What is a Zen Garden?

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If you are looking for an attractive alternative to the traditional balcony garden, a zen garden may be a perfect choice. “What is a Zen Garden?” Zen gardens are Japanese rock gardens and/or dry sand-based landscape gardens that have come to be a beautiful and peaceful art form in many contemporary homes.

Zen Garden Features

A zen garden is a representation of the natural world. Instead of using ponds or streams as in the wild, a zen garden uses rock formations, white sand, moss and pruned trees. It can also be simply a beautiful stone arrangement in light sand, with no growing plants or water at all. The rocks generally represent mountains and other natural objects such as islands. The sand or gravel represents water, and it can be raked or unraked depending on the effect and object of the garden.

Why Rake the Sand?

Raking the sand into specific waves or ripple patters is difficult. It was used by Zen Buddhist devotees to focus the mind and aid in concentration. As the free form nature of sand resists formed perfection, raking even lines is a challenging endeavor. Although the raking patterns are somewhat limited by the stones placed in the zen garden, there is still a dramatic array of variation possible for these raked patterns to take.

How Do You Look at a Zen Garden?

Zen gardens are not designed to be seen from every angle. Great care is taken to orient the stones and sand patterns so that they are best viewed from one specific side of the garden. The stones are placed to show a certain amount of balance. If a stone is leaning heavily to one side, there will be a rock nearby to ‘support’ it. There will always be more flat, horizontal rocks than tall, vertical rocks.

How Big Is a Zen Garden?

Zen gardens can range in size from huge expanses of outdoor space to miniature, indoor versions that fit easily on the top of a desk. Commonly, a small area of a patio or backyard can be turned into a pleasing and calm spot with a zen garden.

What Is a Zen Garden Used for?

Zen gardens can be used for a variety of purposes. While traditionally used as a focusing point for Buddhist thought and meditation, they can also be used as a focal point for quiet contemplation. Many writers and artists use the methodical raking as a way of spurring creative thought. Zen gardens can be added to any space as a simply striking art form, without any meditation expected from it; the clean lines and sharp contrasts that the stones and sand provide is alluring to most eyes.

How Do You Make a Zen Garden?

Making a zen garden can be as easy as buying a desktop kit, or as simple as buying white sand and smooth stones. By adding moss and pruned trees such as the bonsai, one can increase both the beauty and complexity of the garden.

Zen gardens are a refuge of peace and beauty in a challenging and fast-paced world. They add a layer of happiness to many homes, businesses, and outdoor landscapes.


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