Planting a Japanese garden is a great way of breaking from the expected. Not only can having a Japanese garden add something unique to your landscape, but it can also be a relaxing, breath-taking place, in synch with all the beauty of nature. A major difference between a Japanese garden and a more traditional garden in America is the selection of plants. Your Japanese garden should use plants that could grow in Japan but also where you live, and should use the keystone plants that make a garden traditionally Japanese.


Trees are important in a Japanese garden. Not so much in quantity, but in placement. They should be focal points, scattered in different areas of the garden where they can stand out from the nearby surrounding plants. Trees to consider for your Japanese garden are the ever-popular Japanese maple and cherry blossom, but also Japanese magnolias and evergreens like the Hinoki Cypress and various Japanese Pines.

Flowering Plants

The key with flowering plants in a Japanese garden is to keep them to a color scheme. Your garden will largely be comprised of lush greens, browns and reds. Flowers and trees are the only plants that can add a little color and this color must be selectively chosen. Keeping to whites and light pinks will keep the garden in line with the traditional. Some flowering plants to consider are azaleas, rhododendron and dichondra. Dichondra, though technically a flowering plant, lays low to the ground and can be used like moss or as an alternative to moss. Also, water features are a staple of the Japanese garden, and should you choose to add one, a lotus flower adds interest.


Shrubs add texture to your garden and can make it more lush. The important thing with shrubs and flowering plants is to not overdo it. A Japanese garden is anything but a cluttered place and it is important that you do not over plant. Some shrubs you can plant are heavenly bamboos and the aforementioned azaleas.


Tall grasses stand above many of the plants around them and give interest. Try a sky-high giant reed grass or a stouter mondo grass.


Though scotch moss or just a regular moss is a hallmark of Japanese gardens and looks great weaving through stone pathways, other plants can do the job as well. Mondo grass and dichondra, if trimmed and placed right, look great between stones and plants.


Of course, bamboo is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of a Japanese garden, however, this is one to be careful with. Bamboo cannot be sold legally in some states. If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase bamboo, plant it sparingly and keep an eye on it, as they are invasive plants.


Though rocks and stones are not plants, they are an important part of the Japanese garden landscape and work hand-in-hand with the plants around them. Adding clusters of low-laying rocks near planted areas or ponds, or adding a stone pathway are both great ideas.

Getting the plants right for a Japanese garden is important, but not the only way you can make your yard pop. These gardens use accessories other than plants, such as bridges, statues if you choose, stones, stone lanterns and water basins. Having your garden planned out and landscaped well is, as always, infinitely important. Let us help with that and make your dream of a Japanese garden a reality.

At Schroeder’s Garden Design, we can help you create the oasis you dream of! We guarantee all plants and irrigation for three years. Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

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