Traditional Japanese Style Garden

Northampton, MA

This was a multi year landscape design installation project that had a number of issues to solve: slippery bricks that were a hazard to walk on, deep shade where little but moss was growing, very few flowering perennials, a falling down stonewall that begged for a perennial garden at its top, a sitting area that was small and dysfunctional, a problematic pond, mature trees in need of pruning and a natural woodland whose beauty was not being integrated into the landscape. Jim, in collaboration with the client, set about on a methodical course that converted these problems one by one. The below photos will showcase only the pond/patio area and the front court yard.


Before: The old pond was small and hand dug and done by a previous owner. It had no filter, liner, waterfall, overflow, plants or hardscaping elements. Because of the topography, location and depth it was also a potential hazard.


After (3 Years Later): The pond has been enlarged and a filter, liner, overflow and waterfall have been been added. The pond will remain clearer, cleaner and mosquito free now that these changes have been made. The hillside above it has been planted with a Cutleaf Japanese Maple and a glade of Japanese Painted and Maiden Hair ferns. On the near side of the pond, where is is hotter and dryer, low growing Salvias and Perennial Geraniums were planted around the path.


Before: The location of the pond has been move slightly to accommodate a Goshen Flagstone sitting area.


After (3 Years Later): We constructed a traditional hand-cut dry laid Goshen Stone patio. This patio is approximately 250 sq. feet and will easily accommodate a table for four with possible side tables. The fitted Goshen flagstone is set on a gravel base 12 – 36″ deep. The stones are then hand-cut and set. While choosing the proper stone for the next placement is an art making sure each has the appropriate pitch away from the house is a science.


Before: Lacking a waterfall the pond had no sounds.


After (3 Years Later): The sound of running water is a key element here. It is quiet enough not to overwhelm any conversation on the patio. But its constant presence provides a soothing and meditative back drop. The perennial Salvias love the heat given off by the stones on the edge of the pond.


Before: This sitting area was unused. It also disrupted the traffic flow coming on and off the porch. A flagstone sitting area with perennials, in a more appropriate location, has been built.


After (3 Years Later): The curvy white gravel path and its contrast with the linear black steps. The perfect blend of function and form.


Before: The bricks in this Japanese style court yard were slippery and offered little ornamental interest. The area to plant perennials was not in proportion with the space and the owner’s interests. Despite this the space had tremendous potential.


After (3 Months Later): The bricks have been removed, leaving more room for shade perennial. Some of the perennials used were snakeroot, solomon’s seal, maidenhair fern, epimedium, and Japanese hakone grass.


Before: Because these bricks were in the deep shade they were mossy and slick. The proportions of hardscaping to perennials were also out of balance.


After (3 Months Later): The slick brick was removed, recycled, and replaced with a white gravel path. This kind of path was chosen because it was not slippery. The path is curved and white gravel was used because it was an appropriate juxtaposing with the houses straight lines and its many black features.

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