General advice on a Japanese garden

macnut

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Hi all. I hope this is the right place for this. (Mods, please feel free to move)

My parents live in Hawaii and have a garden in their front yard. It was established in the 70's and through the years, has turned into quite a mess. I'm going to be going home early next summer for about a week and I was hoping to do a little work on the garden so it doesn't look so bad.

When it was first made, it was pretty nice but as it got older, my dad let the yardman (not a bonsai guy, obviously) turn it into a mess of pom poms and no design whatsoever. I'm not a landscape architect by any means but I have a few ideas I'd like to try out.

Please take a look at the attached picture and let me know your thoughts as well as your ideas. I would love to hear (and possible incorporate) them!

Moms-yard-web.jpg

Thanks for your time!

Jason
 

discusmike

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One thing to remember, gardens do not have to be permanent, if you don't like it, change it, I move and redesign every year it seems, its a work in progress.
 

discusmike

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Pretty cool garden, google jap garden photos, you will find some inspiration
 

macnut

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Yeah, I plan to change things up a bit. First off, I'd like to change that pompom one in the front left... Going to try to create pads from the poms and move some branches around. This image is old (got off google) so it will have grown in a bit - I think its possible. I won't be moving the large stuff but the smaller stuff is fair game. Might pot a few as well.

I mainly want to break up the "oh there's a space, lets put something there syndrome", by creating more "islands" within the layout and creating a central focus. Additional islands may consist of wood chips or gray stones... dunno. The majority of the yard will be the existing red cinders. Lots of accent planting too. Stuff like that.
 

ghues

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I agree, to me its way to busy, there is too much going on, no flow, too much visual noise. Need to choice a common theme and go with "less is more".
But that's based on what I see and feel from the one photo.....hard to given an opinion on just the one perspective ,.......
Good luck, a great project, keep us updated.
Cheers Graham.
 

gergwebber

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I mainly want to break up the "oh there's a space, lets put something there syndrome", by creating more "islands" within the layout and creating a central focus. Additional islands may consist of wood chips or gray stones... dunno. The majority of the yard will be the existing red cinders. Lots of accent planting too. Stuff like that.
That is the right idea...

perhaps if you took the island (think of it as a concise palette) and pushed it back and out. Use those materials to bring the back drop and edges into a composed space as opposed to dividing up the yard. The lava could remain as a path material from the walk to the side of the house.

Also, I think the car port? (BBQ area to photo right) and the wall of plastic pots could use some adjustments. Is there anyway to clothe the pots? or add a structural element there like a bench/ BBQ skirt or steps into the yard?

That will be a lot of fun....
 

gergwebber

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And to be fair, that is not a Japanese garden. And its not your folks' fault either.

It is just something that happens when you join AARP. The garden gremlins start magicking in rocks and pom poms and gaudy statuary.

My grandpa's yard is the same way.
 

Neli

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There is place for topiary in Japanese garden but it needs to be done well. The front 3 center shrubs I would try to style as balls.
Look at elements in Japanese gardens and try to combine them in a very simple uncluttered way.
165871_361108943959653_648080461_n.jpg580773_361108903959657_1728194516_n.jpg1479526_357610241042243_545490100_n.jpgJapan 012 (550x413).jpg
The las picture is of some topiaries near Omyia village
 

macnut

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30 years ago, it was a beautiful, lush Japanese garden. All of the plants were trained as bonsai and the garden was designed by a Japanese garden landscaper. Along the way, my parents decided the monthly maintenance was too expensive so my dad did it himself. After awhile, that task then went to the yard guy which brings us to today.

Yeah, I know a week isnt a whole lot of time, but I'd like to do as much as I can to bring some sort of design aesthetic to the yard.

"...perhaps if you took the island (think of it as a concise palette) and pushed it back and out."

I don't think I'll be able to move the island as it's pretty established and has sprinklers. I'd like to try to build it up to make it a more focal point by possibly enlarging and planting more accents upon it. Plus that would be beyond my capability within a week.

Those large plastic pots are my dad's obsession with Water lillies. He has probably 50 more basins in the back yard. I'll try to see if we can relocate them - not sure how he'll feel about that.

While I do agree there is a place for topiary in japan gardens, I'd kind of like to bring this garden back to the naturalistic look it had when it was first established. Those are some great reference pics, Neli, thank you.

Thank you for that link, GrimLore. It's perfect for me to do further research. I had not come across that before.
 

gergwebber

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sorry that came across as mean. The rock thing happens in CA a lot when good gardeners get older, and they have to cut costs. It is hard to find gardeners who will work outside of their comforts...

I did not mean to move the island, but only to increase the amount of island. Use the Island material set (I guess it is a berm with grass a few nice stones and a perennial or two,) and increase the ratio of green to red. Think of the green as a paint to cover the ground plane.

Right now the Island does not work because there is too little context at the garden edges. By filling the edges with similar island type material, it will make the whole garden less barren and disjointed:

Lava Garden.jpg
 

ChrisV

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Japanese gardens should be in balance. Everything in harmony and connected someway.
They are an expression of the artist mind and soul.
Sometimes less is more.
It's just not a japanese garden when you just put some gravel and plants in it.
Japanes gardens are neat, tidy and tight.
Everything has a purpose and reason it's in that spot in the garden.
Otherwise just call it oriental garden.
 
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