In sharp contrast to the traditional gardens we are used to with brilliant blooms, emerald green grass, the intoxicating fragrance of the elements of nature, and tall trees swaying gracefully in the breeze, a Zen garden has none of these features. Comprised primarily of stone, sand, and/or gravel, Japanese Zen gardens, also known as "kare sansui", are devoid of greenery and lack beauty as we typically know it. And yet, they are strangely peaceful, inducing a blissful state of tranquility within you. Zen gardens look beautiful whether they are spread over a sweeping landscape or contained in a tiny box to be kept on your table. Here are 7 steps to create your very own Zen garden.
1. Making the Mold
Once you’ve decided how large you want your Zen garden, the first thing to do is make the mold that will hold the sand or gravel. For large gardens, use pieces of lumber in 2" x 4" size or any other type of wood you fancy. For a desktop garden, you’ll need no more than a small container made of wood. Once you’ve put the form together, give it finishing touches by painting, varnishing or staining it.
2. Consider a Weed Retainer
For outdoor Zen gardens, weed retainers are essential since it keeps weeds out and retains the clean appeal of the garden. Although quite important, this is also one of the most overlooked and ignored steps to create a Zen garden. Therefore, lay down a weed retainer even before you set down the form of the garden.
3. Fill in the Form
The next step is pretty simple. Fill the form with plenty of sand or gravel and level it out evenly. For desktop Zen gardens, get the sand from the local aquarium or pet shop in small bags. For the outdoor gardens designed on a larger scale, source the gravel or sand from a landscaping supply company, quarry or the rock shop in your neighborhood.
4. Add the Ripples
One of the most fun steps to create a Zen garden is raking the gravel or sand to create long, sinuous strokes, curving to look like the ripples you generally see in lakes or rivers. You can stick to the more basic design of simple ripples or you could experiment with bolder patterns. The best part is, you can change these patterns as often as you like.
5. Decide the Features of Your Garden
There are plenty of “accessories” you can use to make your Zen garden more visually stimulating, apart from the commonly used rocks, boulders, or polished pebbles, such as wood, statues, or stones with interesting texture. There are really no do’s and don’ts in this respect and you can even add a dash of color to your garden.
6. Avoid Cluttering
Although there are no set rules and regulations as to the accessories you can have in your garden, one of the most important stipulations is that you keep it uncluttered. The entire purpose of a Zen garden would be defeated if you piled in too many elements. Also, when placing the pebbles and stones in there, make sure you place them off-center, submerging them partially for more effect.
7. Use Lighting
The last step to create a Zen garden would be to add some fabulous lighting. Lighting effects add a whole new dimension to a Zen garden and there’s something extra special about watching shadows dance on it. So feel free to have your favorite lighting, such a solar light, in the Zen garden to give it a stunning night-time glow.
There, doesn’t that look absolutely gorgeous? And so easy to put together, too! Watching a Zen garden taking shape in front of your eyes is about as therapeutic as looking at it and admiring its beauty The steps to create a Zen garden aren’t exactly back-breaking and you are free to experiment with the elements and design as long as you stick to the basic principles – simplicity and minimalism. So, when do you plan to get started?
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