A Zen garden, otherwise known as a Japanese rock garden, is believed to be a stylized representation of the natural world. It usually contains an organized collection of rocks, bodies of water, and plants, and sits on gravel or sand (hence its other nickname: a dry garden). Gravel or sand tends to be raked to create wave-like patterns, more reminiscent of the feel of water and natural beauty.
Perhaps the best thing about a Zen garden is how easy it is not only to do, but to redo every now and then. So if your first effort to create serenity doesn’t exactly follow your plans, fear not, you may find that the simple process of creating a Zen garden is all the calm you need. âThe best part of a Zen garden is really the learning process,â says Kalei Buczek, general manager of the Rewild DC plant and flower studio. âJust take 10 to 15 minutes a day to organize, care for or check your garden; I found it to be a truly calming experience, especially during the pandemic. “
Here are 5 easy zen garden ideas to get you started
1. Choose a container that matches your personality
Your creativity is the only limit when it comes to choosing the base for your garden. âYou can really use any type of pot that speaks to you,â Buczek says. A shallower dish will make it easier for you to rake and play with the contents, but if you prefer a deeper pot, you do.
2. Consider swapping rocks for sand
Traditionally, Zen gardens have involved white gravel because it is easier to work with than sand over a large area; However, sand can produce the most distinct patterns for your miniature dry landscape if you plan to use a rake (or pen) to create scribbles and patterns.
3. Go for cool tones when adding items
Since they are meant to be a calming environment, architects tend to select cool or neutral color palettes to ensure maximum mental relaxation when designing rock gardens. This means sticking to hues like blues and purples or more earthy tones. You can add these light pops of color with trinkets like sea glass, miniature pottery, or anything else that might soothe the spirit.
4. Select plants that speak to you
âIt’s really more about what brings you joy and calm, because each plant is unique and grows differently,â Buczek explains. There are, however, some aesthetic guidelines Buczek recommends that you follow to create a more artistic Zen garden. âIn garden theory, if you’re looking for balance, you want to find thriller, infill and overthrow,â she explains. “That means putting a taller plant in the back of your garden, a medium-sized bushy plant in the middle, and then something that will hang out near the foreground.” Buczek also recommends working in groups of three, which she says can easily be adapted to a very small space, as well as a large field.
5. Don’t forget the rake
Perhaps the most satisfying element of a Zen garden of any size is the rake you use to create patterns in the gravel or sand. Whether you need to meditate while drawing straight lines or prefer to create the traditional wavy curves to remind you of waves, using a small rake to unleash your creativity can do wonders for your stress.
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