Japanese Courtyard Garden
You may find a profusion of plants in a western-style garden. Not so in the Japanese garden. Plantings are fewer in number and variety. Empty space is a design concept as important as plant selection and placement. This is particularily true for the courtyard garden. Care must be given not to over plant in such a small area. The lushness of the garden is accomplished more through its traditional carpet of moss and a few featured plants rather than its many and varied selections. Pebbles or stones may also be used as goundcover.
This garden style is designed more for viewing than walking in so should be visually accessible through windows or from a porch or balcony. Because of this, plants should also be selected for their seasonal beauty. The focal point of the garden may be a particular tree or large stone or a water feature to bring sound into the garden. Bamboo or a taller tree or a clump of taller-growing grasses will bring movement into the garden from the wind. The garden should also give the allusion of being part of the landscape beyond. The beauty of the courtyard garden draws from the concept of borrowed scenery mentioned earlier.
Being that this type of garden is closely connected to surrounding buildings, to reflect the personality of the garden you may want to make some changes to the structures. For example, you may want to replace a fence with a hedge or screen, or change a western style fence to a simple bamboo one, or add a pitched roof to an existing fence. You may want to change a bricked area to one of stone and gravel or moss, or plaster a wall in the garden area. A simple change can make a world of difference in the look and feel of a small area garden.