Tours
Man spends 10 years transforming barren backyard into gorgeous, terraced Japanese garden
Martin Fitton's gorgeous Japanese garden backyard took him over 13 years to complete - and once you see it for yourself you'll definitely underdstand why. 😍
D.G. Sciortino
07.21.22

When Martin Fitton first came across the zen-like beauty of a Japanese garden on vacation in 2009, he knew he wanted one of his own.

“I’d never been to a Japanese garden before then,” Fitton told Daily Mail. “It felt so peaceful and quiet and calm, and I was looking around at it all and thought I could definitely do that myself.”

The only problem was that his Brislington, Bristol backyard was pretty much barren.

So, he spent the next 13 years working to transform it into a picture-perfect terraced Japanese garden completely.

It is absolutely extra and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Japan. There’s a teahouse, a koi pond, as well as concrete lanterns and pagodas.

Martin pretty much built everything all on his own.

The only thing that Martin didn’t build himself is the courtyard and concrete lanterns.

“I am very proud of my garden. It’s been very rewarding. I don’t have any help with the garden, I do it all myself, so it’s nice being able to see how it’s all come together,” Martin, who is a tanker driver, told Newsweek.

The backyard originally had some climbing frames and playhouses for his two children.

But once they were teenagers, he decided to create a peaceful place for him and his wife to enjoy.

“My kids were teenagers by this point so weren’t really using the garden like they used to as children, so as soon as I get home, I started on transforming the old summer house into a tea house,” Martin said.

Now the backyard is his favorite place in the house.

“‘I like to sit on the pavilion with a cup of tea or a beer with my wife and look over the garden, it feels very peaceful. I love being in the garden and I’ve always enjoyed working with wood so it was both things I was passionate about coming together,” Martin said. “The tea house is the first thing you see when you enter the garden and it was the first thing I built, so that’s really nice.”

The most recent addition to the garden was the upper part of the zen garden which, by default of being new, makes it his current favorite part.

He’s spent about $9,000 on his Japanese garden over the year.

Martin was set on making his Japanese garden as authentic as possible and started looking up information in books and magazines. Now he gets most of his inspiration online.

“I’ve had Japanese people compliment the garden which is really nice because I didn’t want to offend the Japanese by doing it wrong, so I like that they have approved of it. I really wanted to make sure that everything was Japanese and that I didn’t get it mixed up with Chinese, so it was all true to the culture and not crossing over,” Martin said.

“I’ve made Japanese friends as a result and often send them writing that I’ve found to make sure it translates correctly and to make sure it’s Japanese, not Chinese, as the writing looks so similar.”

Martin’s authentic Japanese garden has garnered lots of attention online.

“The response to the garden has been overwhelming. I’m really pleased I decided to do it and I hope I’ve created the same peace and calm I felt when visiting my first Japanese garden for other people,” Martin said.

Get the full tour of the garden in the video below.

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By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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