Before & After: Tsukubai Front Garden

I would say that this is a typical, under loved entry way, but the makeover that this homeowner gave to the front of his home is so perfect and inviting and radically improves the curb appeal.

garden makeover before shot of tsukubai garden

garden makeover before shot of tsukubai garden

This is a tsukubai (蹲踞?) garden.   A  tsukubai is a small basin provided in Japanese Buddhist temples for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth.   I love the idea of putting one at the entry to the home as if to signify the entry into your own private temple retreat.

garden makeover after shot of tsukubai garden

Tsukubai are usually of stone, and are often provided with a small scoop, laid across the top, ready for use. A supply of water is provided via a bamboo pipe called a kakei.

garden makeover after shot of tsukubai garden

garden makeover after shot of tsukubai garden

garden makeover tsukubai garden lantern DIY

As another DIY touch, this is indoor “table lamp” was converted for outdoor use with a roof, base and a waterproof switch.

All images by justaninja

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. michelle d. on August 25, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Love the garden. Dislike the fence.
    It’s totally incongruent with the architecture in every aspect ; size of boards, height of extended posts and height of overall fence structure and coloration.

  2. Bill Kisich on August 25, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I love the Garden. I really love the light fixture. Nice work for a DIY project.

  3. private on June 24, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Love the courtyard. I even like the fence from the inside – the filtered light and privacy and lines are great inside. The color nicely matches the tone of the brick for light dark value, and yet adds a very natural element with a contrasting backlit horizontal line. From the outside, it’s sort of like a delivered crate. I do wonder what the fence looks like from the street, in the neighborhood. Maybe it wants a dogwood on the outside, or even a twisted pine, and some liriope. It looks fabulous so far, but every marvelous project has an edge of the finished part.

    This project breaks some rules – it obscures the doorway, and crowds the driveway. Does it want a welcome sign next to the door, or something more subtle? But I applaud the homeowner who decided it was worth breaking rules to create a beautiful space. It would be lovely to walk through that garden daily.

  4. Jemima Starling on March 15, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I like the design and the fence. Maybe you could consider tying the house into the design by cladding the brick with horizontal cedar cladding. Front gardens are a lost opportunity. Your Japanese garden will delight residents and passersby.

  5. Gwen Beasley Clemens on June 14, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I love it. It has given me hope for my front entry!

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