whatever makes you feel calm while keeping the space easily maintained will create the perfect backdrop for your contemplation garden.
  • Rocks– Rocks are an integral component of Japanese garden design. They form the structure of the garden and keep the natural elements intact. Gear boulders and rocks into the ground so they stay in place and maintenance is minimal. Use smaller stones as elements to lead the eye to different areas and pebbles to line the bottom of your water features. Use stepping stones to form walkways and the path that leads to your contemplation garden. The characteristics of the rocks are also important. Smooth surfaces are generally not used on higher surfaces like hills and mounds and rougher stones would not be placed in streams. Smooth stones work perfectly in flowing streams or ponds and mimic the gentle waves of the water.

Your Japanese garden should be your oasis into a calm and inviting place. Remember to keep the foliage to a minimum and concentrate on using natural elements to create walkways, walls, hills and streams. Every time you use a man-made element you depart further away from the true ideals of the Japanese garden. Use your creativity and the beauty of the earth around you to give life to a relaxing oasis and a cherished element of your home’s landscape.


Outdoor Deck Lighting Tips for your Landscape Design

Whether for a late night party with friends and family or a relaxing summer evening with a hot cup of tea, the deck is long known as a place of entertainment and relaxation for all.

Summer bashes and cool fall nights provide the perfect ambience for a perfectly lit deck. Your lighting should be sufficient enough to set the mood without overpowering the glare of the beautiful star-lit night sky.

Your deck lighting is an important component of your outdoor space. Without lighting, the cloudy nights will make your deck off limits to visitors and invisible to all who want to see and experience its function and beauty. If your deck is one that should be showcased, learning how to light it properly will transform it into a treasured space.

Low Voltage Lighting

Low voltage lighting would be your best choice for deck lighting. Not only are these lights kind on your energy bill, but they also provide a safe way to illuminate key areas in your design landscape. Choices like the Tulip Light are perfect to illuminate a path leading up to the deck which is great for late night parties or lighting pathways in the dark. These lights are 9” – 12” in height and will help to guide people from the front of the house to the back deck area by lining all pathways with decorative yet functional lights. Highlight steps and entry areas around the deck as well to prevent safety issues.

Flood Lights

Flood lights are also a good choice for deck lighting. They provide more light than path lighting and can illuminate the high-trafficked areas. You can aim flood lights in any direction upward or downward depending on their purpose. If you are lighting the deck, be careful not to position them so that they shine in people’s faces. This not only is a safety hazard, but it also will annoy your guests and possibly your neighbors. You can also use flood lights to highlight railings if you have stairs connected to your deck.

Specialty Lighting

If you have one feature on your deck you want to highlight like a piece of artwork or an elegant statue, consider a specialty light that will focus brightness on a small area. Use small deck lights that can be attached to railings to enhance brightness without overpowering any other deck lighting.

The Overall Picture

Use your deck lighting as a “spill over” of light into the areas needing it rather than directly shining on the deck’s surface. Your deck lighting should provide safety in the dark while enhancing the features you have without overpowering them with brightness. In contrast, if your deck lacks the proper amount of lighting, you will experience safety hazards as well as uneven highlights and shadows. Experiment with the design and consult a professional if need be. Once you see the beauty of an outdoor deck in the moonlight, you will understand how important deck lighting is to your overall landscape design.

Do-It-Yourself Tips for a Beautiful Landscape

DIY landscapes are the pride and joy of hardworking homeowners. Because so much care goes into the landscape design, homeowners are intent on creating the perfect yard that delights their senses and impresses anyone who graces its presence.

Some DIY landscape designers are complete novices while others have a “green thumb” and are ready to go with bells on. Regardless of the experience, homeowners who use their own blood, sweat, and tears are dedicated to beautifying their landscapes and applying the effort required to fulfill their dream of a landscape design.

Here are some DIY tips to help you turn your landscaping dreams into a reality:

Seasonal Interest

Novice landscape designers easily forget about catering to the four seasons with their foliage. If you want to create a year-round masterpiece, use plants that will last in the cold months of the fall. The spring and summer will do well with flowering plants, while structural elements are perfect for the winter.

Don’t forget about Annuals

Perennial flowers are often the material of choice because they come in so many beautiful shapes, styles and sizes. Unfortunately, perennials only bloom for specified periods of times. If you don’t fill your garden with annuals that bloom all year round you will have empty spaces in your garden. Consider annuals to fill in the spaces when your perennials are not blooming.

More than Flowers

DIY landscapers are so enthusiastic about flowers and plants, they forget about the additional elements that pull a landscape together. Hardscape features provide the majority of the beauty of the winter landscape and offer a stunning backdrop for your spring and summer blooms. Consider fences, patios and decks along with arbors and other hardscape features that can connect your indoor environment with your outdoor space and frame your yard beautifully.


DIY landscapers are concerned with the maintenance of their yard. They do not want to hire a professional but sometimes the maintenance is more than they bargained for. Before you break out the hefty equipment, research low-maintenance flowers, plants and features that will still beautify your yard, but not require countless hours to maintain.

Water Features

Along with hardscapes, water features add intrigue and interest to every landscape. Water features serve as focal points and offer a “zen-like” aura, creating a relaxing vibe and overall calm feeling. Water features are not difficult to install. If you are a novice, start with a small fountain and work up to a waterfall when you feel confident. Consult a professional if you need the assistance.

Flower Planning

Prepare for the scorching summer sun by using drought-tolerant plants. The worse experience for a DIY landscaper is to plant beautiful flowers in the spring only to see them sun-scorched in the summer.

Also, take notice of the space where you plant the flowers. Each area will have its own soil and light requirements. Pay close attention to the external elements of your yard and which areas receive the most light. Choose your flowers accordingly.

Ready to take on your beautifying yard project? The completed landscape is a DIY landscaper’s dream come true. All the hard work and effort will be worth it every time you step outside into your backyard oasis.