How to create a modern Japanese garden

Modern Japanese gardens, how to get the zen right time and time again.

garden design

I often get asked to create a modern Japanese garden. The trend towards Japanese gardens has started becoming very fashionable in the last 10 to 20 years. Many people loved the simplicity of an Asiatic style of space and wanted to replicate it in their own urban patch. Personally I can find Japanese gardens twee and unless executed properly and cared for diligently they can turn into downbeat rather than retreat.

Here I give you some tips to create jaw dropping Modern Japanese garden space.

modern Japanese garden

Modern Japanese Garden


How do paths give structure to a garden? Keep them simple. Allow them to create mystery by masking the end of the garden or make the user turn the corner to another garden area. Legend has it zigzag paths open pathways to protect you from spirits. Spirits can only travel in straight lines. Here the path passes concrete statues, disappears around the corner and isn’t visible from the main house.


Focus on texture and shape. The art of Japanese planting is it’s simplicity. Go for a monochromatic green colour palette. Flowers work to highlight the green, making the garden feel balanced. This is what gives modern Japanese gardens the calming appeal. Here we used white to create an uplifting and yet relaxing scheme. Box hedges and box balls were used to create restraint and order.


Water in the modern Japanese garden is essential. Make it flowing. Add plenty of texture but include rocks, pebbles and gravel. Traditional Japanese gardens often use bridges and dry river beds. Here we use the pathway to cross pebbles to create an authentic feeling with a modern twist.


Think tea houses or a private pavilion. Use structures in the garden to add drama. Keep it simple and try and partially obscure it. Make it inviting and intimate. Bend the rules here in order that it doesn’t become trite.


A fabulous opportunity to rip up the rulebook and take it to a new level. Rather than opting for traditional designs we use this opportunity to work with reflection by using a lot of black Perspex screens. It’s great at giving depth and reflection but also hide the utility area behind. Screens are essential.


Statues are an artful addition to any modern Japanese garden. Ideally they need to have a connection to nature, be simple but also add plenty of texture.

If you live in London, or the south-east you can possibly attend of our garden design workshops. Please visit our sister company, From Bud to Bloom.