Zen Gardens – A Peaceful Alternative

17 Sep 2020

If you’re looking for something a little different in your garden this year, something calming and relaxing after the stresses of 2020. Why not look for something completely new, a Japanese Zen Garden.

What is a Zen Garden?

We have all heard of feng shui, we consider this to be the positioning and shape of things to promote relaxation and mental wellness. Zen gardens are along the same lines, and many encompass feng shui within them.
Zen gardens are often referred to as Japanese Rock Gardens as they usually include rock formations and large amounts of gravel. Typically, rocks are carefully positioned to make attractive structures, these are then surrounded by gravel, raked to resemble rippled water.
These gardens are usually small and surrounded by evergreens to keep them calming and secluded.

Benefits of a Zen Garden

Whilst many may opt for a zen garden simply because they look attractive, there are many other reasons they may choose to use their space in this manner.
Relaxing and calming – the simplicity of the zen garden and the lines that it offers are usually seen as a calm space. Usually a single simple seating area can act as the perfect place to sit and escape the stresses of the outside world.
Small spaces – as Zen gardens are usually smaller spaces, they are ideal if you have a very small garden or even a yard. Typical of larger cities, such as London, many people only have a small concrete yard, turning this small space into your zen garden makes good use of the space while offering an attractive and relaxing place to sit.
Simple and low maintenance – due to how little goes into a zen garden they are considered to be low maintenance. After the initial set up of the garden (providing you use a good weed resistant base under your gravel) there will be very little upkeep required. An occasional trim of the evergreens, a fresh rake of the gravel to introduce new ripples are you’re almost there.


Setting up your Zen Garden

As with any garden, you’ll want to plan the space out. As Zen gardens are smaller spaces it may be that you aren’t using the whole garden, so you’ll need to partition a space off. Usually for a zen space this is done with evergreens, if you don’t want taller ones taking over your whole garden there are a selection of smaller ones you can find. Remember to keep up regular pruning on these to ensure they stay smaller.
Clear the ground will be next on your list. This means ensuring that all that is currently growing will need to be removed to prepare for your anti weed base. When this is down, preferably before you introduce your gravel, you can add your rock formations. From larger rocks forming small arches, to mounds of rocks. There are a number of different Japanese meanings to rock formations, so if you are looking for something with meaning, you can always research this first.
Next is releasing your gravel. Opt for lighter coloured grey gravel to keep in with the overall design.
Along with the evergreen perimeter, many Zen gardens also incorporate small moss plants. Whether you include these within your gravelled area, or introduce them in other ways, they will add to the year round colour. As they aren’t usually fast growers, these require very little upkeep. If you are adding these within your gravel, take care when making a gap in the weed protection so as not to add too much room for weeds to break through.
Finally, add in your rake lines. Whether you add straight lines, or wavy ripples to represent water, this can be entirely up to personal preference, and how frequently this is done depends on how perfect you want to keep your lines.

Optional design feature

Something that is found in a number of Zen gardens is a dry water feature. While yes, this may sound like an odd concept, again it uses raked gravel to resemble water. Use the layout of the surrounding stones and build up the one end slightly to resemble water travelling downhill. This looks great travelling down the one side of your Zen garden (it also makes a great feature in any garden!). The benefit to a dry water feature is no costly liners and pumps.

If a Zen garden is something you are considering, or even if you are just looking for a complete redesign, here at Abingdon’s we are happy to discuss this with you. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

Abingdon's Complete Garden Service Ltd.,
50 Meadowside,
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
OX14 5DX
01235 533193