QAQ Blog

How to Create a Chinese Style Garden



Oriental gardens have an allure of peace, tranquility, meditation, and mystery because they are specifically composed to create such. What are the elements used to create this atmosphere in an oriental garden, and how can they be copied in our own backyard?


Following on my last post on QAQ’s ‘Bamboo’ decorative screen feature, I wanted to take a look at oriental style gardens–specifically, Chinese style gardens, leaving the Japanese style garden for another day–because there are specific differences that make each give a different sort of feeling when you walk through them. Chinese gardens are a little more bold and colorful; a bit more ornate; whereas Japanese gardens are more restrained, less ornamental, and more conducive to Zen meditation.


Elements of a Chinese Garden


There are three main elements of a Chinese garden that have representational meanings to encourage a meditational stroll:


  1. Water – Represents the constantly changing flow of life and of nature
  2. Stones – Represents strength, endurance, and stability
  3. Plants- The beauty and texture that gives life its meaning



Japanese gardens have these elements but express them differently: typically, Chinese gardens will be centered with a large, ornate building as a focal point while buildings are less important in a Japanese landscape, and may even be hidden from the garden path views. Stones are larger in a Chinese garden, and again, serve as focal points. A larger variety of plants and flowers are used in a Chinese garden, and in a less tightly manicured fashion than in a Japanese garden. However, there are many more similarities than differences between the two styles, as both incorporate these key elements:

  • A Welcoming entrance – A round ‘Moon Gate’ or ‘Torii’ gate, or two potted, manicured ‘bonsai’ trees
  • Bridges – Rounded arches or as zig-zagging, flat platforms
  • Tea houses and private pavilions
  • Lanterns – hanging or in stone statues
  • Statues – though never too dominating as used in Western gardens
  • Moss – for the less sunny areas between pathers, rocks, and statues
  • Garden gravel
  • Meandering pathways for easy contemplation
  • Water – a water feature, a pond, a creek


The plants and trees specific to a Chinese style garden are:


  • Bamboo – Bamboo -used as railings, fences, and as a plant, and representing flexibility in life
  • Pine – representing endurance
  • Lotus – symbolic of spiritual purity
Other plants you’ll often find there are: magnolia, azaleas, chrysanthemums, olive, and spirea
Now, get ready for some beautiful eye-candy! These Chinese flowers are colorful and exotic, and simply stunning!

Specific Chinese Garden Flowers:










The easiest to grow–and for that reason the most common–of these beauties are the magnolias and wisteria.

Now, as we are a decorative screen company, I can’t help but suggest beautiful garden screens to evoke the Orient in your garden or home, so I’ve curated what I consider the most oriental of all QAQ’s screen designs…



To see a Chinese garden in Australia, visit the Sydney Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbor which is a superb and beautiful example of a traditional Chinese garden.


Hope you have enjoyed this little foray into Chinese gardens. Please leave a comment if you have, and if you can suggest where any other Chinese gardens may be within Australia!



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