The challenge: Transform a truck bed into a garden bed.

By Sydney Price
June 13, 2018
Matsuda bamboo screen truck garden
"Rin" by Matsuda Landscaping Construction

These trucks prove you can plant a garden just about anywhere. Every year, various local branches of the Japanese Federation of Landscape Contractors host Kei Truck Garden Contests. Called kei trucks, or “light” trucks for their small size, these tiny yet hardworking vehicles usually transport farming and construction supplies to job sites. But on this day, landscapers exercise their creativity by transforming the truck beds’ approximately 6- x 4-foot spaces into lush gardens for all to admire.

The designs range from simple and modern to showy and elaborate. You’ll see stepping stone paths, serene Zen gardens, tanks complete with live fish and running water, even a café bar outfitted with teacups.

Contestants are judged on their skill in various categories, such as planning, design concept, execution, and environmental consideration. Public visitors also get to vote on their favorite garden-in-a-truck. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites, but you can check out more from the Osaka branch and the Hanshin branch.

Fukaru truck garden bench
"Bench of Fukuharu" by Fukuharu Landscaping

We want to sit on this bench and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a chat with a friend. Those “mountains” of moss rising up behind you would make you forget you were actually sitting on the back of a truck. So relaxing!

Nisikawa truck fairy garden
"Your Own Garden" by Nishikawa Landscaping Co., Ltd.

Is this tiny fairy garden not the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen? The amount of plants they’ve managed to artfully arrange into such a small space is incredible. Polka-dot mushrooms figures give it a whimsical touch, and it even has its very own pond—swan and all.

Showa cafe bar garden truck
"Momiji Cafe" by Showa Landscaping Civil Engineering Co., Ltd.

Fitting seating into your truck scene is impressive, but how about a walk-up café bar with standing room for six? Its title, Momiji, means “maple”—aptly so, as several small maple trees flank the back of the center pond.

plant wall fish tanks truck garden
“Midori's Waterside” by Kansai Planting Co., Ltd.

This landscaping company pulled out all the stops. Is there anything this truck bed garden doesn’t have? They’ve thought of every detail for their contest entry, including a living wall, trees, running water, a light display, and live fish.

bamboo wall zen garden truck
"Sound Play of Carts in the Garden” by Tanaka Landscaping Civil Engineering Co., Ltd.

With a bamboo fence blocking out any distractions beyond and a pleasing pattern of contrasting gravel and grass squares, this calming corner of the show proves the mantra “beauty in simplicity.” It looks like the perfect spot to take a moment for reflection.

Kansai Ueki shoji screen garden truck
"Brocade of Autumn Leaves" by Kansai Ueki Co., Ltd.

This company included traditional shoji screens in their design, with some panels left open to give viewers just a peek of the trees and ferns inside. Careful light placement allows you to see the subtle shadow play of the leaves against the screens.


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