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Zen Gardens

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Tired from a long day of work, you drag yourself into the garden.Imagine a relaxing design with spongy moss under your feet, or perhaps a garden waterfall that soothes and rejuvenates your body, mind, and spirit – a place where you can finally relax.

Great, isn't it? You can have a Zen garden to get rid of your troubles, and you can enjoy being at peace with nature in your own garden. Here are some great suggestions for creating a zen garden! For many people, the garden is a refuge from the outside world where they can rest after a hard day's work. This concept can be extended to create a dedicated space for quiet contemplation. Zen gardens were originally developed by Japanese Buddhist monks as places of meditation. Aspects of Zen design can be incorporated into all spaces and landscapes.


A traditional Zen garden, known as Karesansui, is a minimalist dry landscape composed of natural elements of rock, gravel, sand, and wood with little to no plants and no water.

Man-made components include a surrounding wall or fence to separate the space from the outside world, and bridges, statues, and stone lanterns. Because the focus is hardscape, there is little seasonal variation and the garden has year-round appeal.

a relaxing green zen garden with a large pond and bridge
Image Credit: Unknown


Choose the right area

What part of the courtyard might be suitable for a meditation space? How big will it be? Choose a flat, straight corner or narrow side garden suitable for creating a comfortable space to meditate on. Take preliminary measurements to help visualize the finished room.

a claming livingroom with green moss wall
Image Credit: Therapinterior Zen Experience Hotel

Browse various resources such as the internet, books, and visit Zen spaces and local gardens to get an idea of ​​how you want your space to look. Make an idea board or wish list of features you want to include.

Use guiding principles

Zen gardens are structured around seven main principles: Saving (Koko), Simplicity (Kanso), Naturalness (Shinzen), Asymmetry (Fukinsei), Mystery or Subtlety (Yugen), Magical or Unusual (Datsuzoku), and Silence (Seijaku). Your Zen garden should introduce most or all of these concepts.

Draw a design

Create a rough sketch to visualize your finished space. You can work with therapinterior for a more detailed and professional project.

Be flexible

Although authentic Zen gardens have few plants and no water features, there are many variations in Zen design where water and plants can play a more important role. Don't be afraid to try different looks.

An inviting space

Choose the aspects of Zen gardening that delight you the most and arrange the garden to your liking. Create a space where you look forward to spending time.

Consider scale

Use materials that are scaled to the size of the garden room as well as the rest of your garden. Larger stones can easily overwhelm a small area, while small rocks can get lost in a wider landscape.

Keep it simple

A Zen space should be simple and uncluttered with a sense of calm. Use a muted color scheme to relax the mind and create a soothing environment.


Individual elements carry deep symbolic meaning. Sand or gravel combed into patterns represents water, while larger rocks show islands, mountains, animals, or natural elements such as fire and earth. The emphasis on abstract concepts aims to stimulate the imagination and allow the mind to wander, an important part of the meditation process. A Zen garden should have quiet, privacy, and aesthetic beauty. Include at least some of these primary features that characterize a traditional Zen garden.


They are one of the most important components of Japanese design as they represent man's desire for eternity and permanent elements in nature. Selecting and placing larger rocks is crucial to a harmonious Zen design. Larger rocks that act as sculptural elements should be placed first as they are the heaviest materials and are the primary focus.


Gravel is an integral part of Zen gardens, with jagged patterns that have symbolic meaning. Early and late in the day, the low angle of the sun accentuates the texture and patterns of the pebbles, creating a visually engaging, ever-changing scene. The act of raking gravel is part of the meditation process and is an acquired skill that helps develop mental concentration.

Although sand can be used, gravel is more durable and easier to maintain. Use finely ground gravel, pea gravel or small flat pebbles that will be easy to pattern. Usually light neutral colors of white, cream or gray are used.

Patterns drawn on pebbles are used to indicate a season or evoke a

certain mood.

The lines around the larger rocks simulate water waves, while the wavy lines resemble a meandering stream.A straight-line design can evoke serenity by directing the eye to the landscape or simulating a frozen winter landscape. Use a fine-toothed metal rake to smooth the gravel, then use a specially designed, wide-toothed rake to draw the pattern.


To create a secluded garden room, surround the space with a wall, fences, bamboo screens, lattice panels, or formal fences.


A statue can be an inspiration for meditation and an important focal point. These are typically Buddha figurines or Japanese lanterns. Place it in a prominent place in the garden.


A path can take visitors into the garden or run through the gravel area to make maintenance more accessible. Choose materials that will contrast with larger rocks and gravel, such as dark stepping stones. Consider the layout of the path in terms of how it will affect your gardening experience. Does it direct the eye to space or draw attention to certain features? A straight road looks more formal, while a winding road creates stopping points in the way of distraction and observation.


Zen gardens are intended to be seen from a particular point of view. Place a stone bench or comfortable chair where you can enjoy the garden the most.


While water is not part of a traditional Zen garden, the sound of moving water can create a more relaxing environment conducive to meditation. A trickling Asian-style fountain or waterfall will help drown out the noise of the city.

Image credit: Unknown


An often overlooked aspect of the home landscape, lighting adds aesthetic appeal and allows time spent outside in the evening. Illuminate paths, statues or uplight trees.


While Zen gardens typically use few plants, you can adapt this aspect to suit your own taste and style. The type of plant used in Zen gardens tends to be low and creeping to complement rather than overwhelm the hardscape. Flowers are sparse or absent, while leaves should be in neutral shades of green to evoke peace and harmony. The best plants for a Zen garden include bonsai, pruning trees, dwarf conifers, Japanese maples, azaleas, bamboo, reeds, creeping ground covers, ferns, and mosses. The amount of light your space receives will determine whether sun or shade lovers will work best.

Are you ready to make a minimalist design for your home?

Do you need a holistic design consultancy?

Click on the link to apply to Therapinterior. Our team will get back to you shortly as possible.

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