ZEN GARDEN OR YOUR-GO-TO GARDEN

You’ve got a backyard garden and you’ve got some plants, on top of it you’ve got some boulders but what is really lacking in your home decor is a meditating place. Not to worry because with ingredients like this you can turn your home garden into a Zen garden in no time. If you are tired of constantly looking at the dry interior design of your balcony garden then Zen garden should be your go to. Any landscape architect who chooses to be with nature spiritually and interprets the word symbolically is a good candidate for this kind of garden. It’s extremely low maintenance but requires loads of hard work.

In ancient Japan, Buddhist monks developed Zen garden to represent a miniature landscape garden. Keeping this in mind, they incorporated all the components of nature- white gravels to represent ocean waves, huge boulders to represent mountains, small rounded or flat rocks to represent islands and plants to represent greenery and island vegetation. Zen gardens are quite different from rock gardens but because of their heavy reliance on rocks, sometimes they’re also called “Japanese rock garden”. Some of the tools and supplies required to implement this gardening idea are:

  • Rocks or boulders- large rocks and boulders are the most important feature of any Zen garden as they give it a traditional touch. However if you’ve got a small space then it’s better to avoid huge rocks and boulders so the space doesn’t look overcrowded. 
  • White gravel or a water feature– to represent water, an actual garden water feature or white gravels have been used since centuries. One thing to keep in mind if you’re opting for sand instead of gravels is that sand tends to easily blow around with wind or get washed away with heavy rain. If your garden is in a protected area then choosing sand is a decent option but it’s still advisable to use crushed gravels or rocks.
  • Plants- these are considered to be optional as a traditional Zen garden might not always incorporate plants within it. However, it’s advisable to opt for hardy plants like cacti and succulents that can survive better in hot conditions. Creeping thyme, Moss, Chinese lanterns, Ferns etc can also be used to give a green touch to your Zen garden.
  • Focal element (optional)-Zen gardens are specifically used for meditation purpose and hence any focal element like a bench or a statue can aid with its relaxation process.

 The term gardening is often considered synonymous to growing  plants but a Zen garden which does not necessarily revolve around garden plants should in no way be equated to less hard work. The sky is the limit when it comes to gardening however one should remember that the larger they go, the more complex the project would be. To balance this problem out, following are the steps to create an easy miniature Zen garden:

  1. Clear the space- The first step of creating a Zen garden requires you to choose an area from your front or back yard that would compliment your house design. It’s important to clear out all the plants, grass or weed of that area so you can easily rake the soil there. The next step is to edge your garden that would prevent the weeds to creep in again. Plastic can be a good source of edging if you are working on a budget, otherwise opting for some decorative edging like rocks can also work their magic.
  2. Add the elements- If you have a planter, a bench or a statue that you want to incorporate then make sure you figure out its placement first. A Zen garden is the definition of simplicity and hence it’s important not to add too many elements that can destroy the garden’s authenticity. Sketching your design on a paper first can help you figure out all of this in a much better way.
  3. Add the water feature- The white gravels have been used in a Zen garden traditionally to represent water flow and therefore if one opt for these gravels then they should lay it in a curved pattern as water never flows in a straight line. The best part about this is that you can rake it and draw flowing patterns in the gravel to help with the meditation. A garden fountain can also be included instead of the gravels but it shouldn’t overpower the whole beauty and simplicity of the garden.
  4. Add the plants- This is a completely optional step but there are no set rules when it comes to designing a garden. Hence, if you’re a sucker for greenery then you can either add a few potted plants or plant the seeds right into the garden. Succulents and cacti would go a long way but they shouldn’t make the garden look overgrown when the plants fill in.
  5. Use smaller stones- This is the last step that gives a final touch to your newly created Zen garden. It’s advisable to use medium sized grey river rocks and lay them over the top of the soil. You can create a pattern with them, lay them flat or simply place them vertically next to each other till they cover every little spot of the soil.

This is it for the steps, now all you do is sit back and enjoy. The greatest perk of having a Zen garden is that even if you won’t use it regularly, it can still become your “thinking place”. Turn your balcony or empty spaces into your thinking place with zen garden. While some gardeners are more concerned with exploiting colour theory, Zen gardeners have the ability to take advantage of cool colours like lavender and blue that can leave a calming and a serene impact over the whole of the backyard. If you work a lot or can’t usually make time for gardening then this low-maintenance Zen garden can come in handy especially if you are going for a succulent Zen garden or just a traditional “Japanese Zen rock garden” without any plants. To sum it up, this kind of garden not only caters to those who lack time but also to those who have been having a hard time dealing with a trouble spot in their yard where little else will grow.

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