A zen garden, originating in Japan, shows how even a space that consists mostly of gravel, stones and boulders. It’s dubbed as karesansui in Japanese, which roughly translates to dry or even spurious landscape. Such spaces are associated closely with tranquility, especially since they have long served monks as a setting for their meditation.
It is this purpose that has made it increasingly popular in modern times and throughout the world. A zen garden is a relaxing place to spend time in and having one in the residence means a beautiful oasis is only a few steps away. Plus, these dry gardens take less time and money to set up, and far easier to maintain. With the help of a trusted landscape architect, this outdoor sanctuary can be yours for the taking.
What is a zen garden and why do you need one? See for yourself in our list of 10 best reasons why it’s time to build one in your backyard.
One of the main reasons why homeowners dream of a zen garden is its relaxing effect on the mind and spirit. Many zen gardens share common materials such as rock and gravel. Other choose to add other factors such as moss and water. Water, after all, is an element that radiates peace and tranquility.
To simulate the relaxing properties of this element, designers often draw wavy lines on the garden’s gravel or sand surface with a wooden rack. These waves, which provides the illusion of oceans or rivers, inspires an atmosphere of utmost serenity. As much as possible, it’s important that the beginning and end of these lines cannot be defined. Instead, the lines should flow gently and continuously into each other. In general, forms should be natural instead of being too geometric.
Another reason for a zen garden at home is that it can be built anywhere. In this featured home, the garden was built on the roof terrace providing additional value of a beautiful view. The home is located near a body of water – the perfect scenery for a Japanese-inspired outdoor space. However, an indoor version of a zen garden can work just as well.
The typical wave pattern was not used in this garden, but the shape of the gravel surface looks like a large wave.
Another plus for having a zen garden is that it transforms even the most gloomy outdoor spaces into a beautiful oasis that can do wonders for the residents’ well-being. Here, a drab exterior was revamped into a restful garden. Boulders, moss and a bamboo fence take inspiration from Japanese gardens.
One of the best things about dry gardens is these spaces don’t need any particular weather conditions to grow and thrive. On the contrary, since this type of garden consists of stone and gravel, it can actually bring life into the most inhospitable corner of the residence.
For those who do not have the space for their own garden, miniature ones are ideal. These are easy to construct, and provides a playful way to bring the serenity of zen gardens in small pockets around the home. A rectangular frame is usually picked out, then filled with sand, pebbles and semi-precious stones that add a jolt of color to the design. Swirls and patterns can be drawn on the surface.
Here, a miniature water lily pond was laid between pebbles. This can be achieved in any spot of the house whether its an indoor corner or a bigger space outside.
Japanese gardening has long been celebrated, and for good reason. It’s not simply for aesthetic purposes, but to encourage the feeling of tranquility in the living space. It plays a big role in daily life of monks – and can be instrumental in bringing some measure of peace in your daily life as well. Spend a few minutes every day in your own zen garden to clear your mind of stresses and worries.
While there is an established aesthetic for zen gardens, you can simply incorporate it in your existing garden as finishing touches. The wonderful thing about creating your own space is having the freedom to adopt the elements you like.
In the garden above, flourishing plants and a pond combined with distinctly Japanese influence. It is not quite traditional karesansui, but the space was able to achieve a harmonious balance between nature and cultivation. All of the elements come together to create a sanctuary that puts the mind and spirit at ease, which is the purpose and meaning of a zen garden regardless of how much it adopts traditional and modern elements into the design.
As seen in the featured photo, a zen garden doesn’t have to be limited to a traditionally Japanese-inspired home. It can work beautifully in any home, but especially in modern residences such as this one. In fact, the clean lines and pristine minimalism of contemporary design work incredibly well with the simplicity of zen gardens.
Bonsai, small, well-formed and aesthetically shaped saplings, are very popular. While they may not always fit in a traditional dry garden, they’re essential in Japanese-inspired homes. If you’re interested in injecting a Japanese flair in your outdoor space without necessarily adopting the zen garden look entirely, planting a few of these decorative mini-trees is ideal.
It’s important to seek the help of professional gardeners, or at least do some research. Bonsai often require special light and weather conditions, and many thrive in certain places only. To grow and thrive, your utmost attention and care is necessary.
This is the design for a Japanese garden, a protected, private space for the family. Behind flourishing shrubs and trees, the evergreen sitting area is hidden from prying eyes so the residents can spend time here in total peace.
Here is the finished product, a garden designed with granite and abundant greenery. Surrounded by nature, it’s easy to achieve tranquility in this outdoor area.
The most important reason to go for a zen garden is to experience nature in all its beauty. It does not matter whether you adhere to the strict requirements of traditional zen gardens or simply integrate plants and water into the design. The main thing is that you can feel good in this outdoor space and find harmony in yourself and nature.
Find out how to incorporate more natural elements into your outdoor space in this list of 19 beautiful garden designs using stone.