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Japanese Tea Garden

This ordinary backyard is transformed into a modern Japanese retreat.

Sandra Hernandez is a busy wife, mother, teacher's aide and recent college graduate. She has dreamed of creating a Japanese-style garden in her backyard, but she's been very busy and hasn't had much time to accomplish that goal. Her husband, Jose Dorado, would like to make her dream come true as a graduation present and has called on host Susie Coelho along with designer Jack Phelan to bring their barren backyard to life in a decidedly Japanese theme.

This yard is currently comprised of a new gazebo, dirt, broken sprinklers, a falling fence, patches of dry grass and tree stumps. Homeowner Sandra Hernandez dreams of the tranquility that a Japanese-style garden could bring to the space.

The existing gazebo's scrolled iron work and scalloped valance are very nice, but too ornate for a Japanese design plan so the homeowners are consulted about making some changes.

Jack Phelan's plan divides the yard into three areas: a Zen rock garden to add tranquility, a water feature for peace and to drown out urban noise and a new tea house. Color will be achieved through foliage and the various shapes of the chosen plants.

Rolls of bamboo fencing quickly hide the concrete wall and fence. Once a piece of bamboo is cut, the pump hose is snaked through it and the pump is placed inside a decorative urn, which is then filled with water.

Instead of permanently altering the gazebo, the iron work is camouflaged with bamboo shades and the valance is simply tucked under to create simpler, cleaner lines. Lightweight screens add more privacy, while hanging lanterns and a floor mat provides the perfect backdrop for a low table ready to serve tea.

This table is low so that guests can enjoy their tea in the traditional manner, with feet off while sitting on floor pillows. Natural tones of brown and green lend to the serene and tranquil setting.

Once a weed barrier is arranged, two large rocks are carefully set in position to make the rock garden (the tall one represents a crane and the shorter one a tortoise to indicate long life, meditation and peace). Two inches of small gravel fills in the area and a rake creates a downward stream. A circle around the rocks indicates a ripple effect and one's resistance to time.

Makeover Information

floor mats, bamboo shades (Home Depot)
bamboo fencing, tabletop (Lowe's)
bamboo for fountain (Orchard Supply Hardware)
gong and lanterns (Cost Plus World Market)

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