What Is A Stroll Garden – How To Make A Stroll Garden At Home

Stroll Style Garden With Wooden Bridge
(Image credit: AIS60)

Just because you can take a leisurely walk around a garden doesn’t make it a stroll garden. What is a stroll garden? Japanese stroll gardens are outdoor spaces where the design allows a visitor the anticipation and slow discovery of beauty. If you would like more information about stroll gardens, read on for some stroll garden ideas. We’ll also give you tips on how to make a stroll garden of your own.

What is a Stroll Garden?

If a stroll garden was simply a garden you could walk through, every garden would qualify. Instead, Japanese stroll gardens are outdoor areas designed with a different intent than most gardens.

The Japanese apparently got their initial stroll garden ideas from the Chinese who developed two sorts of gardens, gardens to foster spiritual development and gardens to provide pleasure. The Japanese made two similar types of gardens often identified as Zen gardens and stroll gardens.

Stroll Garden Ideas

The idea behind Japanese stroll gardens is to create spaces where, by walking in a leisurely fashion along a carefully constructed path, you discover points of beautiful and surprising vistas. New perspectives are hidden around bends, between bushes, or up rises, anticipated, yet a delight each time.

In Japan, these perspectives often include scenes that evoke famous areas of natural beauty, like Mount Fuji, the famous coastal spot of Amanohashidate, or the Oi River near Kyoto. The sites are not miniaturized models that reproduce the details of the original, but rather elements that bring the viewer the sense of beauty found there.

For example, the actual Amanohashidate is a narrow, pine-filled peninsula on a wide bay. To evoke it, those designing a stroll garden might include one sole pine planted on land extending into a pond.

How to Make a Stroll Garden

If you are interested in designing a stroll garden in your own backyard, the central element is the pathway meandering around a feature like a pond. In keeping with stroll garden ideas, someone who strolls along the pathway should feel that he or she is embarking on a voyage.

You can control the stroller’s experience in a variety of ways. For example, if you select an easy-to-walk surface for your pathway, a person can move along at quite a clip. However, if you wish them to slow down to appreciate a particular perspective or element, you can use small stepping stones where a stroller must concentrate to stay on the path.

Remember that discovery is a key element too. The focal points you wish a visitor to enjoy should not be entirely visible from any other point, but should be experienced as part of the walk.

You need not include Mt Fuji (or similar famous scenes) in your personal stroll garden. When you are designing a stroll garden, focus on your garden's own special element, like a dramatic plant, a distant vista, or a sculpture.

Indeed, gardeners can build Japanese stroll gardens around one sole element, like a pond, the view of which appears then disappears, but then reappears in a different context as the stroller makes his or her way down the path. Just be sure that only one focal point at a time is visible to the viewer.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.