Interior Design • November 20, 2019
How To Create A Zen Garden?
Written by: Zunaira Ghazal
Our stalwarts curate some brilliant ideas to create the most iconic & stylish Zen Garden ever. Transform your garden to heaven & experience absolute bliss!
A Zen garden is a type of landscape formation inspired by the Japanese rock gardens. It features careful arrangement of different elements in a well-presented landscape/hardscape fusion. Let’s take a look at all the elements you can use to design your very own Zen garden:
1. Rock stacks
Stacked rocks are a kind of a trademark Zen garden “graffiti.” It basically means that you don’t have to harm the environment to make a statement or mark your presence. These garden rock sculptures can be a classic addition to a beautiful Zen garden – especially when you want to get more hands-on with the landscaping!
2. Pebble pathways
Raked sand is referred to as Karenagare in the Japanese culture. It’s an important component of a Zen garden. It’s one of the most prominent design elements of Japanese rock gardens and helps differentiate them from typical green spaces. As soon as you see a stream of white sand and pebbles, you’ll immediately know you’ve entered a Zen garden. You can create pathways with them or even place them at the foot of your water bodies.
3. Rock Garden
The art of Karesansui refers to the placement of rock sculptures within a Zen garden. They’re sculpturally symbolic and used as a statement piece to break the monotony of all that raked sand. Rock sculptures are also used to represent the five elements of metal (with low-height Reisho rocks), wood (tall Taido rocks), water (Shintai rocks), fire (Shigyo rocks), and earth (Kigyaku rocks)!
4. Bamboo plantations
Bamboo is symbolic of strength, flexibility, and good health. Its fast-growth and slim countenance make it the perfect choice to complement your Zen garden. Instead of typical fences that would definitely take away from the overall garden rock aesthetic, you can plant a bamboo wall to keep everything thematically balanced. You can bet that their unique look will add a lot of beauty to your Zen garden!
5. Flagstone Pathways
Since most of the scenery in a Japanese rock garden typically consists of raked sand, you must create suitable pathways on top of it – especially if you like taking peaceful strolls. Rugged, flat-surfaced flagstones are a great way to do that. They help generate a walkable pathway while keeping up with the overall atmosphere of the Zen garden.
6. Tranquil Water Body
Have you ever noticed how calm the sound of running water actually is? It instantly tunes you in with nature and makes all your worries evaporate. It’s the perfect sound to listen during some casual meditation. This is why you definitely need to have a flowing water body in your Zen garden.
While large estates have lush ponds floating with stunning lotus flowers and leaves, you can definitely opt for a small-scale fountain if you’re working with a small space. Remember: you just need the sound of water – larger sized water bodies are just a bonus!
7. Koi Pond
Aside from garden rocks and large water bodies, you can incorporate a small koi pond within your Zen garden. It’s not a requisite element, but it does bring a sense of peaceful movement within the stillness of the garden scape.
Moreover, koi fish represent good luck, perseverance, and abundance in the Japanese culture, so the symbolization is always a great addition.
8. Serene Buddha Statue
Japanese rock gardens are largely designed to promote a meditative ambience – and nothing beats that more than a serene Buddha statue. You can create an entire alcove around the stature that consists of cool planters, garden rocks, and even lantern lights.
9. Japanese Lantern Lights
Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay
Nightscape is a huge trend. It basically includes outdoor lighting techniques that can brighten up space during the night. You can artfully place a number of Japanese lantern light fixtures around and about your Zen garden so that you can keep enjoying the serene views even at night. They’re either finished in wood and rice paper or made completely out of stone composites (maybe even stone textured fibreglass). This helps these lights fit right into the themed garden area quite seamlessly.
10. Low Growing Moss
Of course, a garden is never complete without its basic greens, but what kind of plants can you introduce in the mostly-dry landscape of a Zen garden? The answer is moss and other low-growing natural plants. They help contrast the stone hardscaping and provide a lush aura that helps evoke a calm, serene, and tranquil vibe whenever you experience it. For reference, you can check out both Acrocarps (upright mosses) and Pleurocarps (flat mosses).
11. Sitting Area
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You can’t really enjoy your Zen garden if there isn’t a place for you to sit down and experience the view. There are a lot of ways you can design seating spaces throughout your garden, but it all depends on the amount of space you have. Larger Japanese rock gardens can have an entire engawa style enclosure. It’s basically a semi-covered space that’s not covered with tatami mats. You can place a low-table here to enjoy some tea during your retreat.
Medium-sized Zen gardens can have a small gazebo with a Japanese style roof. Small Zen gardens can just make do with a small bench – even a small slat of wood is enough to enjoy the view if your orient it right.
12. Red Bridge
Red bridges have special cultural relevance in the Japanese culture, which is why they’re considered an important component of a Zen garden. They represent “wisdom and transformation.” You can reinvent one in any sized Zen garden if you can get the proportions right. When scaled according to space, a red bridge can bring a spark of bright contrast within the otherwise neutral themed Zen garden.
So, these are all the special components that the Japanese masters have been incorporating in their gardens for a long time now. You can choose your pick from these to emulate in your own Zen garden project!