My clients here are a wonderfully eclectic pair- kids, grandkids, etc. But they have lived in the past in Japan and harbor a deep love of Japanese gardens. (And who doesn't??) But these two also have the unique experience of actually living in Japan, not just visiting or reading the occasional book. They are also fair gardeners. When you look at the pictures, you'll see that Roger and Sharon are also good craftspeople! They built the pond more than a decade ago (at least 15 years they said), Roger built the Tojo gate, they laid the stepping stones themselves. As well, they installed all the plants and mulch and the extensive drip irrigation system!
First step in the process was speaking with my clients, extensively, about their needs and wants. Who would use this? How would this be enjoyed? What activities are going to be done in the back yard? In their case, as well, they had purchased trees, had the existing pond and a small retaining wall/ berm. The idea was to create a cozy, enclosed and private backyard that minimized some of the outside interference. They also wanted a separation from their small lawn into the garden area with a gate.
From there, I researched Japanese design elements. I knew many Japanese garden favorites. But it's always important to shift plant choices to the climate and culture of the garden where they will live. Roger and Sharon have a backyard that faces east.
Important elements for me: rock, wood, evergreens, groundcover plants, a curved path. We have no gravel or sand. But we have a body of water and the curved rock path. We also have a bamboo gate.
Hand colored design: