Since you have the opportunity to start fresh, take time to ask about some of the primary Japanese garden considerations.
-Purpose: Is "place of serenity" the main idea to be expressed?
-Relationships: to environment, site, community, owners
-Perspective: views to select, control, create
-Use of space: particularly "ma", horizons
-Transitions: openings, closures, experiences
There's a lifetime of delight to be explored while deciding "how, then, shall we live"?