Japanese Zen rock garden
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What Makes
A Zen Garden Unique And How To Start One
Japanese Zen rock gardens, or karesansui (translated as "dry-mountain-water"), originated in Japan during medieval times and are designed to create a tranquil, meditative space.
Unlike regular gardens, they’re composed of rocks, gravel, and wood — with few plants. Stones are the primary focus and signify four elements: mountains, trees, water, and fire.
Not just for aesthetics, each element represents some aspect of life and has a purpose. Raking the gravel into patterns is a contemplative activity designed to gain perspective.
Zen gardens are low maintenance compared with sustaining living plants, and having one in a home is a great selling point for potential buyers, according to Everything Backyard.
To start your own Zen garden, it’s important to select the best location to ensure your garden is an oasis free from distraction and conducive to reflection and introspection.
Enclose your Zen space with a bamboo, stone, or wooden screen or wall for privacy. Sketch how you want the layout to be and what elements to include, or get a landscaper’s help.
Choose a flat, even site and rake the ground to remove any leaves, roots, or stones. Then, cover the area with landscape fabric to form a stable foundation and discourage weeds.
Dig holes to position your rocks and plants. You can use moss, pruned shrubs, or suitable plants for color or texture but nothing that’ll spread, advises Drought Smart Plants.
Arrange the rocks in vertical formations to represent mountains or trees, or arched to symbolize fire, then spread out the gravel and rake it into designs depicting moving water.
You can add wood in the form of benches or bridges and illuminate pathways or focal points with lanterns. You can also add stone statues and a seating area — but keep it simple.