Japanese Water Gardens

Japanese gardens attempt to present or capture the beauty of the natural Japanese landscape, into a limited space. Whether creating a seaside or a mountainous country scene, stones, water and mosses are important elements. Japanese gardens also reflect the elements of the Japanese culture and often include sculptures and artwork. This way they combine both the natural beauty with artificial beauty.

The plants are living elements and as they grow, they transform and respond to what goes on around them. The garden is a dream in its original plan, but is never finished.

What are the types of japanese gardens?

There are 3 basic types.

Tea house gardens

Dry stone gardens

Gardens with ponds

For the purposes of this website we will focus on the Japanese pond garden.

Japanese ponds may emphasise streams flowing into lakes or rivers out to sea. Japanese dry stone gardens often use white sand, carefully raked, to symbolise flowing. Many Japanese ponds incorporate islands to reflect coastal views, or arrange sand and rocks create a shoreline. While others create waterfalls inspired by mountain streams.

A Japanese pond can gain a whole new panorama, through the reflective properties of the water. The graceful formations of a borrowed landscape.

Japanese ponds are meant to be viewed from many sides, creating further challenges for any designer.

What water plants should I include in my japanese pond garden?

Many Japanese ponds are designed with few water plants. This occurs where the landscaped pond is an example of a large river, lake or sea. In these settings there are naturally fewer visible plants in the water, but are placed along the edges to reflect those that grow along river banks and coastal shorelines. Plants such as Rabbit Ear Iris (Iris laevigata) and Japanese Iris (Iris ensata, sometimes still referred to as Iris kaempferi) are ideal for these landscapes. These Iris are often found in the Japanese Temple water gardens, due to their beautiful floral shows.

Lotus (Nelumbo) and water lilies (Nymphaea) are also featured in many Japanese pond gardens. They can add some dramatic beauty while still exuding peace and tranquillity.

Gold fish and koi

Both Gold fish and Koi are popular in Japanese ponds. You tend to lose yourself in their presence, as you sit down to watch them glide peacefully though the pond. While gold fish are available to purchase throughout Australia, Koi are restricted and are only allowed in NSW and WA. Most pond plants can exist happily with fish up to 30cm, however if you have Koi that are much larger, then the pond plants may need to be protected from damage.


  1. Click on the following link to view water lilies that are available from Oz Watergardens.
  2. Click on the following link for more information on Tropical plants , such as Lotus.
  3. To view the varieties of Iris go to our Zone Map page and check out Zones 2 and 3.

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Acorus calamus Variegatus

Acorus gramineus

Acorus gramineus Ogon

Acorus gramineus Variegatus

Imperata cyclindrica Rubra

Iris ensata Blue Lagoon

Iris ensata Court Jester

Iris ensata Diamond Night

Iris ensata Emperor

Iris ensata Enchanted Lake

Iris ensata Freckled Geisha

Iris ensata Geisha Parasol

Iris ensata Gosan No Takara

Iris ensata Hekito

Iris ensata Hoyden

Iris ensata Imperial Velvet

Iris ensata Island Paradise

Iris ensata Kimboshi

Iris ensata Kings Court

Iris ensata La Tosca

Iris ensata Ocean Mist

Iris ensata Pastel Princess

Iris ensata Rose Prelude

Iris ensata Storm at Sea

Iris ensata Summer Snowflake

Iris ensata White

Iris ensata Worlds Delight

Iris laevigata Albopurpurea

Iris laevigata Royal Cartwheel

Iris laevigata Snowdrift

Nelumbo nucifera

Nymphaea Assorted