Here's an epic guide and gallery of Zen gardens from all over the world. This gallery includes all kinds of crushed rock used from fine sand to course gravel. Also, many patterns and other elements are included - many great ideas.
There are so many beautiful garden ideas out there, and garden design is usually centred around not only the plant life and natural elements of a specific region of the world, but also around the culture and how people spend their time.
Today, we’re going to go over the classic zen garden. This is an absolutely stunning example of Japanese art that incorporates both gardening, and meditative practices. We’ll go over a little bit of history and the details of what a zen garden really is, along with some stunning photo examples to give you inspiration for your own outdoor (or indoor) space.
What is a Zen Garden?
Classic zen gardens have been around for a very long time, and was originally created by a Buddhist monk in a zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto during the Muromachi period. The zen garden design was created to imitate the essence of nature.
A zen monk would enter a zen garden with the intent to meditate. The quiet serenity of the space was and is the perfect place to quiet the mind and reflect on the zen principle. A Buddha statue would also sometimes be incorporated into a traditional Japanese zen garden.
The zen garden imitates the essence of nature, kind of as a miniature, of labelled as “dry” landscape. This mini zen garden can appear as a small scale planet, with sand representing earth, moss representing land, and larger rocks representing mountains.
The Sakuteiki, which is the first ever record of zen gardening, uses the expression ishi wo tateru koto, which translates to “the act of setting stones upright”. The placement of rocks in a classic zen garden is very significant, and rocks are even put into specific categories: tall vertical, low vertical, arching, reclining, or flat.
Another important aspect of the classic zen garden is sand, gravel, or pebble. These materials are used to represent water, and they are often raked to created a ripple pattern. This practice is known samon or hokime.
As all things do, the overall appearance and materials used of a zen garden has changed over the course of time. Though the minimalistic design has been maintained, more modernized gardens will include a water feature, white sand or white gravel, succulent plant species, stepping stones, bamboo, and much more.
More and more, people are replacing their high maintenance lawn with even a small garden, and if you happen to live in a place that can only grow specific plant species, the zen garden might be the perfect option for you.
As you’ll see below in the photo examples, the main materials used to create a zen garden are:
white sand or white gravel (sometimes small pebbles)
small water features
Large boulders are used sparingly to create depth and texture in the garden. They serve as sculptures and are meant to represent tall mountains.
Many of these gardens are surrounded by lush garden landscapes that incorporate water, bridges, various trees and plants, moss and shrubs of all types.
Get inspired to create your own Zen garden in your backyard from the many designs and examples below.
There are truly no rules when it comes to a zen garden design. It is usually easiest to pick a large attractive rock and have everything radiate out from there.
Prepping the Space
You’ve probably noticed that the main and most important aspect of the zen garden is a look of minimalism and that it is very manicured. This means that it does require some maintenance to achieve the desired look.
This also means that there should be no weeds. The easiest way to get your zen garden started is by doing the following:
Your garden space should be stripped of all weed, grass, and plant life first. Pick a spot on your property and outline the intended shape.
Strip away all of the plant life until there is just soil.
Cover the soil with weed proof landscaping fabric and hold it in place by covering the area with either pebbles, gravel, or sand.
Leave empty space for the areas where you intend to plant your shrubs and trees and other plants.
From here, place your larger rocks first and organize the smaller ones from there.