Kubota Garden Improvements

Updated: October 5, 2022

Fall 2022

Kubota Garden is a public American-Japanese garden in South Seattle that started as a beautiful vision of Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese emigrant. You are invited to learn more about Fujitaro's story.

Kubota Garden Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation invite you to learn more about several projects underway. The parking lot expansion, gathering plaza and a new Ishigaki wall are in various stages of design. These projects are in response to the growing number of visitors at the Garden and aim to create a welcoming, gracious and culturally significant entry to the Garden. 

The parking lot expansion will include stormwater improvements including rain gardens to filter sediment before it enters the Garden ponds and it will almost double the amount of parking at the Garden. The Gathering Plaza will provide a larger accessible, pedestrian friendly entry that includes a small kiosk with information about the Garden. The Ishigaki wall will be located at the south end of the parking lot and will be built using the same methods used with the Overlook Terrace Ishigaki Wall.  The Overlook Terrace Wall was constructed by stonemasons from Japan as well as artisans from around the Pacific Northwest. The construction method for an Ishigaki wall dates back 15 generations in Japan. 

We are excited to share these concept options with you and to have your feedback. View the most recent presentation from the Fall Open House  

Thank you to everyone who provided input for the Master Plan Update and participated in the Master Plan Update process. See information available below.

A number of upcoming projects, which came out of the recently completed Master Plan include:

Kubota Garden Restroom

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is happy to announce that construction has begun for the new restroom and pathway improvements at Kubota Garden through a contract with Optimus Construction and Development Inc. The contractor has been working throughout the summer and will continue through early fall to complete the construction.

The goal of this improvement project is to expand ADA access in the garden and enhance visitor experience. Two all-gender restrooms, and ADA-accessible pathways and picnic area will be developed in the 5-acre Terrace Overlook area. The project includes removal of 14 trees from the south side of the parking lot area to make room for future parking lot improvements. The trees will be replaced with two trees for every one removed.

Funding for this project is provided by Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) grant for $500,000 and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant for $500,000. Additionally, the Seattle Park District Major Projects Challenge Fund provides $100,000 with the Kubota Garden Foundation providing additional volunteer labor.

Project Schedule:
: 2019
Design: 2020 - 2021
Construction: Early 2022 - Fall 2022

Anticipated Impact:
The completion of the restroom, accessible pathways, and picnic area will impact the south entrance to the garden, the pathways leading from the south entrance to the Terrace Overlook, and access to the picnic area. Seattle Parks and Recreation is working closely with the garden staff and the Kubota Garden Foundation to minimize impacts. When pathways are closed, directional signage leading to alternate routes will be provided.

Kubota Stormwater Study and Parking Lot Expansion

The stormwater study for Kubota Garden is complete and the findings are fascinating! View the Stormwater Master Plan here. Interested to learn more? Take a look at the dynamic and interactive "storymap" and learn about hydrological functions in and around Kubota Garden!

Please stay tuned as we use this information to develop options for stormwater improvements.

This study will develop design options to treat and convey stormwater from the hillside along 55th Ave South into the ponds of Kubota Garden which are part of Mapes Creek. Taylor and Mapes Final Report, May 2020

The stormwater study will be the first step for improving the cleanliness and visual water quality in the ponds of Kubota Garden, by finding ways to reduce and treat the volume and velocity of stormwater flows. Current maintenance practices require dredging of silt and sediment from the ponds.

We are developing environmentally responsive solutions to improve the water quality of the ponds while maintaining base flows into Mapes Creek. Potential areas of work include the Garden, 55th Avenue S and the parking lot. Please visit this website later in the summer to review stormwater solution and parking lot expansion proposal concepts. We need your input as we move forward with these improvements!

This effort is funded by the King County WaterWorks Grant Program, managed by the Kubota Garden Foundation, and is a collaboration with King County, SPU, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and many neighborhood stakeholders. 

Seattle Parks and Recreation will include the parking lot expansion as a phase of the stormwater study project. The parking lot expansion will alleviate capacity issues and will increase accessibility. The parking lot expansion design is funded by the Major Projects Challenge Fund. Construction of the parking lot expansion is not currently funded.

Ishigi Wall

The Ishigaki wall, along with the Gathering Plaza, will welcome visitors and provide a culturally relevant experience upon arrival to Kubota Garden. The Ishigaki wall will be located at the south end of the parking lot and will be built using the same methods used with the Overlook Terrace Ishigaki Wall.  The Overlook Terrace Wall was constructed by stonemasons from Japan as well as artisans from around the Pacific Northwest. The construction method for an Ishigaki wall dates back 15 generations in Japan. 

Kubota Temporary Nursery

This project is underway at the west side of Kubota Garden. It is a small fenced-in holding nursery for native trees and plants that will be used to restore Seattle Parks and Recreation owned natural areas in south Seattle, as well as housing some plant materials that require shade for use in Kubota Garden.

This development of a temporary nursery harkens back to the history of the garden being a working nursery and landscaping business. The plant deliveries will utilize the large service gate on 51st Ave S; watering and maintenance staff will park on the street and use the pedestrian gate. These gates will remain locked to maintain the overall security of the garden.

Recently completed projects, funded by the Major Parks Challenge Fund Grant include:

The Kubota Garden Perimeter Wall

A community-initiated project, the Seattle Park District Major Projects Challenge Fund provided matched funding for design/construction of an expansion to the existing ornamental wall. The project was completed in fall of 2019. The ornamental wall continues the wall built (primarily by volunteers) over the course of the past 15 years. The wall is the same height and has the same beautiful roof and stucco finish as the wall of the entry gate. The additional wall helps secure and protect this Kubota Garden while enhancing the experience of the more than 65,000 people who visit this urban sanctuary each year.

Will the City begin charging admission to get into Kubota Garden?

  • It is crucial that Kubota Garden remains accessible to the public and the over 65,000 visitors annually to the garden. If at some point in the future the City decides to charge admission, we will work with the community on that transition.

Master Plan Update

The Kubota Garden Master Plan Update was completed at the end of 2019 and is a wonderful reflection on the history of the Kubota family, the historic and newer garden spaces and looks ahead as visitorship increases year by year. How to identify and preserve the design intent behind these historic gardens is thoughtfully considered, and a first glimpse of the Visitor Center or Restrooms is included as we need to plan for increased visitors, climate impacts and respecting the history of the garden.

Community Participation

The Master Plan Update involved many people from the community. A summary of the community participation and links to the work during the masterplan update process can be found below.

Preferred Concept Plan - February 2019

Open Houses and Input Opportunities for the Kubota Garden Master Plan Update: June 17 and June 23, 2018

Kubota Garden Master Plan Update: October 13, 2018

Kubota Garden Master Plan Update Workshop Sessions Summary 
(May 7-9, 2018)
Kubota Garden Master Plan Update Schedule
(July 16, 2018)

For more information about the garden and the Kubota Garden Foundation visit http://www.kubotagarden.org.


The Seattle Parks District Major Projects Challenge Fund provided $925,000 for the design/construction of the ornamental wall and the design of the parking lot expansion. The Kubota Garden Foundation funded the Master Plan Update as part of their match.