A DIY Japanese Garden

Matt Trevaskis from Hola Pistola explains how he created a Japanese inspired garden in his own backyard, for next to nothing.

When Matt and Fiona moved from their much loved flat in Balaclava into their new home in Melbourne’s Brighton East, they were determined to make the most of the one thing their flat had been lacking- the backyard.

Matt is a graphic designer with an affinity for Japanese design. When he and wife Fiona moved house, they were really excited about utilizing their new outdoor area and creating a relaxing space to call their own. They decided they wanted to build a Japanese inspired garden; the main hurdle was the cost.

After calculating the price of paving, established Japanese maples, decking, pebbles and the rest, they soon realised the garden they were imagining would come at no inconsiderable expense. And so soon after shelling out for the move, they found it hard to justify spending that much on the garden.

Not willing to give up so easily, Matt started trawling sites like Gumtree and Ebay for second-hand garden supplies. To his surprise there was no shortage of people looking to rid themselves of quality paving, massive pots, decking and all manner of garden accoutrement. He even acquired two beautiful Japanese weeping maples for nothing, provided he was prepared to dig them out!

“There was so much stuff out there,” tells Matt. “The guy who we got the white stones from had them all bagged up for me by the time I got over there. He just wanted them gone so he could lay bark down.” There’s a similar story for many of the garden’s major features: “we were hoping to get lucky with one or two of the things we were after, but once we started looking around we just had to keep going. It was awesome.”

They also made use of the materials already in the yard. By digging up a disused path and repurposing the bricks, and rearranging the existing plants and grasses to complement the garden’s new additions, they reduced the quantity of new materials needed to create the desired effect.

It was undeniably a hard slog. Matt was responsible for almost all the heavy work. He dug the pathways and laid all the paving and stones himself; and hauling home the adult maples was no small feat. Luckily his dad came down from Queensland for a visit and could help with building the decked seating area.

It took a lot of effort, but the end result is pretty amazing. While Matt’s a graphic designer and certainly has an eye for detail, he’s not a landscape gardener. It really goes to show that if you do a bit of investigating, and are prepared to put in a bit of effort and imagination, it can really pay dividends.

Categories Gardens

Leave a Comment