5 Ways to Create a Zen Garden

October 14, 2021

Zen gardens are based on the beliefs of Zen Buddhism in that they were created to invoke peace, tranquility, and serenity in those who walk in them.

Rocks, sand, and gravel are used in these dry landscapes as a nod to the world's natural landscape. Each element denotes a specific characteristic of the world around us. Here is how a zen garden is created.


The main structures in a zen garden are rocks, otherwise known as Ishi. Boulders and large stones are often used as a physical representation of Buddha or the earth's mountainous landscape. Rocks give power and strength to a garden and are often positioned around water to create paths.

To make your own zen garden, start by positioning rocks in attractive formations around the area. Many zen gardens have large stones at their entrance as a welcome sign. You could soften up your garden by using rocks as seats. Place some cushions in bright covers on some of the flatter stones and keep them looking immaculate with some clever outdoor cushion cleaning and storage solutions.


Mizu is the term for the element of water. It is believed that water possesses the powers of purification and cleansing. The still water provides a surface for both the physical and mental reflection for those peering into it.

Bring water into your garden by installing a pond filled with koi carp or a beautiful water feature. Water features are a wonderful option as the sound of flowing water is very relaxing, and some of the structures are so attractive to look at.

If you lack a power source for a water feature or have young children and don't want to install a pond in case of accidents occurring, you can lay paths of fine gravel. Small stones raked into linear patterns are often used in zen gardens to represent the element of water.


Whether it's a wooden bridge across a pond or a miniature resin model of a one, bridges are a common characteristic of zen gardens. In Japanese they are known as hashi and signify a person's journey between the planes of existence.


Plants used in zen gardens are known as shokobutsu. Most Japanese gardens are known for their beautiful cherry trees with delicate pink blossoms that flower in the springtime. Pine and plum trees are other species that you should plant when creating a zen garden.

Bamboo frequently features in Japanese gardens. Wind chimes made from bamboo not only look lovely hanging from trees, but they also emit a soothing sound when blown about in the breeze.

Some species of plants to look for when creating the shokobutsu aspect of your garden include sawara cypress, cobra lily, Japanese maple, Chinese elm, painted lady fern, and Buddha belly bamboo.

Look for ideas online for zen garden layouts as the patterns and ways in which vegetation is planted are crucial to getting an authentic look.


Once you have laid the foundations of rocks, water bodies, plants, and paths in your garden, you can have some real fun and add some ornamentation, otherwise known as tenkeibutsu.

Traditional zen gardens don't have many ornaments, and the ones they do have serve a clear purpose. If you like the idea of decorating your backyard oasis with zen structures, look for statues of Buddha, lanterns, basins, and gates.

Enjoy creating your zen garden. Don't be restrained by rules and reply on your own taste and intuition for ideas.


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