How To Design A Zen Garden

 Everything You Need for a Zen Garden

Zen Garden Design

A Zen garden means a secluded space in your yard for meditation, yoga, and knowledge acquisition. The space is centered around rocks, muted colors, fountains, and other elements.

A Zen garden is usually separated from the rest of your yard by a hedge, shrub, or bamboo wall. Zen Gardens were initially created as landscaped spaces outside Zen Buddhist temples in Kyoto, Japan. This was during the Muromachi period.

Any home garden can integrate elements of conventional Zen gardens. The size of your yard doesn't matter as much as you make it.

Rock gardens have existed in Japan for over a thousand years. Tachibana no Toshitsuna wrote about Zen gardens in the eleventh century.  The Chinese garden philosophy was adapted into Zen gardens.


For your Zen garden, choose a flat spot in the corner and out of the way. The garden should have contrasting textures from the rest of your yard.

It should be a place where you can let your thoughts wander, do yoga, read a book or find your creative side.
After choosing a site for your Zen garden, measure the space.
Visualize it before you start working on it.
I would encourage looking at a number of Zen gardens before creating your own. You want to be inspired and know what's out there. Read books, watch YouTube videos, and find pictures online. A Pinterest board is a great way to get started. The large vision panel also helps. You can cut photos from magazines and make a photo collage.

There are seven guiding principles for Zen gardens:

Simplicity, cocoa
Simplicity, Gansu
Nature, Shenzhen
disproportionate, focal
Ambiguity or accuracy, Yogan
Charming or funky, Datsuzuku
Hush, Seigaku

Your garden should strive to promote all seven guiding principles. You can do this by opening up the space, adding artwork, adding seating, and arranging the stones.

Designing your garden can help you achieve your goals. If drawing is not your skill, skip this step. If you create a design, you will need to consider size. If you have a small zen garden, large boulders can be overwhelming.

You want to be able to walk comfortably in your garden. It shouldn't be too messy or difficult to get into.

Keep in mind that Zen designs are flexible. There are many ways to farm, and you don't have to stick to all the traditional rules. If it makes you happy and gives you the relief you want, then you're on the right track. This place is for you and your family. If you want community standards and community appeal, create a community zen garden.

A Zen garden gives you a private, quiet space to appreciate beauty and life. Both rocks and pebbles give you the chance to express your soul in nature.

All you need to know about rocks

In a Zen garden, stones can be used to represent different aspects of life. It is very common for stones to be used to represent landscapes and landmarks. Rocks often represent mountains, but can also be used to represent castles, humans, monsters, dungeons, caves, forests, and the universe.

The selection and placement of stones is an integral part of Zen garden design. Sakuteiki, Gardening Records, is an ancient text that lays down specific rules for placing your stones. He warned that if the rules were not followed, unfortunate procedure would follow.

Some of the rules in Sakoteki are:

Make sure all stones are placed on their most attractive side.
If the top of the rock looks unsightly, you can place it on the side where it looks better.
If a stone is seen running, there must be a stone chasing it.
There should be more horizontal stones than vertical ones.
If there are curved stones, then there must be supporting stones.
Classification of rocks
vertical long
less vertical
leaning on
Rocks that look like mountains are usually volcanic rocks. Smooth, rounded sedimentary rocks are commonly used for borders. They are usually added around gravel streams or lakes.

In Chinese gardens, representing the Song dynasty, feature rocks are often the star or central attraction of the garden. This includes rocks that look like animals or have unusual colors. Individuality does not play a central role in Japanese gardens. Instead, Japanese gardens focus on harmony, sharing, and charity.

Stones are rarely set in straight lines or symmetrical patterns. They are often kept in groups of three. Often in a trio of rocks, one large rock represents the Buddha, and two smaller rocks represent his metropolis.

The rocks should vary in color, size, and shape, but avoid rocks with bright colors or other features that distract or draw attention to them.

Swatishi is the practice of placing the same random stones throughout the garden to create a mechanism. Unlabeled rocks and discarded.

Rocks that have been eroded are often used to represent oceans, water, waves, and beaches. Rocks in the water can represent islands or continents.

Famous rock icons
Hooray, the legendary home of the Immortal Eight
cranes in flight
Lion cubs swimming
Engineering principles
sand and gravel
White sand and gravel are also common features of a Zen garden. People will go across the sand to make designs. It is viewed as a meditation and healing practice.

