Chinese Gardens: Man & Nature in Harmony

chinese garden building bridge and pond

Chinese Garden Landscaping Idea

Landscaping Ideas: Chinese Garden

The Chinese Garden is carefully planned and chaotic.  You see a perfect, miniature landscape, yet it has no order.

Chinese Gardens are perfect for meditation, relaxation and entertaining.

Chinese Garden Principles

Borrow scenery

Incorporate scenery outside your yard into the garden.  Can you see the hills or mountains from your yard?  A river?  Other buildings?

Get creative and figure out how you can bring outside elements into the landscape of your yard.

Concealment & Surprise

The Chinese Garden is not meant to be seen all at once.  Hide your focal points so that you catch a glimpse here and a glimpse there.

  1. Decide where to place your main feature.  Usually this is a pond, right in the middle of the garden.
  2. Figure out where your vantage points are.  These would be your windows looking out into the yard, as well as various places in the yard itself.  Even tiny yards can have a shrouded path and can pack a surprise when you round that bend.
  3. On paper, play around with placing key elements so that your main focal point is partially hidden, no matter which vantage point you are at.

Key Elements of Chinese Gardens


Typical Chinese Gardens are surrounded by a white wall.  On a budget?  Fences can be painted.  Plywood makes an interesting, utilitarian wall.  Or, plant bamboo for a fast growing, living wall.


Place a pond in the center of the garden.  If your yard is tiny, make it a small pond.  But if your yard is big, get creative!  How about two ponds connected by a stream flowing under an arched bridge?


Surround your pond with architectural elements.  These don’t have to be pagoda-like structures.  Your house counts.  So do gazebos, trellis’, pergolas & arbors.

Structures surround the pond.  Gazebo, trellis, arbors.


The following plants are popular — not only for their beauty and fragrance, but for what they signify.

  • pine:  tenacity
  • bamboo: wise, modest, seeking knowledge, flexible in a storm, not breaking
  • chinese plum: rebirth
  • apricot tree: the way of the Mandarin
  • peach tree: immortality
  • orchid: nobility & impossible love
  • peony: opulance
  • lotus: integrity & balance
  • chrusanthemum: life of ease
  • pear tree: justice & wisdom


No Chinese Garden is complete with an artificial mountain or rock garden.  Do you have boulders in your yard already? Use them!

Otherwise, dirt can be mounded to create hills, rocks can be piled, natural looking retaining walls can be installed, or faux boulders can be brought in.

The idea is to create a miniature of a larger landscape.

A Step Further

  • Do you love birds?  Complete your Chinese Garden by giving some Mandarin Ducks a home in your new pond.
  • Create small, enclosed courtyards for meditation, painting or drinking tea.
  • Place an arched or zig-zag bridge over a dry (or wet) stream bed.



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