Asian Design Inspiration for Your Backyard

Do the elements of tranquility, simplicity and balance appeal to you? If so, an Asian garden, which reflects these characteristics, might just be the ticket. Discover how you can create a serene retreat at home with the following tips.

An Overview

The elegant beauty and serenity of Asian-style gardens emerges from careful selection and placement of natural elements such as stone, water and greenery. Design is driven by textural contrasts rather than color, which tend to be simple, rich greens and browns. Luxurious foliage is layered to enhance the movement of energy through the landscape.

Focus on Foliage

The base of any great garden design is evergreen color and structure. Start the Asian garden with texturally-diverse evergreen shrubs in varying hues of green. The dark needles of Yewtopia® Plum Yew contrast with the softer tones of Baby Gem™ Boxwood and ‘Lemon Lime’ Nandina, while the strappy leaves of ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia provide the delicate look of bamboo without the maintenance headaches. Let fine- and medium-textured foliage dominate. 

Build in Layers

Asian gardens mimic nature and incorporate the layered effect of woodlands. The Japanese maple is a cornerstone of Asian gardens, yielding height, texture and color. Other landscape trees and shrubs can be used to provide this upper structural layer. Empress of China® Dogwood provides evergreen color as well as canopy structure. Tall shrubs such as October Magic® Inspiration Camellia give height to the garden. The ground layer is also important.  Again, incorporate multiple textures through plants such as ferns, spurge and Cleopatra™ Liriope.

Limit Color

A bit of discipline must be practiced when adding color to Asian gardens. Color is used sparingly so as not to disrupt the clarity of the garden. Color may be introduced through foliage and is often found in accent plants, such as the Japanese maple. Foliage color may also be used to highlight a focal point, such as a ground layer of Purple Pixie® Loropetalum or Flirt™ Nandina underlining a small statue. Flower color is typically fleeting, with seasonal bursts from peonies, azaleas or rhododendrons. The Southgate® Rhododendron Series offers hardy selections for bringing the Asian garden to life in the Deep South.

Sense of Enclosure

Many Asian gardens are enclosed by a wall, whether living or manmade. Create a wall of green around the garden with tall shrubs such as Bigfoot™ Cleyera, or for smaller spaces, the streamlined ‘Scarlet’s Peak’ Holly. Wood and stone are also used to create garden walls.  Consider accentuating the Asian style with a horizontally aligned wooden wall or bamboo fence. 

Less is More

This old adage is the key to successfully creating an Asian aesthetic. Design with a light hand, allowing the natural beauty of your location to shine through. Incorporate local stone in the form of gravel and boulders. Stone can be used to strike a balance between empty and filled space by replacing greenery under accent trees or shrubs. Limit the types of materials and plants in your design to avoid clutter. When designing an Asian-inspired landscape, remember to seek simplicity above all else.