Shrine, temple, and castles have all been represented with white sand in addition to purity and spirit. In many Asian cultures, white is associated with spirituality and the realms of the supernatural.

Gravel is more common in Zen gardens than sand. Gravel is less disturbed by the weather.

Samoan or Hokem is the practice of throwing pebbles into waves or rippling water patterns. Zen priests make these patterns to help focus. Developing pleasing aesthetic patterns is a creative and challenging endeavor. (effort considered feasible).

Shirakawa is a black granite from Kyoto. It is desirable for gardens as it can maintain well-broken drains. But the Shirakawa River is now part of a protected waterway, which makes logging illegal.

Other features of Zen Gardens

Bushes are often used instead of stones.
Moss is used to create a ground cover. Moss-covered rocks belong to the jungle.
The carvings serve as inspiration for meditation. The purpose of art is to allow you to open your mind and allow yourself to daydream.
Your zen garden path should contain different textures than the garden.
Straight tracks look formal. Winding paths encourage slowing down and watching. Zigzag paths are recommended.
The benches should be placed in such a way that you can see the garden.
Water features are often added to block out urban noise. Hearing the falls is gentler on the ears than the honking of cars.
Add lanterns and solar lights. You want the lighting in your Zen garden to be beautiful.

The Plants

You don't want to overwhelm your garden with greenery. Instead of vines and other climbing plants, I would promote plants that stay close to the ground.

Flowers are unusual for a Zen garden. You don't want your zen garden to be overrun with weeds, thistles, and wild plants. These can overwhelm the space. You want plants that are neutral shades of green and are easy to care for.

The plants should be compatible with each other and should blend well. As with rocks, you don't want a plant to attract stars. Everything should flow into a coherent whole.

Plants that I recommend for a Zen garden include: bamboo, creeping ground covers, ferns, mosses, sedges, mushrooms, Japanese maples, and bonsai trees.

Don't neglect your Zen garden.

In general, zen gardens are easy to maintain. You don't have to worry about pruning rose bushes, trimming vines, and supervising your vegetables and fruits. You'll still want to monitor the space and make sure it stays clean.

For any type of garden, neglecting space is a bad thing. In feng shui, neglecting your garden creates negative chi. This can result in rusty materials, spoiled crops, water pollution, and sculptures covered in bird feces.

Rake gravel

It is important to keep the pattern crisp and for the pebbles to look fresh. Digging into the gravel will help you keep an eye on it. It should remove debris, nuts, pollen and dust.

Pick up the leaves

Especially in the fall, your Zen garden can be filled with leaves. You may want to get rid of the leaves, perhaps turning them into mulch for another part of your garden. A Zen garden is a space that minimizes vegetation and focuses on rocks and sediments.


Once a month, shut off any fountains and clean them to remove minerals. Clean the fountain inside and out as much as possible and look for signs of wear or tear or damage to the pumps. You want your glasses to look new, not worn out.

Washing statues

Your sculptures are vulnerable to bird droppings and debris. You should also clean it once a month and check for any signs of damage. If you want something whimsical: add different accessories to your sculptures to liven them up and give them some personality. This includes: necklaces of bells, hats, pearl jewellery, shining stars, or setting them in round stones, etc.

Check the water quality.

You want your water to look clear. You don't want the water to be odorous, cloudy, or otherwise unappealing. A healthy pH level should be present in the water. Leaves should be removed as well as other debris or fallen objects. Ideally, water from fountains, waterfalls, and ponds would flow toward your home. The flow of water is a metaphor for wealth and its flow.


You want to separate your plants from rocks and gravel as much as possible. Occasionally, a few sneaky bushmen might find their way. It is important to get rid of weeds as soon as possible so that they do not spread and destroy your lawn. You don't want weeds to invite themselves into your space and make the garden their permanent home.


Plants should generally be pruned. Pruning, cutting and shaping plants. Remove items that look worn out or that don't fit into a Zen garden.


Cut back the branches, especially if the branches are too close to your home. Cut tall plants. A Zen garden is a horizontal space, not a vertical one.

Donate items.

If you're starting to feel overwhelmed in your Zen garden, you should practice generosity. Consider giving plots from your garden to a new Zen gardener.

You can also exchange pieces. I would like to encourage donation and practice green or sustainable practices with your Zen Garden.

You want your ornamental garden pieces to be respected, not just thrown away. Some pieces may belong in a community vegetable garden or simply within your home.

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