One of the great things about having a big backyard is that you have the space to get creative and do something really special. A Japanese themed garden can add an exotic flair to your backyard landscape. You don't have to be an expert in landscape design to get started, either. All that you really need is a good idea of what kind of plants, trees, and features fit with a Japanese garden theme and will grow well in your garden. You can get started by considering some of these suggestions.
Flowers and Groundcover
Japanese gardens are known for being very lush and green. Start with ferns, ornamental grasses, and bamboo for groundcover. Keep in mind that bamboo can be invasive and essentially take over your garden, so you'll want to take steps to keep it in check. Installing concrete or sheet metal barriers that are three or four feet deep can help keep running bamboo from spreading out of control. Be sure to choose a species of bamboo that can survive in your area's climate.
Moss is also a good addition to your garden, and it can help provide texture when allowed to grow over rocks and trees. Moss isn't difficult to grow, but it does require moisture and shade to really thrive.
For a bit of color, flowering shrubs like azaleas are a good choice. They're hardy plants that can grow in almost any type of garden, and they produce beautiful and bright flowers in the spring. Japanese irises are another good flower to choose for your garden. They should be planted in the fall, and they produce purple, blue, and white flowers. Japanese irises like boggy areas, so plant them near a water feature for best results.
It wouldn't be a Japanese garden without at least one Japanese maple tree. These beautiful trees have a dome-shaped canopy, and their leaves turn a dazzling red in the fall. Plant it in a spot that can be a focal point when the red foliage appears, and it will give your garden a striking appearance.
If you're interested in adding some bonsai trees to the landscape, the black pine makes an excellent bonsai tree that will perfectly complement a Japanese garden. Keep in mind that the care of a bonsai tree takes a lot of work, so you should only invest in bonsai black pines if you're willing to put in the time that's required to care for them.
Water fountains are symbols of spiritual cleansing, and they have an important place in Japanese gardens. A popular fountain design features a bamboo spout pouring water onto a rock. If you have the space for it, you might also consider putting in a small koi pond.
You may also want to put in rain chains, another common feature in Japanese gardens. Rain chains are an attractive alternative to a gutter downspout. They attach to your gutters and help rainwater move from the roof to the ground. You can use rain chains to guide the water into a container, and then use the container for watering your garden if you choose to.
Rocks and Decorations
Rocks are the anchors in a Japanese garden, and they should be placed in various spots around the garden, usually in groups of three. In Japanese philosophy, the rocks represent power and desire. The most popular rocks for Japanese garden are dark granite, and they should be in shapes that occur naturally, not carved.
While rocks and water features are important to a Japanese garden, most other decorations are eschewed, as the viewer's focus is supposed to be on the natural elements. However, it is common to add a stone lantern near a pond or another water feature.
As you can see, there are many different elements of Japanese gardens. You would be surprised by how well they all mesh with each other, as you'll see when you have them in place. Make sure to throw a garden party or barbecue when you're finished, so you have an excuse to show off your beautiful Japanese garden. Check out sites like http://cottonwoodland.com for more information.