Creating Your Own Zen Garden

Creating a Zen Garden at Home

We live at a time where immediate stress relief is almost necessary. While there are a lot of ways to de-stress, the one believed to be most effective is having quick access to nature. Enhance this experience by creating your own zen garden at home.

But what is a zen garden? What is the difference between a normal garden and a zen one? Zen gardens originated in Japan, where they are known as "Karesansui" or "dry landscape gardens". The idea of these gardens developed from ancient Chinese traditions and aesthetics, which were then taken to Japan and adapted to fit the Japanese culture. Zen gardens are designed with a minimalist approach. Sixth century Buddhist monks created the first zen gardens to aid in their meditation. Eventually, they used the space as areas where they teach principles and concepts of zen. Not that abstract or minimalist, but it enhances not just the look of the space but also its vibe.

A typical zen garden features rock arrangements, sand or gravel, and other natural elements like trees, bushes, and water features. The effect that we're looking for is tranquility which evokes a sense of mindfulness.

We share with you a guide for creating your own zen garden:

  • Choose a site
  • Research
  • Learn the guiding principles
  • Make sure it's inviting
  • Elements are key
  • Create small pockets of interest
  • Invite soothing sounds
  • Make it a sensory garden
Choose a site

Choose a site

Will it be the entire backyard or just a small portion of it? Will it be in the front yard or on that pathway from going to the back of the house? Consider the space you will have. Pick an area that is not often accessed by a lot of people; isolating the space adds a different feel to it.



Do your homework and research on what kind of style, design, and elements you would like to incorporate into your garden space. What would the overall look be like? Are you going for aesthetics or atmosphere? 

Although it’s not necessary to include all elements in the your zen garden, choose the ones that would work best for the design you have in your mind. The zen garden should work as a sanctuary and not as a space you can just look at but not use.

Learn the guiding principles

Learn the guiding principles

Creating a zen garden has a set of guiding principles and we’ve listed them down below:

  • Koko - austerity
  • Kanso - simplicity
  • Shizen - naturalness
  • Fukinsei - asymmetry
  • Yugen - mystery or subtlety
  • Datsuzoku - magical or unconventional
  • Seijaku - stillness

As the guiding principles of zen gardens, these are essential when you start building your zen garden.

Make sure its inviting

Make sure it’s inviting

Zen literally means peaceful and calm, an important factor to incorporate in your zen garden. It’s not a sanctuary if it doesn’t call to you.

At the end of a long stressful day, it should be a place that you look forward to spending time on. If things get too heavy for your mental health and you want a space where you can just think and meditate about things, this should be one of the areas that first comes to mind. While our bedrooms are also amazing sanctuaries, nature has great benefits that help rejuvenate us faster.

Elements are key

Elements are key

There are several elements that you need when creating your own zen garden.

  • Rocks. These represent eternity and endurance to weather anything that life throws at you. Play with the shapes and shades of stones to add variety and texture.
  • Gravel. When used in zen gardens, they are usually raked into beautiful patterns that help mental concentration.
  • Screening. Enclose the area especially if it has a section that is connected to a noisy space. 
  • Statuary. Since it originated in Japan, statues of Buddha are a prominent fixture in most zen gardens. For others, lanterns or dragons feel more on point as a representation of what makes you feel relaxed.
  • Pathway. Having a pathway is symbolic to your journey from a stressful event going forward to a zen-like state. Or at least, a calmer state of mind. You can choose whether to make it a winding pathway or a straight one.  You can also try to add small bridges.
  • Seating. A place to sit is a must on most zen gardens because the best way to experience it is to be in its midst. Surrounded by nature, it would feel like you’re transported to a different part of the world away from the chaos of everyday life.
  • Water. The sound of running water has one of the most calming effects in a person. It could be a small pond or a trickling waterfall hidden in a small corner; although not a usual fixture in a zen garden because of the space it requires to have one, having a water element can give more character and make a cozier ambiance to your zen garden.
  • Plants. Use ones that aren’t overwhelming or take up too much space. It’s important that you choose low lying plants and those that creep on the floor of your garden. This will enhance the overall natural look of your zen garden and add texture. You can play with the colors of the flowers and the leaves, and even plant some edible crops. Bamboo is also a nice choice and so are ferns. Depending on what type of landscape you have, you can also try and research the best plants for a zen garden.
Small pockets of interest

Small pockets of interest

Although it needs to feel like a united space for relaxation and rejuvenation, you can create small areas of interest. A hammock on one side where you can lie down and rest; a small circular set of chairs for intimate conversations with friends or family; an open area with yoga mats for you to meditate. All of it will be connected by a pathway.

Soothing sounds

Soothing sounds

It doesn’t have to be music, although if you can find a way to make that a part of your zen garden, that would be great. We’re talking about the sound of water or the tinkling of wind chimes. The sound of the breeze is enhanced by the leaves of your bushes and small trees. Those contribute to the feel of the space.

Sensory garden

Sensory garden

Again, it’s not just the aesthetic of the zen garden that matters but how it feels to you and whoever uses the space. Incorporating interaction for all your senses is important.

Adding a peaceful and tranquil outdoor area, or zen garden, to your property can be an excellent way to relax and unwind. With the assistance of an interior designer, you can create a space that is both beautiful and reflective of the calming influences of nature. From the selection of the right plants and shrubbery, to placing benches in just the right spot or adding a bubbling fountain for soothing background noise, interior designers can help you create an idyllic oasis that is perfect for unwinding after a long day. Transform your yard into a serene sanctuary by letting an interior designer work their magic on your zen garden!

Creating your own zen garden adds the wow factor to your property. Whether or not you plan to sell it in the future, it still adds value to your property, if not in monetary, definitely in substance. 

At a time when everything we need and want can be done with a click of a button, another space for you and your friends and family to spend time together away from gadgets and the internet is a wonderful reprieve.

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