I swear I think I start every post these days with, “Now that it’s almost summer…” But the thought of the new season is just making me too excited to sit still, and I’m sort of using it as my excuse to get out and do big things (as you might have seen in action yesterday).
One other thing at the top of my summer to-do list is getting our landscaping in gear. John and I are pretty new to yard upkeep since our last house was part of a townhome HOA that had its own landscaping crew, but we’ve really had the chance to hone in on our own personal style over the last three years of owning our own single family home.
Do you remember the zen-inspired garden we created a year or two ago? Well, that acted as our unofficial jumping off point, and has really set the course for our landscaping plans. In a nutshell, we tend to appreciate a simple aesthetic with lots of sculptural plants that don’t take a lot of maintenance, other than trimming a few times per season. We also love using white rocks instead of mulch because (1) it’s permanent and we only have to do it once, and (2) it gives a high contrast look to our yard.
Without really meaning to, we ended up committing to what I’m characterizing as a “Japanese” aesthetic. I’m obviously no expert and I have no green thumb to boast of, but I find that, more often than not, every type of plant and design feature we gravitate toward is inspired by a minimalist Japanese look.
Our plan is to take a few weekends between now and the prime autumn planting season to rip out the stuff we inherited in our lawn that we’re not so keen on to make way for these types of Asian-inspired plants and yard features. John and I spent one Sunday last month wandering around our property chatted through some options, and I think we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do.
With that vision in mind, we drove out to Ivy Nursery, about 25 minutes away, to look at some plants in person. We had never been to this particular nursery before but I had seen it on a few of my favorite local Instagramers’ feeds, so I thought it would be fun to give it a shot. Turns out an afternoon at the local nursery is a really fun date idea because we had a blast!
Anyway, the whole point of this post is to pass along the ideas we’ve been brainstorming in case you, too, are considering some landscaping switch-ups. To reiterate, we don’t consider ourselves experts of any kind, but it’s exciting to dream, and we’re happy to take you guys along for the ride as we experiment with different Japanese-inspired ideas and design features. Scroll on for a breakdown of what we’ve come up with so far.
Japanese Landscaping Ideas To Consider
1. Simple, clean lines: Probably the easiest way to give your yard an Asian aesthetic is by simplifying your plants and garden beds. The hallmark of Japanese gardens is the idea of simple, clean lines, so first purge excess bushes and branches in order to start fresh.
2. Subdued color palette: When it comes time to add new growth back in, focus your choices on soothing shades of green. Rely on plants that feature a range of textures to add interest rather than those with bold color. For example, you could try surrounding the base of a few ornamental trees with hostas, and edge garden beds with long, leafy grass to soften the lines.
3. Think sculptural: You’ve probably noticed that the trees in Japanese gardens are often pruned into shapes for an architectural look. That’s my favorite part of our plans. We’re focusing our hunt on trees that have pyramidal type forms or low, spreading branches—specifically maple trees and leyland cypress. Just keep in mind that this is the area where regular, more frequent maintenance will be required.
4. Incorporate slate and rocks: Our home actually came outfitted by the previous homeowners with gravely garden beds, and we’ve happily kept the aesthetic up. Again, it’s super low-maintenance, but it also gives the yarn a simplified look. We’re planning to fill the rest of our garden beds with white rocks or pebbles, and may even take things so far as to include a little area for raked gravel around stones to really bring the “zen” vibe home.
5. Consider a water feature: Speaking of going all out, I’d love to eventually add a small fish pond to the yard. While researching Japanese landscaping ideas, I found that water features were almost always at the top of the list because they offer so many reflective elements (both figurative and literal!). I haven’t told John about this idea, though, and I have a feeling he’s going to think it’s beyond our ability—he’s probably right, but a girl can dream.
So, what do you think? Are we crazy to imagine we can do this as beginners? Have you tried out any kind of Asian or Japanese gardening ideas? If you have, I’d love to hear about your experience, so please share your feedback and ideas in the comments below. As always, we’ll definitely take you through the entire process and share before and after photos of our progress later this fall once we actually get down to planting. Wish us luck!