What are Asian style gardens? There are as many visions and definitions as there are Asian gardeners!  Details Landscape Art is a North Bay landscape contractor, designing and building gardens in a variety of styles, including what we call Asian, and they are all different! We feel that an Asian themed garden is defined by the style of the elements included.


Many Asian gardeners include carefully sheared evergreen shrubs…not us. Many include meticulously placed pebbles arrangements in sand…not us. Elements we believe common in our Asian style gardens are as follows (we may use some or all of them):

Moss covered boulders- groupings of rocks among the plantings and other features add a natural flavor of strength. We mix different sizes together, and plant them so they look like they’ve been there forever.

Water features- the Japanese have known the serenity of the sound of running water for centuries. Ponds, waterfalls, streams, even fountains or birdbaths are peaceful additions to a garden. We like to incorporate boulders, river rock, ornamental grasses and overhanging plants.

Flagstone Creekbed Bridge

Arbors or torri gates- we love to see a wood element somewhere in the mix for vertical and structural interest


Pagodas or other strategically placed art pieces. Not too many please.


Plant material-many plants and trees characterize our Asian style gardens:


  • Japanese maples – So many beautiful varieties available. This staple of our gardens is a special tree. See our separate blog written about Japanese maples.

Golden Maple_2

  • Akebono cherry – gorgeous white blossoms in spring on this beauty.
  • Prunus ‘Snow Fountains’- weeping cherry – smaller graceful weeping tree to no more than ten to twelve feet tall
  • Sapium sebiferum- Chinese tallow tree – spectacular red fall foliage in this smallish deciduous tree.


  • Mugo pine – an evergreen chunky dark green plant with needles like a pine tree.
  • Nandina domestica – heavenly bamboo – Compacta gets reddish to orange foliage, and grows to about five feet tall, and spreads by underground runners. ”Moon Bay’ and ‘Gulfstream’ are shorter and more dense, to about two to three feet tall. ‘Firepower’ is compact, broader leaf which turns fire engine red in winter.
  • Pieris japonica – lily of the valley shrub – a variety of sizes and flower colors for this shade loving weeping plant. We love ‘Temple Bells’ pictured below.

Matzen Pieris

  • Berberis thunbergii – several varieties including ‘Rose Glow’, ‘Crimson Pygmy’, ‘Concorde’. All are deciduous, with distinctive burgundy foliage. ‘Rose Glow’ is the larger, with a pretty pink striation on the leaf. ‘Crimson Pygmy’ is a dwarf. ‘Concorde, also quite small, has a very dark red leaf – almost black.
  • Bamboo – there are running and clumping varieties. We strongly recommend the clumping type since the runners are invasive. Clumping bamboo works well as a tall screening shrub.
  • Euonymus
  • Hydrangea – Many colors available for this reliable summer bloomer. ‘Enchantress’ is pictured below.

We at Details Landscape Art are able to take some or all of these elements and plant material, and design a garden with an Asian flavor. It is not so much the individual elements chosen, but how they are put together that creates the desired feeling of Asian style gardens !