A Zen garden is a Japanese rock garden where some natural and simple elements are combined to form a stark, tranquil and symbolic garden. Zen gardens are composed of two major elements; rocks and sand. Sometimes, gravel is also used in place of sand. Other elements like ornamental trees, grass and various interesting elements are used around the Zen garden.
During the 14th century, the Zen Buddhist priests built ascetic gardens for appreciation of beauty and meditation. The specialty was that these gardens had no features representing water. The priests cleverly created the feeling of water with the help of rocks and raking them to get a feel of ripples.
Today, there have been a lot of additions and modifications using elements like bridges, ponds, art pieces and lighting. Most of the gardens have a rich Asian tradition and mostly focus on the minute details of nature. Though you may have a feel of simplicity at the first glance, the depth and complexity unfold only when you begin studying the space in detail. If you are looking for a peaceful and serene outdoor space, then a Zen garden is the way to go. The best thing is that you can easily maintain this type of garden.
Key components of a Zen garden
Stone: Boulders and stones are considered as islands in the Japanese garden. Stones are used for applications from stepping pads to bridges. It is the structural basis of the landscape design.
Pebbles: Pebbles are seen in various sizes from pea-sized to that of a potato. They can be used for creating fields, base plane for an art or an outline for pathways.
Sand and gravel: Sand and gravel are used for creating a metaphor for water. They are used for making dry beds or even creating beds with a rippled or flowing effect. They are also used for covering areas on the ground for organizing the plants.
Bamboo fences and panels: Bamboo fences and panels are used for creating incredible design structures. They are used as straight rods or even as intricate patterns to enhance the overall visual pattern of the garden.
Water: Streams, ponds and waterfalls are some decorative elements in modern Zen gardens. These are created in a natural way by incorporating rocks and plants. The ponds often house koi fish.
Tea ceremony basin: The tea garden of Japan features a special path from the gate to the teahouse. There is a water basin along with bamboo utensils for the ritual washing. The basins are hollowed out of rock or decorative stones, bronze or ceramic.
Pagoda lights: The lights were originally made of carved stone to hold candles or oil lamps. The artistic and elegant pagoda shaped lighting is created in various sizes to decorate the garden.
Buddha: Figures of Buddha in various cultural forms also adorn various areas of the garden.
How to create a Zen garden
1. Define the space by deciding the area you want to transform into a Zen garden. Provide rough edges instead of using straight lines.
2. Sketch a design of the garden you want. For this, you can even take the help of the internet and download the plans. After getting a basic idea of the topography, landscape and water, you have to choose the plants.
3. A Zen garden is not completely filled with plants. Choose appropriate plants that can become the center of attraction in your garden.
4. The plants you choose have to reflect the seasonal changes. Cherry blossoms and Azaleas represent spring. The Japanese maples represent the fall. During the rest of the year, the garden does not have much of flowers and the importance is shifted to evergreen plants. They offer a unique appeal and evergreen attraction. You can even place some perennial flowers judiciously without damaging the traditional landscape.
What is so great about the Zen Garden?
A Zen garden requires very little maintenance. It is a low cost addition to any property that has a lot of health and wellness benefits. A Zen garden is a perfect place for relaxing the body and mind. It is also a specialized place for activities like meditation. If you are looking out for a calm, serene and quiet atmosphere, you need to have a Zen garden. It has a special attraction and an enigmatic character. There is no need of a wide range of elements to set up this garden. Most of the elements are natural and easily obtained. It can be set up in any kind of space like a corner of your garden, a balcony etc. The whole design depends on the creator.
Zen gardens are used for relaxing the mind, body and soul. Such gardens have become a part of the stress relieving products industry where small versions of the gardens are available to public. These desktop Zen gardens may have the beauty and feel of the original version but do not actually provide the real feel of meditation or environment.
1. Rocks are found everywhere. Choose three to four big rocks to your garden area.
2. Adding a bridge to your garden may be quite tricky. But a bridge helps you to bring the 'wow' factor in the overall visual appeal.
3. Pathways that circulate in the garden are very meaningful. Walking on these paths gives you great relaxation.
4. Lanterns should be use appropriately without overdoing. It should provide enough light at the same time give a calming effect as well.
5. Water is always minimalistic. Adding a miniature pond can be more than enough.
6. Use a small sandbox within your garden where you can enjoy for some time.