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10 reasons why you need a Zen garden

Kamla Villanueva Kamla Villanueva
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We usually hear people talk about Zen gardens, but what is a Zen garden exactly and what does it mean? 

A Zen garden is a Japanese stone garden which consists mostly of gravel, stones and boulders. They frequently have smooth curved lines and a wonderful balance of simple elements. These gardens have served the Zen monks for centuries as part of their meditation. In Japanese, this special form of garden is called Kare-san-sui, which translates as roughly as a dry landscape or a fake landscape.

These dry gardens, known as Zen gardens, have enjoyed great popularity and the reasons are obvious: First, this type of garden is easy to maintain, especially when mainly gravel is used. Secondly, this design style is visually appealing in a way that it exudes a quiet oasis in your very own home. Lastly, this uncluttered setting for the garden provides tranquility, in which you can destress from your everyday life.

We've compiled ten of the most beautiful Zen gardens to give you ideas on how you can create your own Japanese dry garden.

1. Pure relaxation

One reason for applying a zen design is for its relaxing effect. With such stone gardens, its peaceful atmosphere will relieve you of stress and the hustle and bustle that we go through each day.

However, a genuine zen garden is completely devoid of plants—except for moss and water. Because the gravel or sand surfaces in the dry garden stand for streams, rivers or the sea. In order to work out this symbolism, the stone surfaces are provided with wavy lines. This is done with a special wooden rake. Drawing these lines into the sand provides a meditative effect and ensures serenity and relaxation. It is important that you do not recognize the beginning and the end of the lines as much as possible, they should pass gently into one another. The boulders represent the hills and mountains, which are emphasized by the line patterns. In general, having too much geometric shapes are discouraged, the effect should be natural, smooth and flowing. Odd numbers are also preferred, such as the quantity of rock boulders.

2. Zen garden can be applied everywhere

Another good reason for having a Japanese-inspired garden at home is that it can be applied almost everywhere. Here, the zen garden was laid out on the roof terrace overlooking the river. If you want, you can even choose a miniature form inside the house. You can even design your entire garden in this way, or just a corner or the perimeter of the exterior. On the balcony, having these Japanese style garden provide a wonderful design statement.

Here the typical wave patterns were not used, but the basic shape of the gravel surface itself looks like a single large wave—an exciting variation of the classic dry garden.

3. Beautify the outside area

Another point that exemplifies the advantage of having a Zen garden is its versatility and its ability to transform even the most gloomy garden into a robust oasis. In this photo, for example, it is embellished with rock fragments, moss and a fence made of bamboo, harnessing the natural elements to create an inspiring and relaxing garden in Japanese style.

The good thing about dry gardens is that they do not need any particular weather conditions to grow and thrive. On the contrary, since this garden is predominantly made of stone and gravel, any corner that is still so inhospitable can easily be enhanced.

4. Mini Zen garden

For those who do not have their own garden, miniature Zen gardens are the ideal choice. These are easy to create and at the same time, it will provide you with a playful way for relaxation and a meditative atmosphere. For this purpose a rectangular frame is usually used, which can be filled with sand, pebbles or semi-precious stones. With a small wooden rake you can always draw new patterns on the surface. If you want, you can also place a bonsai in this small garden.

Here a kind of miniature water lily pond was built between pebbles.

5. Meditation outdoors

Since 1996 Japanese gardening has been celebrated. In 1998 a Zen monastery was integrated into the extensive garden landscape. A natural pond; a tea house; a complete idyllic overall setting. The Zen garden is used as part of the training for the Zen Monks. Its calm and serene ambience help clear the mind of worries and focus on the present, making you appreciate each day that comes.

6. Dream garden with a Japanese flair

This private garden has the influence of Japanese style. Here, the plants and the pond are rectangular and modern, which does not correspond to the classical zen design. However, creating a fusion of designs were used to create this haven. By introducing your own style and creating a harmonious balance that will exude a zen vibe. With a relaxing seating area, this garden will help improve a person's state of mind as they relish its natural beauty, like a short holiday for the soul.

7. Japanese gardens interpreted in the west

The design of this house is modern and geometric. The green area in front of the house is also extremely puristic, giving it the appearance of a Japanese garden. A single, dramatically shaped tree as the focal point on the perfectly manicured lawn. This view is a fine example of reinterpretation of the traditional Japanese garden.

8. Bonsai

Bonsai, a small, well-formed and aesthetically shaped saplings are very popular. They do not fit into a traditional dry garden, but perfect in a Japanese inspired garden. So if you only want to have a garden with a Japanese flair without too strictly adhering to the rules of creating a Zen garden, the feel free to plant these beautiful decorative mini-trees.

However, you should first check in detail, which saplings are suitable for which place. Because bonsai require an in-depth care and special lighting and weather conditions to grow and flourish properly.

9.1 Design draft of a Japanese garden

Here you can see how a Japanese garden is designed prior to its execution. For this secure, private space for the home, this garden has a natural hedge wall surrounding the perimeter to ward off neighbors from looking into the property. In the next picture you'll be able to marvel at the finished garden.

9.2 Finished Japanese design

The garden was designed with granite and yew. The granite blocks also serve as outdoor seating. You can add in pillows and a fire pit to provide the garden with light and pleasant warmth. There is also a bed of herbs found in one corner behind the the granite blocks. Overall, this outdoor area radiates a relaxing Japanese flair.

10. Enjoy nature

Now, the principal reason why you should go for a Zen garden or a Japanese garden is to experience nature. It does not matter whether you adhere to the strict requirements of the traditional Zen garden by integrating plants and water into the design. The main thing is that you can feel good in your garden and be in harmony with yourself and nature.

Do you find zen gardens appealing?
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