Zen-Garden: Design ideas, inspiration & pictures

To be able to understand how to create a Zen Garden, we must first understand the meaning of Zen and the purpose of its garden.

Zen Garden

It is also known as THE JAPANESE ROCK GARDEN.

(KARESANSUI: DRY LANDSCAPE) A miniature landscape with carefully arranged elements to represent the essence of nature. (Not its true image) This type of garden is an aid to the practice of meditation. Creating a zen gardens is “Ishi wo tateru koto” or The act of setting stones up right.

What is Zen?

A Belief that emphasizes rigid self control and is closely related to the ideas of minimalism. To be able to achieve such discipline, there is much needed practice. This practice is called MEDITATION. Through this practice a sense of awakening, your true nature, a liberated way of living and the true meaning of life is said to be achieved.

What are the Different elements of a Zen Garden?

Each element represents a part of nature. The surface is divided into two or three areas. It is dependent on the creator how much per area is allocated.

The first element is Earth. Composed usually of soil where sometimes plants or moss is to take root. The amount of space used for the area of soil directly affects the use of plants and accessories

The next element is “Water”. Represented or Composed of gravel or sand. This is where meditation by way of raking is practiced. The Gravel or sand is raked to represent ripples in water. Raking a Zen Garden is different from normal yard work; it is an exercise in calming the mind.

The main event of any Zen Garden is its “Mountains” which could also represent any important symbolism such as the Buddah or a Boat, an Animal or creature. Whatever you choose for it to be symbolize will be the highlight of the garden. These are commonly Composed of Rocks. Preferably Rough rock, with sharp edges, course with a lot of character. Traditional garden custom warns to stay away from colored rock since the take away the focus of the meditator.

How to Plan a Zen Garden?

The first thing you have to decide on is which element you would like to dominate your garden. The Elements representing Earth, Water, Mountain, supporting accessories such as plants, sculpture, lights, bridges and paths can all achieve a balance to meet the needs of the meditator. There are Zen-gardens that use plants sparingly. Carefully placing bushes, shrubs, bonsais or small trees in key spots. Accessibility to the soil area should be considered for easy pruning, trimming and plant care. You can always consult Gardeners to know what what advisable plants to use and how to care for them.

The amount of Gravel or sand is directly relative to the amount of (Raking) meditation you intend to do. Remember, it is through your meditation that you will keep the area of this garden clean through Raking.

The focus of any zen garden is the Grouping of Rocks that seem to have captured the modern crowd to this ancient method of creating gardens. The concept of less is more has never been so true in this way of design. Common groupings of usually two or three (Triad) large stones is strategically placed where it may feel like it is random and unsymmetrical yet it is exactly where it suppose to be. Professional Landscape-architects can help you with planning your plot of any size.

Garden historian Gunter Nitschke wrote: "I consider it to be an abstract composition of "natural" objects in space, a composition whose function is to incite meditation.”

How to Personalize a Zen Garden?

A supporting cast of accessories can help you express a part of yourself. Carefully curated elements should make it feel like your own. Sculptures of natural materials are a great addition. The key in choosing these pieces is keeping your items of natural materials like stone or wood. Well chosen slabs, drift wood or even pottery could also be added.

In any space, Lighting it up adds a whole new level of play. With illumination, through Lamps, Lanterns or Candle holders, Gardens can be appreciated even after the sun has set. Night lit gardens have a very relaxing atmosphere where the viewer is placed in a calm disposition to prepare for the nights sleep.

What are the “add ons” of a Zen Garden?

If you want to take your garden to the next level. Adding a water element is a great way to bring more dynamism. The stirring of fish in these bodies of water will definitely give you another value to your meditation. Adding fish will help with avoiding wrigglers in stagnant waters. A carefully placed seat or bench by a tree or near the pond is a great way to immerse a person to fully appreciate being amidst a sanctuary. Wooden Bridges across bodies of water and Stone Paths for crossing areas to transport from one place to the next gives the viewer a panoramic experience of the Garden you have created.