After a long week at work, some people sink into their sofa to watch some TV and relax. Others work out their stress by hitting the gym. Another way to unwind and put yourself into a calmer state of mind is to step into your garden. Japanese Zen gardens are designed to be a refuge, a place where you can go to meditate or simply feel more at peace. They’re not like many of the gardens you see in Maryland today. Rather than flowers, shrubs and grass, Zen gardens are filled with very small pebbles or sand. Actual plants are optional and are there to simply enhance the tranquil environment you’ve created.
Now, you’re probably thinking: How could this dry landscape possibly be soothing? An important distinction between Japanese Zen gardens and a pile of rocks is that Zen gardens feature rake designs, often ones that mimic the look of rippling waves. Not only do these designs help you create a more calming backyard, but the act of raking itself can be therapeutic and a way to alleviate anxiety or stress.
To create a Zen garden, first decide how large of an area you want the rocks or sand to cover. You’ll then use wood to build a mold that will contain the gravel (usually you can do this using two-by-fours). Once you set up the mold outdoors, fill the container with your rocks and use a Japanese-style rake to create a ripple pattern. Lastly, add any accessories you like, but be careful not to crowd your space. Many people add larger pebbles, statues and a few green plants to enhance the Zen look.
If you love your lush garden too much to cover it with gravel, don’t worry. You can keep your colorful landscape and create a desktop Zen garden instead. This is a good idea especially if you want to design a more calming office space. Learn more about Zen gardens and other styles to consider for your backyard at your local Homestead Gardens today!