How to Achieve a Japanese-Inspired Garden for Less

Zen Garden with pond and bridge

You did it. You finally built the house you only used to dream of. That unpretentious ornamental iron fencing looks dramatic against Salt Lake City’s azure skies; the shutters look like a standout in that beautiful peppercorn gray. The Corbusier blue paint you slapped onto the kitchen walls looks wonderfully welcoming. Modesty aside, you believe you could potentially make a career out of this. The house looks picture-perfect, except for the fact that your front yard is terribly nondescript.

With most of your renovation budget having gone to new hardwood floors, cans of paint, and new furniture, you’re now left with enough money to pay for landscaping. The great news, however, is that there are loads you can do with just a couple of dollars, a few repurposed items, cans of paint you still have lying around, and lots of creativity.

Here are three economical DIY landscape projects you can take on:

Incorporate a touch of zen by laying pebbles on your front yard

Mari Kondo would definitely approve a Japanese-inspired front yard not only because of its minimalist appeal but also because of its practicality. Sure, yards of rolling green grass might make your front yard seem lusher, but that could also easily set you back $500 for seeding alone. A cubic yard of ¾-inch of clean stone, on the other hand, will only cost you $39. Choosing this route will also save you up on maintenance costs that come with watering and sodding a lawn.

Choose low-maintenance plants like perennials

perennial plants along stone barrier

Your front yard now boasts of a tastefully laid out carpet of pebbles. A great way to complement this aesthetic is to strategically decorate the perimeter of your yard with vibrant perennials. These plants live for as long as two years, so you won’t be required to replace them every year. This saves you a lot of money in the process. There is a wide variety of these colorful plants that spread readily and should fill your Japanese-inspired garden quite easily.

Perennials also require minimal upkeep when it comes to watering and fertilizing, as their roots are more far-reaching than others. Some low-maintenance perennials you might want to consider planting are daisies, sedums, and blue false indigos. These will lend a perfect contrast to the peppercorn gray of your shutters. You could choose to grow them on the ground or you could grab terracotta pots and paint these white for that minimalist aesthetic appeal you are aiming for.

Repurpose old hardwood floors to use as a pathway

Every decent garden, whether Japanese-inspired or not, deserves a pathway. This could be the perfect opportunity for you to repurpose some of those hardwood floors you stripped down from your old kitchen. All you need is a can of varnish to bring back the woods’ natural patina. Lay down a slab from where your gate starts and leave a space in between each slab. To add balance to the design, space should ideally be the same width as each slab. You can now fill these gaps with the same clean stones you filled your yard with.

There are other DIY landscape projects you can consider that won’t break the bank, but you can start running through these ideas listed above. It is advisable to do an inventory of materials you have available and shop around for those that you need to buy prior to starting. Once you have this figured out, having a beautifully built garden on a budget should not be impossible to achieve.