Japanese Garden Design 101

Get to know the elements of a Japanese garden—including which plants grow well in San Diego—and add some Eastern influence to your own landscape

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If you’re looking to add some Eastern influence into your landscape, there are a few key components you should consider, including which plants grow well in the San Diego climate. Get to know the elements of a Japanese garden:


Water symbolizes renewal, calm, wonder and continuity. It can be used in many forms such as ponds, streams or fountains.

japanese garden design style san diegoStones

Special attention is given to stones, stone formations and rock arrangements in Eastern philosophy as they represent the duration and omnipresence of the forces of nature. They function as reliefs and sculptures in gardens.


Light from the glow of lanterns helps guide nocturnal visitors in the garden.


People are invited by bridges to linger in one place—over the pond watching the carp, for instance. They are often constructed of wood, bamboo or stone but always designed to be in harmony with the rest of the landscape.


Great care and intention are given to plants in a traditional Japanese garden. Some favorites that grow in San Diego include pale serviceberry (Amelanchier pallida), a shrub; pines like the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana), Monterey pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) and the ornamental Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa); Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) varieties like ‘Hogyoku,’ ‘Beni Kawa’ or ‘Beni Schichihenge’; lotus, iris, peony (the Itoh peonies can grow here); horsetail reed; crabapple (Malus); and Vireya rhododendron.

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Categories: Gardening, Home Design