Here's an epic guide and gallery of Zen gardens from all over the world, including Kyoto, Japan and many other temples and properties. 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.
Don’t confuse a Zen garden with a Japanese garden. While Zen gardens are a type of Japanese garden, not all Japanese gardens are Zen gardens.
A Zen garden is one devoid of water. It’s comprised mostly of sand and rocks while other types of Japanese gardens can be lush with shrubs, koi ponds, bridges, etc.
Zen gardens are also referred to as Japanese rock gardens or by the proper name, “karesansui” (dry landscape garden) [source: Insidekyoto.com].
If you’ve never seen a Zen garden, you might think the idea of just a rock/gravel garden sparsely mixed with larger boulders and maybe a few shrubs would be ugly, but it’s quite the opposite. There really is a minimalist, stark beauty to these gardens. They also serve a purpose in the ever changing nature of them as you rake your patterns in them on a regular basis as part of a meditation exercise.
Below we set out a huge collection of the most beautiful Zen gardens in the world (many of course are in Japan). Below that we set out a few miniature Zen gardens for indoors.
As you’ll see below, the main material is sand, gravel, small pebbles or crushed rock (gravel). What’s interesting is there is no one type of rock or rock size used. Some use larger pebbles while others fine sand and everything in between.
Large boulders are used sparingly to create depth and texture in the garden. They serve as sculptures.
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.