We’ve all heard or seen your typical Zen garden – a Japanese creation consisting mainly of gravel, stones and boulders. These, in their various styles that include curved shapes, have been around for centuries, originally created by Zen monks as part of their meditation rituals. In Japanese these creations are known as karesansui, translating into “dry landscape”).
Of course Zen gardens also enjoy immense popularity outside of Japan for obvious reasons: this type of garden is quite easy to maintain, especially when mainly gravel is used. Another reason is because of the visually appealing forms and shapes these gardens create, forming a beautiful and quiet touch to one’s home; a touch of serenity to the everyday hectic life.
That’s why we’re about to show you 10 of the most beautiful Zen gardens here on homify to inspire you for your own…
One fantastic benefit of Zen gardens is the fact that they can be designed just about anywhere. Have a look at this beautiful creation on a roof terrace overlooking the river, although you can also choose a much smaller creation for inside your home.
Here, the typical wave patterns in the gravel were not used, yet the basic shape of the ground surface itself resembles a wave – a different, exciting option when it comes to the classic Zen garden.
Another reason for opting for a Zen garden is its relaxing look and qualities.
A variety of Zen gardens exist, some making use of only rocks and gravel, other bringing in additional touches like moss, plants and water features. But the key element to include is elegant designs in the gravel or sand surfaces via a garden rake to simulate a river or ocean. Drawing the lines into the sand has a meditative effect and ensures serenity and relaxation. It is important that you do not focus on including a beginning and ending for those lines – they need to flow elegantly into one another, a never-ending design.
The bigger rocks in the garden – which represent hills and mountains – need to be emphasised by the surrounding patterns and lines. Don’t focus on creating forms and shapes that are too geometric in appearance; they need to be as natural as possible.
And stick to odd numbers for the rocks and boulders.
Another plus point of the Zen garden is its versatility and its ability to transform even the gloomiest garden into a well-being oasis. In this photo, for example, there is no evidence of a boring or neglected yard space, which is what this area, a garden in Berlin, once was. Rock fragments, shrubs and a delightful bamboo fence have all styled up this space into a classic Japanese garden.
Another great thing about these gardens is of course the fact that they don’t require any sort of weather conditions to thrive, meaning they can be designed in just about any area or corner.
For those that don’t have their own outside spaces, a miniature Zen garden is the solution. These are so easy to lay out and provide a calming, playful way of both gardening and meditating. 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 draw new patterns on the surface as you desire. If you want, you can also place a bonsai in this small garden.
In this example, a miniature pond with water lilies was created in the centre of the gravel garden.
The location of this Japanese garden is Castle Eickhof in Liebenau, Lower Saxony. Since 1996, this beautiful Japanese garden has flourished here and in 1998 was joined up by a Zen monastery in the sprawling garden complex. A natural pond and tea house complete the idyllic picture.
At this private garden in Bremerhaven, a Japanese garden created the finishing touches. Here, plants and water have been combined and styled up to simulate a classic Zen space, which teaches us another important fact about Zen gardens: the natural touches included need to exist in harmony with one another in order to produce a relaxing ambience.
Here, a modern and geometric-shaped house presents a clean layout, joined up by a minimalist-style garden that is beautifully Japanese in appearance. A single, dramatically shaped tree becomes the focal point of the lawn. This is a fine example of how a Zen garden can be reinterpreted in the western world.
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Bonsai trees are quite popular, and even though they don’t usually fit into a regular garden, they look simply fantastic when combined with a Japanese-style space. Thus, should you want a garden space with some Japanese flair without the additional elements of rocks and raked gravel, consider a bonsai tree to provide the perfect finishing touch.
Just be sure to check which bonsai trees are suitable for your area, as these miniature trees require in-depth maintenance and ideal weather conditions to flourish.
Here you can see the design of a Japanese garden, which is a protected, private space for a family. This garden space, which also functions as an outdoor living room, will provide a fresh ambience and plenty of outdoor space that can be used right throughout the year. Our next photo shows the finished result.
Granite boulders and stepping stones complete the picture beautifully, providing seating spots and garden pathways to bring in more character and functionality. An herb garden right in the centre ensures a stunning finishing touch.
The most important reason to opt for a Zen garden should be to get closer to nature. It doesn’t matter how close you try and copy the traditional Japanese garden of ancient times, as long as the finalised result is one of peaceful tranquillity and a clean design. After all, the main thing about your garden is that you should enjoy spending time in it, and with nature itself.
Speaking of fresh inspiration, have a look at Garden design: 12 brilliant modern ideas to copy.