A zen garden is inextricably linked to Japanese gardens, which consist mostly of gravel, stones and boulders. Beautiful in their simplicity and using natural stones to create dynamic curves and lines, these pared back outdoor displays have served monks for centuries, as part of their daily meditation. In Japanese, this special form of garden is called Kare-san-sui, which translates to a dry or fake landscape. Clever stuff!
These dry gardens have also enjoyed a lot of popularity in the western hemisphere and the reasons for this are obvious! On the one hand, this type of garden is fantastically easy to maintain, especially when mainly gravel is used and on the other hand, this type of design looks so visually appealing and forms a quiet oasis outside your own home. If you are looking for a way to escape hectic everyday life, we have ten fabulous zen gardens to show you today and we think that crafting them yourself, instead of asking a gardener to do it for you, will relax you even more! You're going to love what we've found to inspire your own zen garden!
One reason for putting a zen garden in place is that they are so incredibly relaxing! Just picture coming home from work, after a long day, and taking a long and quiet walk around a simple and unfussy space. As you rake the stones, every care will float away and you'll be creating an extra special aesthetic as well!
Zen gardens have meaning intrinsically connected to everything included in the space and the symbolism is staggering. Gravel or sand surfaces represent streams, rivers or the sea, hence they are raked with a special wooden tool, to emulate the shapes of waves. Boulders represent hills and mountains and always try to include odd numbers, as that is more in tune with nature.
Another reason for a embracing a zen garden at home is that they can be created almost everywhere. Here, a zen garden was added to a roof terrace overlooking the river, but you could also choose a miniature version, inside the house. Only have a balcony? That's no problem, set up a mini zen installation. The possibilities are endless!
Can we take a moment to really appreciate the fact that zen gardens have a natural ability to transform even the most gloomy garden into an oasis? Dark, uninspiring areas are instantly rejuvenated, when a zen aesthetic is adopted, meaning that you no longer have to suffer a boring space! Add in the fact that they don't demand huge amounts of sun and you really can cheer up the gloomiest little corners with some zen touches!
For those of you that don't have massive outdoor spaces to play with, a miniature zen garden could be ideal. These are easy to create and provide a fun and easy alternative to major landscaping projects. To create a miniature zen garden, a rectangular frame is usually used, which can be filled with sand, pebbles or semi-precious stones. With a small wooden rake, you can always draw new patterns on the surface, whenever you like or feel the need to embrace a little meditation. If you want, you can also place a bonsai in this small garden.
Speaking of meditation, you don't need to be a practised Yogi or a monk to know that a little calming of the mind does everyone some good and what is a zen garden if not the perfect location for some relaxing and unwinding? The smooth stones, slow raking of sand and running water will all help your mind to leave trivial concerns behind.
The amazing thing about zen gardens is that they always look incredible. This isn't so much the guiding force with the designs, but a wonderful side effect of using so many natural materials and motifs, which come together with a harmony that is impossible to fake. If it calms your mind, it probably looks good to your eyes!
The design of the house here is modern and geometric and the lawn in front of the house is also extremely puristic, giving it the appearance of a zen garden already. A single tree was added, as a focal point, and we think that this is the perfect example of a zen garden reimagined by different cultures, don't you?
Bonsai are small, well-formed and aesthetically shaped saplings that don't fit into regular outdoor schemes, but make perfect sense in a zen garden. Add to the beauty of these unusual trees the fact that they need a lot of care and concentration and you'll see that they are also another guided meditation tool!
Here, you can see the initial design of a zen garden coming to life and it is a protected, private space for a family. The evergreen hedging looks as though it will embrace the whole space, but how did it look, in reality?
It looks amazing! The garden was designed to offer a perfect balance of granite and yew. The granite blocks invite you to sit, while the evergreen edging makes you feel ensconced in your very own private wonderland. There are so few plants here, yet the feeling is overwhelmingly green and relaxing!
The most important reason to choose a zen garden is to reconnect with nature. Allowing yourself the opportunity to trail your fingers in some water, over smooth stones or to feel the ground under your bare feet is vital, so even if you don't follow all the rules for creating a zen garden to the letter, as long as you feel more in tune with yourself and your surroundings, you're doing it right!
For more garden ideas, take a look at this article: 10 stunning garden ideas.