What exactly is a Zen Garden? The term “Zen Garden” is typically used to describe a specific type of Japanese garden comprised mainly of sand and rocks and focuses on design simplicity. The style comes from the Zen Buddhist Temples where many of these gardens can be found. These gardens can be small framed boxes or may take up half of your yard. You can create them in any size or form that you wish. The idea is that the sand or gravel that forms the base of the garden represents the water of a pond or ocean. The surface of the sand is often raked to represent the ripples of water.
The Zen garden is a pit of sand or gravel. Then stones are placed carefully in the sand to represent islands or rock formations generally found in water. This is a common design and interpretation of proper rock gardens but you can design it in any manner you like.
These gardens can be built in flowerbed type enclosures, directly on the ground, or in framed wooden boxes similar to flat flower boxes. You can research and look at some inspiring pictures to get a good idea for your Zen garden. Decide which type would make a good addition to your garden or patio area.
First, plan the area where you will create your Zen Garden. If it requires a framed box, you will need to create or purchase the box first. If you intend to create the rock garden on the ground, decide if you will need to excavate in order to remove soil or ground cover foliage. Map out the perimeter of the garden and create a border. Your local home and garden supply stores have several border materials that will do this job quite nicely. If building on the ground, you may need to line the ground with weed blocking material to keep plants from growing up through your sand or gravel area.
Add the sand or gravel bed. Whether you are adding sand or gravel, you will want to fill the area and completely cover the ground or bottom of the box. You need the sand or gravel to be deep enough to allow for raking the surface to create the ripple effect.
Now you are ready to place the focal features of your choice into the sand or gravel bed. For best results, these items should be partially submerged in the sand to create the appearance that they are protruding from the surface of water. Natural objects like large and small stones will keep you close to the traditional roots of this design but feel free to use anything that you like. Any natural items like rocks, plants, logs work best to achieve that natural look. Also, remember that simplicity is a major part of this theme.
Now you are ready to rake the surface to create ripples and designs. Feel free to be artistic. It is your garden after all and you can move objects around and resurface it as often as you like.