Creating a relaxing Zen garden where you can feel at peace and calm doesn’t have to be tricky. Read on for some easy tips on how to bring some zen to your garden for a tranquil experience.
Create a dry landscape for authenticity
Traditionally a Zen garden (karesansui) is a minimalist dry landscape with rocks, gravel, sand and other natural elements with very few plants. There’s no reason why you can’t create a traditional styled Zen garden which has the added benefits of being an all-season garden which needs little maintenance. This is going to be particularly relaxing if you have a busy lifestyle and the last thing you want to do when home or on your days off is have to maintain a busy garden. Instead, keep things minimal and be decorative with sand, rocks, gravel, wood and other hard landscape materials to create an interesting, but relaxing and low-maintenance outdoor space.
If you don’t want to commit your entire garden to dryscaping then you can always pick a relaxing area of your garden for this purpose. It will be the perfect spot to read a book or meditate.
Make seating and comfort a priority
If you are able then sitting on the ground cross-legged to enjoy your zen space is ideal, but if not then your perfect Zen garden won’t be very relaxing unless you have a comfortable seating area to rest in whilst enjoying the views. Opt for some of this luxury rattan furniture, hanging chairs or garden hammocks you can gently sway in, or to keep things traditionally in theme with your Zen garden, add a simple stone bench or wooden seat.
Add potted plants which are easy to look after
Traditional Zen gardens have very few plants and those they do have are well pruned. One easy way of adding plants to your Zen garden is to add plants and bushes in pots. The pots limit how large the plants will grow which enables you to easily keep them under control with little work adding to the low-maintenance appeal. Choose stone pots that blend in with the natural colour of the rocks.
For trees think Japanese maples and bonsai to complement the theme. To screen off your zen garden use bamboo. Low level plants are most recommended such as spreading plants and moss.
Break the tradition and add a water feature
Traditionally Zen gardens did not have a water feature, but nowadays we seem to associate a calming garden space with the relaxing sound of water. There are many beautiful water fountains made of natural elements such as rocks that fit perfectly into a zen hardscaped garden design.
If you want to remain authentic then don’t add a real water feature. Instead create your own ‘karetaki’ (dry waterfall). Use large upright rocks and smaller rocks beneath with a trail of gravel or sand raked to represent a waterfall.
Don’t go overboard
The whole idea of a traditional Zen garden is to create a place of calm to soothe the body and mind. Whilst there are so many features you can add to your Zen garden, keep things minimal and simple instead. If the space gets too cluttered then your mind will be overwhelmed. It’s more things to maintain and more things to keep the eyes and mind busy. Keep the space uncluttered. Less is more.
Rocks and raked gravel
These two elements are at the forefront of a traditional Zen garden. The strategically placed upright rocks represent islands or mountains whilst horizontal stones represent water. The carefully controlled raked gravel symbolises water. You can use pebbles decoratively and use small stones/gravel to separate the rock sculptures as the flooring. You can also use sand instead of gravel to rake into a pattern to represent the sea. Raking sand or gravel is meant to be purposeful. It’s time to be mindful and contemplate. The traditional Zen Buddhist monks created Zen gardens for meditation.
Include paths and bridges for access
Using wood, gravel and stepping stones, make sure you include a simple pathway or bridge to access your Zen garden and for easy maintenance.
Zen gardens are the perfect place to reduce stress, improve focus and develop your wellbeing. Why not follow some of these tips and bring a little zen to your outdoor space?
5 thoughts on “Relaxing zen garden ideas”
Totally agree that comfortable seating is a must. In a spot where you can really enjoy the view. I’d love a bridge but I don’t think it would suit my garden.
These are beautiful. I like the idea of a monolith as a focal point.
Wow looks beautiful!
I would love a Zen garden, especially now that I am home more, comfortable seating, a water feature and a good book sounds wonderful.