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Finding Tranquility in Your Own Zen Garden
Finding Tranquility in Your Own Zen Garden

In today's crazy world, many folks are looking for ways to transform their homes into safe oases of relaxation and comfort. A zen garden could be a fun place to start. The concept of orderly rock gardens was created in medieval Japan as an expression of nature and tranquility. Whether a tiny apartment balcony or a home with plenty of outdoor space, inserting some pops of natural beauty can be transformative. The look is intended to be simple and orderly, an ideal spot for mindful reflection.

01

Roots of the Zen Garden

zen garden rocks KingWu / Getty Images

Zen gardens evolved over time in Japan but became increasingly popular between the 14th and 16th centuries. Initially, these rock gardens were created and maintained by Buddhist monks. The ground was stripped of its natural growth and replaced by rocks and gravel in patterns that replicated nature and water. Gradually evolving over time, rock gardens now often include plants, water features, and statues.

02

Appearance

zen garden trees Praiwan Wasanruk / Getty Images

While the traditional zen garden is comprised mainly of hardscaping or rocks, gravel and sand, modern landscapers have incorporated a range of features. All zen-like spaces tend to uphold the elements of simplicity and order in the placement of each item. Experimenting with plants and trees can add new elements; one might create shade where none exists, grow herbs to supplement a culinary need, or even add a small buddha statue.

03

Small-space friendly

zen garden portable Jtbrack / Getty Images

The best thing about a zen garden is that one can be created absolutely anywhere. For tiny home dwellers, consider a container-based garden that can be placed wherever you wish to inspire relaxation, in a yoga space, or on a bedside table. Whether the garden is six inches or six feet, the elements are the same. Start with a frame, container or plot of land. Add some sand and rocks or pebbles. Anytime you want to change up the layout, it's easy to do.

04

Environmental considerations

zen garden apartment stefanamer / Getty Images

A zen garden that focuses entirely on hardscape elements like rocks can be created in any climate, withstanding the hottest of desert climates or cold snowy winters with nothing more than some spring tidying. Gardens incorporating plant materials will need some additional consideration to ensure adequate sunlight, water, fertilizer, and maintenance. These factors apply to indoor gardens as well, so be mindful of available sunlight, and be sure to water regularly.

05

Zen garden tools

zen garden sand og-vision / Getty Images

Aside from the typical construction tools (think shovels and buckets) often needed to create a zen garden outdoors, the day to day maintenance is straightforward. To maintain the clean, crisp lines in the sand, a simple rake is essential. But for beginners, anything you have at home can be used, including a broom, a fork, or even your fingers. Should you wish to incorporate a small bonsai tree or a plant, a pair of gardening shears or scissors will help to maintain the shape and size you want.

06

Fun options

zen garden yoga Kavuto / Getty Images

The garden has been created, the vision perfected, but now what? There are many ways a zen garden can be used to inspire tranquility and peace. Whether the space is indoors or outside, make it your special spot for yoga, meditation, reading, or writing in your journal. Consider incorporating a candle, a rustic bench, some essential oils or aromatherapy, or a small fountain to drown out external noise.

07

Creating purpose

zen space og-vision / Getty Images

Creating, and performing ongoing maintenance of a zen garden should, in itself, be a welcome responsibility that is both soothing and calm. Setting aside time to be quiet and mindful in this work is a way to blot out the stresses of the everyday routine for a while. Keep your garden to a size that is manageable to ensure the maintenence remains soothing and not chore-like.

08

Creative outlet

zen garden oasis fotolinchen / Getty Images

Finding opportunities to express creativity is a healthy outlet for relieving stress. There are so many options to do this, and starting small with a personalized zen garden is one that can offer endless rewards. The garden can be tweaked and perfected over time, as your skills develop. Perhaps that tiny little tabletop zen garden will one day evolve into a garden oasis.

09

Spend what you can

rock garden HuyThoai / Getty Images

This is one of those hobbies that can be as inexpensive or as costly as you wish it to be. Obviously, if a pond with koi fish is part of the plan, then things could get pricey. But a simple garden with items that can be found locally is very cost-effective. A small starter kit can begin as low as $15. Over time, purchase additional items as needed.

10

Meditation and mindfulness

mindful zen meditation Anna_Om / Getty Images

The zen garden has been constructed, and the process of being productive felt good. Now what? If you're not a meditation or mindfulness guru, but want to learn how to really enjoy your gorgeous new rock garden, there are lots of options. Download a relaxation app or take a calming yoga class for inspiration (there are lots of free ones online). Read a book or blog that teaches you techniques to help unwind after a busy day so you can really make the most of your new space.

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