Oriental gardens are very different from the wild, natural gardens favored by flower lovers and the perfectly symmetrical English gardens. An Oriental garden is known for blending into nature and for symbolism. Everything in an oriental garden represents something in nature. For example, a gravel path may stand in for a rushing river, while a single boulder can be reminiscent of a mountain range. Oriental gardens are tranquil by nature and present an opportunity for the gardener to relax and meditate.
Draw out your area in which you plan to place your garden. Note the amount of sun that each part of the garden gets, as well as landscape features such as elevation, slope and drainage. This defines the limitations inside of which you will have to work.
Determine the style of Oriental garden that you want to incorporate. Most people think of the Japanese garden when they think of Oriental gardens, but throughout Asia there are also tropical landscapes as well as cultures ranging from India to Thailand to China, just to name a few.
Break your garden into separate rooms or compartments of landscape with separate focuses. You may wish to include an area for dining, or one with a tranquil pond full of koi that you can watch while meditating.
Include areas where you can sit that can act as focal points as well as functional resting areas.
Design transition points such as pathways that will move visitors from one room to another, and define the borders of your garden beds. Pathways should wind asymmetrically rather than moving in arrow straight lines.
Consider using a moon gate, which is circular in design, or a pagoda shape over a winding path.
Make sure that every feature you incorporate is found in the natural world. This would include a small stream or waterfall, boulders or rocks, and large gravel patches. It would exclude gazing balls or mosaic stepping stones in the shape of turtles or other animals.