One of the most appealing things you can do to your backyard is definitely implementing some type of a secluded Zen garden. Zen gardens are great for visual improvement of your backyard, but they are also amazing at reducing stress and anxiety. Formed around few simple principles, building your own Zen garden in your own backyard can prove to be quite useful and fun experience if you just follow the right steps.
Let’s start from the beginning and go through what Zen really means. The official definition states that Zen (noun) represents an old Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism which mainly focuses on core values of meditation and intuition. The urban definition of the word differs a bit. It states that Zen is a way of being – a state of total focus and unison between the mind and the body which helps to see things as they are without any illusions.
So, knowing that Zen gardens originate from a spiritual place, and knowing the basics of its philosophy, using Zen gardens as a mean for relaxation and meditation is something that can both help you with the way you feel about the world and it will make your backyard look amazing. So, let’s go through the basics of creating your own piece of Zen garden oasis.
The principles of a Zen garden
Developing and maintaining a Zen garden is done by following the seven basic guiding principles. They are as follows: Shinzen – Naturalness, Kanso – Simplicity, Koko – Austerity, Fukinsei – Asymmetry, Yugen – Mystery, Datsuzoku – Magical, and Seijaku – Stillness.
These Eastern principles evolved during the years, and caring about a Zen garden has become somewhat similar to growing a bonsai – representing the nature and its most perfect balance in stylized, miniature manner. The main philosophy of Zen gardens is tranquility, so whether you decide to make it small, or a large one with lots of sand, rocks, and moss, it should be helping you meditate and achieve a Zen state of mind. As it doesn’t have to be any specific size, you can make it throughout the entire backyard, or simply create a small, tabletop Zen garden. Think about its efficiency and aesthetics and think about what you would like to see in your backyard.
Implement water features
In order to achieve maximum tranquility and the best possible feel of your Zen garden, think about using some kind of water surface as an element of your garden. Zen gardens go extremely well with small bodies of water, ponds or even creeks, as their natural calm feel comes from the balance between all of the elements. Knowing how minimalistic Eastern philosophy can get, a simple pond or a small, artificial creek in the corner of your backyard can well enough do the job for you. With just a small water surface, well-placed rocks and sand, and some moss, you can really go quite a long way. Water features in your Zen garden are always recommended as they connect different elements of the garden in the best possible way – through natural connections.
Use rocks, stones, and pebbles
As the raked sand represents the dried out rivers, the rocks in your Zen garden should represent mountains. The general feel of the garden should be peaceful and in unison with the nature surrounding it, that’s why using different colored pebbles, stones and rocks can really give character to your little Zen oasis. You can use natural rocks, or you can use colored ones, as long as you don’t overdo it and it looks calming. Avoid making your Zen garden seem cluttered and cramped, but instead aim for a minimalistic approach where the raked sand, moss, water surfaces and stones you’ve selected form a perfectly balanced anti-stress haven.
Add plants and greenery
A garden is not a garden without the plants, and it’s the same thing with Zen gardens. All the features, stones, water surfaces and other parts of the garden only go together well if there are some plants and greenery to connect them. Consider all the ways you can implement different irrigation methods to your garden and think about plant species that would fit in the best possible way. Look for affordable but professional gardening equipment like Hoselink, as it will help you immensely with maintaining your Zen garden. Add a lot of moss, as it goes great with stones and sand, and think about using succulents and similar plants which are great in balancing the overall feel of the garden. Similarly to the rocks and stones – try not to overdo it, as cramped and overgrown Zen gardens usually tend to trigger a completely opposite reaction from the desired one.
Creating your own Zen garden can be a very fun thing to do, and it can also help you with your mental health. Various studies have shown the usefulness of maintaining a Zen garden, whether it’s a big one, across the entire backyard, or if it’s a simple, desktop version of one. It helps us relieve stress, maintain focus and memory, and it can really help you understand the Eastern philosophy. The most important thing is to have fun while you’re planning, making and maintaining your Zen garden. Keep it fun but peaceful, and you will be surprised how much change a simple thing like a Zen garden can bring to your life.