A Zen garden is a type of Japanese rock garden, which usually consists of stones, gravel and boulders. The Zen garden is characterized by its perfect organization, clean lines and elegant look. In Japan, such gardens are called “Kare-san-sui”, which is translated as “dry landscape” or “fake landscape”. For centuries, Japanese monks have used these special gardens to meditate, and today they have become a symbol of Japan’s traditions and culture. If you think of the garden as an oasis of peace, the Japanese rock garden is simply ideal for you. In this article, you’ll find creative ideas and useful tips to help you design your Zen garden.

The zen garden as an island of peace and relaxation

“Zen” means meditative state in Mandarin and Sanskrit. And the Japanese rock garden is really an island of peace and relaxation. Zen gardens have also become very popular in Europe lately, mainly because of the opportunity to escape the stressful everyday life that they offer for a while. There are certain rules for designing such a garden that should be kept. They are linked to the four important elements that are mandatory for every Zen garden – stones, tans, water or sand and moss. Of course, each element has its specific meaning – the trees symbolize life; the stones stand for the animals and are often dedicated to the gods; the water or the sand play the most important role, since they are connected with the energy stream; and finally the moss stands for wisdom and reason.

Unique beauty

A serious reason to design your own Zen garden is not only the relaxing effect, but also its impressive appearance. The Japanese rock gardens have unique beauty, which is due to their increasing popularity. When designing a zen garden, you can even do without water and plants – except for moss. The sand and gravel areas often stand for rivers, streams and lakes. To emphasize this symbolism, the sand areas are provided with wavy lines using a special wooden rake. It is important that the beginning and the end of the lines are not recognizable – they should flow gently into each other. This has a meditative effect and ensures your good relaxation. In a Zen garden geometric shapes are not recommended – everything should look as natural as possible.

Zen gardens are easy to care for and can be put on everywhere

Another reason for designing such a dry garden is that it can be applied anywhere. You can organize your whole garden according to the Zen rules, or just pick a special corner for it. Balconies and terraces are just perfect for creating a zen garden, but you can also opt for a smaller version inside the house – an ideal option for those who do not have their own garden. Another advantage of the Zengärten is that they are particularly easy to care for – especially when gravel is used.

Freedom to interpret

Interestingly enough, most of the Zen rules are general in nature – giving you space to interpret the tradition, and taking into account your personal preferences when designing the garden. For example, you can decide freely on the choice of plants. According to Japanese traditions, the different trees are associated with specific meanings – pine trees, for example, stand for patience and spiritual power. The delicate pink blossoms of cherry trees are typical of Japan and symbolize beauty and purity, while sakura blossoms stand for transience. The bonsais fit very well in a Zengarten – small, aesthetically formed trees with decorative function.

Experience nature firsthand

The Zen garden gives you the opportunity to experience nature first-hand and that is perhaps the most important reason for choosing it. It does not matter if you strictly adhere to the traditions or interpret them – the Zen garden would definitely look magical.

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Jennie Montoya

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