April 27, 2012
This plan shows one of our company projects where we designed and constructed a Japanese courtyard garden in a home that had an existing interior garden. The design of the home was inspired by sukiya style architecture, which beautifully complimented our Japanese garden project. One challenge of this project was that it was in a small space that was also visible through glass windows on all four sides. Although challenging it offer many interesting views, besides the primary view from the entry foyer and the secondary view from the formal dining area of the home.
A Japanese Courtyard Garden, or Tsuboniwa, is an enclosed garden space. These spaces are often small, which provides a wonderful opportunity to better express your taste in the garden. It is extremely important in these small spaces to strive for quality, not quantity. This includes quality ideas, materials and craftmanship, and all are important to the success of your garden project.
The start of a good garden project is a highly creative, well thought-out design. With regards to a small, or courtyard garden, it is a garden that will be viewed from close range, which means that the people using and enjoying the space will have every opportuniy to see its quality.
The materials for your garden should be hand selected, especially the stones and plant materials. Like in any Japanese Garden, its’ stonework is the backbone of the garden. Stone is used for tsukubai (hand washing features), chozubachi (water basins), toro (stone lanterns),stepping stones (tobishi), stone paving (nobedans), stone arrangemnets (iwa-gumi), gravel and other features. The point is that stone materials are used to create the structure and many of the focal features of Japanese Gardens and this of course includes courtyard gardens.
Many years ago the courtyard garden, or tsuboniwa, was built to help improve the living conditions for those people living in town, and in homes where an escape was needed from the summers heat. We still build gardens today for an escape and to provide relief. The difference is only that the escape in now from modern day pressures and to help provide therapeutic relief. A Japanese courtyard garden can also be designed as a wellness garden.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned while working in Japan was how to maximize the potential of small garden spaces and that a garden project can not be successful without quality materials and quality craftsmanship. And, lastly, that they are truly calming and relaxing spaces to visit, sit in and enjoy.
The plan view, the image sketch and the and the before and after pictures will hopefully help you to understand the potential of small spaces.
If you would like our help with your Japanese garden project please contact us, Niwa Design Studio, at 952-470-1882.
You can also visit Japanese Garden Journal for more information about Japanese Gardens.