Converting lawn to Japanese rock garden?

Seattle, WA

My husband and I are ready to convert our front yard into a Japanese-inspired rock and gravel garden.
Here’s our plan:
1) Dig up lawn and transplant groundcovers and other plants we want to keep.
2) Lay out geotextile fabric.
3) Add a boulder or two.
4) Add soil and mound it up where we want moss/plants. (Do this before or after laying out the fabric?)
5) We have a maple tree that is beautiful and we won’t touch it. No fabric or gravel. Just mulch and understory plants.
6) Fill the rest of the spaces with gravel.

We could use advice on how to give plants what they need while having the majority of our yard be a rock and gravel garden. Are we missing a step or detail? The Ryoanji Temple picture of a boulder surrounded by moss then surrounded by gravel is our main inspiration.


Thumbnail by mccracken11
Winston Salem, NC(Zone 7b)

So beautiful. I was there several years ago. I have a smaller area that i'd like to do something like that with, but we have a lot of leaves to rake in the fall, and I worry I'd be raking away all the gravel by the time I got the leaves up every year. Keeping gravel as clean as it is in those very maintained gardens IS a project, and maybe an expense if you have to keep adding fresh all the time.

I have had good results so far with digging up bits of moss out of the lawn, etc. and moving the moss to where I want it, then i covered it with some old window screen while it got established to keep it from blowing/ washing away, and sprayed it down about every other day. I have tried the moss 'shake' w/o great results. And just had a moldy mess with the moss-growing 'recipes' that call for beer or buttermilk. Here, the moss won't survive in sunny areas, so a design where it is that exposed wouldn't work, but where you are perhaps it is moist and overcast enough.

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