Create a Zen Garden at Home in 7 Steps

For some people, their gardens are a place of refuge, intimacy, and peace. Others utilize splashes of color to create a vibrant flower garden, while some enjoy the calming vibes of Japanese zen gardens. Known for the minimalist approach, Japanese rock or zen gardens are suitable for seeking inner peace and reconnecting with nature. Zen gardens are also easier to maintain as they need little to no seasonal change and focus more on hardscaping.

Yearning for some inner peace amid the uncertain times we’re facing today? Here are seven tips you can use to build a zen garden at home based on a few Zen principles.

Select a Flat Area in Your Garden

Choose a flat area in your yard to build your zen garden. If your backyard is walled, it is best to place it against a wall, as traditional zen gardens are secluded spaces. Selecting a flat area for your zen garden will also make it easy to lay sand, gravel, and stones on the surface. The flat ground also creates clean, crisp, straight lines that are usually found on zen gardens.

Choose the Right Plants

Plants in general have good benefits to your health and wellbeing. They are also a great way to make your garden look refreshing and inviting. Analyze which parts of your zen garden receive a lot of sunlight and which parts are shady. Doing so helps you determine which plants to introduce to your garden and where to place them. Some of the most common plants in traditional zen gardens are azaleas, bamboo, hostas, irises, hydrangeas, wisteria vines, and lotuses. 

Add a Meditation Area

Build a pagoda-like gazebo with wood panels and pillars to recreate the traditional Japanese hall. Add a rug, a short-legged table, and a few benches outside where you can sit and relax. Place a deck where you can relax while feasting your eyes on the calming ripples and swirls of your sand and gravel area.

Living in a high-rise building? Some condominium developments have unit decks in the balcony areas that can be transformed into a Japanese-inspired space, making them perfect as alternative zen spaces if you don’t have the traditional backyard. You can also choose a small unused corner indoors. 

Scale Your Elements

When building your zen garden, play with scale to assess which features will overwhelm or create balance in your meditation space. For example, many zen gardens incorporate boulders and stones with sand, gravel, and moss. Adding massive stones may overpower other elements in your zen gardens, such as the plants, the shrine, or the balance.

Add Lights

Lighting is often an overlooked feature of gardening. Place some pagoda lanterns on the corners of the sand and gravel area, in your meditation area, or along the pathway to light your path. Place smaller lanterns on the trees to make it look like fireflies are in your garden. A zen space will look even more beautiful with these elements carefully added in, providing not just a place for relaxation but also appreciation. 

Place Sand and Gravel

Perhaps the field of sand and gravel is the most prominent and essential part of a zen garden. Water isn’t an integral part of Japanese rock gardens, so the sand and gravel patterns mirror ripples of water and waves. Use a wooden rake to create swirls, curves, and straight lines as a way to meditate and focus. 

Keep it Clean and Simple

Because zen gardens are meant for relaxation and concentration, this space should be kept uncluttered and simple. Use a few statement pieces to couple with your plants, such as one or two pagoda lanterns, a Buddha statue, or a smooth boulder. Pick up leaves and remove weeds from the ground, plants, and the gravel area. Prune your plants to make them look neat and clean, like the rest of your zen garden.

Overall, creating a zen garden means incorporating balance, calmness, and simplicity into your design. Sure, zen gardens are simple and minimalist, but with these seven helpful tips, you’ll create the perfect Japanese rock garden for meditation and aesthetics. With this, your outdoor space will be even more conducive for rest and relaxation, and anytime you feel the need to take a breather, you will have a dedicated space to go to. 

In the new normal, the home becomes the work space as well as the meditation space. This is just one of the many ways our home has transformed. Learn how the home space is transforming to cater to each family’s needs on Lamudi’s upcoming roundtable discussion. 


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