Saikei is so closely associated with Bonsai that it's difficult to define the differences, so let's try!.
Saikei generally use more than one tree, and may indeed use several species. Bonsai groups should only ever use one species.
Trees used in Saikei are generally smaller and younger than their Bonsai counterparts although all of the techniques used on a bonsai will be used on the trees in a saikei. It is not unusual for Saikei to contain plants other than trees (grasses for example) to imitate other larger plants, nor is it unusual to include small flowering plants (alpines for example).
Saikei may use figures (people, bridges, temples and such) a Bonsai should never be shown with such an ornament (look if you really want to do that sort of thing take up Military modelling. I promise you'll find it a rewarding pastime). A Bonsai is isolated from the landscape to show of its best features, with Saikei the landscape is emphasised. Rocks are used as mountains in Saikei, with a Bonsai a rock would be used in close association with the tree.See Styles(root on rock)
Like Bonsai Saikei can be planted in slabs. White sand is used to represent water, often flowing through the landscape.
Saikei pots tend to be large and shallow, perhaps the most unusual type of container the suiban is used in Saikei.
This tray has a divider and one part of the pot has no holes. Unlike other Bonsai pots it is glazed on the inside. The glazed part is filled with water to symbolize the sea or a lake.
Here we have a Suiban with a Saikei. the sand was wetted with water
© Allen. C. Roffey 13:37 29/04/2018