Japanese Water Garden Designs & Features

Japanese Water Garden Designs & Features

Free Japanese water and rock gardens designs. The elements and features of the Japanese water garden had an important influence on Craftsman styles. Stickley here goes over the main points needed to create a Japanese garden.

¶ We have to acknowledge our indebtedness to the Japanese for more inspiration in matters of art and architecture than most of us can realize, and in no department of art is the realization of subtle beauty that lies in simple and unobtrusive things more valuable to us as home makers than the suggestions they give us as to the arrangement and design of our gardens.

¶ With our national impulsiveness, we are too apt to go a step beyond the inspiration and attempt direct imitation, which is a pity, because the inevitable failure that must necessarily attend such mistaken efforts will do more than anything else to discourage people with the idea of trying to have a Japanese garden. But if we once get the idea into our heads that the secret of the whole thing lies in the exquisite sense of proportion that enables a Japanese to produce the effect of a whole landscape within the compass of a small yard, there is some hope of our being able to do the same thing in our own country and in our own way.


¶ Our idea of a garden usually includes a profusion of flowers and ambitious looking shrubs, but the Japanese is less obvious. He loves flowers and has many of them, but the typical Japanese garden is made up chiefly of stones, ferns, dwarf trees and above all water. It may be only a little water, a tiny, trickling stream not so large as that which would flow from a small garden hose. But, given this little stream, the Japanese gardener, or the American gardener who once grasps the Japanese idea, can do wonders. He can take that little stream, which represents an amount of water costing at the outside about three dollars a month, and can so direct it that it pours over piles of rocks in tiny cascades, forming pool after pool, and finally shaping its course through a miniature river into a clear little lake. If it is a strictly Japanese garden, both river and lake will be bridged and the stream will have as many windings as possible, to give a chance for a number of bridges. Also it will have temple lanterns of stone, bronze storks and perhaps a tiny image of Buddha.

American Style Japanese Gardens

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden.
A part of a Japanese garden owned by John S. Bradstreet, of Minneapolis. an excellent example of how rocks, dwarf trees and a tiny stream of water may if used to make a highly decorative effect.

¶ But in the American garden we need none of these features, unless indeed we have space enough so that a portion of the grounds may be devoted to a genuine Japanese garden like the one shown in the pictures. This indeed might have been picked up in Japan and transplanted bodily to America, for it is the garden of Mr. John S. Bradstreet, of Minneapolis, who is a lover of all things Japanese and has been in Japan many times. This garden occupies a space little more than one hundred feet in diameter, and yet the two photos we give are only glimpses of its varied charm. They are chosen chiefly because they picture the use that can be made of a small stream of water so placed that it trickles over a pile of rocks. The effect produced is that of a mountain glen, and so perfect are the proportions and so harmonious the arrangement that there is no sense of incongruity in the fact that the whole thing is on such a small scale.

Japanese Water Garden with Fountain
Japanese Water Garden with Fountain.
Another part of the same Japanese garden showing bridges made of water worn teak wood taken from an old junk. The fountain, pile of rocks, and dwarf trees are seen from a different angle.

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