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Zen Garden: Creating Your Own Backyard Oasis

Backyard Oasis, Planting Shrubs, Themed Gardens, Water Plants, Zen Garden

Prelude from the author: “A karesansui or Japanese rock garden, or Zen garden is an enclosed shallow sandbox containing sand, gravel, rocks, and occasionally grass or other natural elements. The main elements of karesansui are rocks and sand, with the sea symbolized not by water but by sand raked in patterns that suggest rippling water. Plants are much less important (and sometimes nonexistent) in many karesansui gardens. – Reference: Wikipedia. Although a Zen Garden in its true form does not use real water and a lot of vegetation, this article shows a different and an alternative twist to creating a Zen garden in your own backyard …by adding water and some vegetation that can add to the peacefullness feeling a true Zen Garden symbolizes.”

If you have a very hectic schedule, and stress is a part of your day to day existence, creating a Zen garden maybe something you would want to consider in your backyard. Having a Zen garden in your backyard, can give you a place to relax and a place to escape from the daily rigors of life. A Zen garden can help your mind and body to be in harmony with its natural surroundings. It can help you find your inner peace- a quiet solitude. It can also provide you a place to meditate and re-energize after a long hard day.

Creating a Zen garden is not difficult to do. As long as you have the basic materials you can create an atmosphere that you would love to come home to. One would think of Japanese and Chinese themed gardens when they think of Zen gardens. We feel the tranquility as we visit these gardens; everything is in harmony, from the plants used, the rocks, and the sight and sound of water.

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Here is a list of fundamental elements to consider when designing your own Zen garden:

1) Plants: The tranquility of Zen gardens is often attributed to the dominance of the color green, with seasonal colors accenting the beauty of a slowly changing space. Choose your plant materials correctly. You can use an evergreen, bonsai plants, and potted succulents. Accent it with flowering plant sparingly. Do not overcrowd plants, a Zen garden makes use of correct spacing between plants to allow them to breathe and grow. A Zen garden utilizes the principle of clean lines, where form follows beauty and the flow of design in harmony with each other. Planting shrubs along the meandering path made of gravel and sand can create and frame views as one walks through the garden. The use of open space is very important in Zen gardens, and the open spaces are planned and considered as an integral part of the garden design.

2) Water: Another important element to create your own Zen garden is to use water in your design. If you have a big backyard, you can add a pond with fish and water plants. Some create man-made waterfalls, and incorporate them in their overall design by surrounding them with plants and boulders. If you do not have the space, adding a fountain can give you the sight and sound of water which can help you relax by drowning down the noise.

3) Statuary: Adding statues in your Zen garden with an Asian theme, for example Chinese lions and Buddha, for they can add dimension and interest to your space. Display them in groups or individually next to plants. You can make them your focal point if you have an open space, by placing one tall statue in the center can draw ones eyes to go closer and explore.

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4) Pots: Use of potted plants is a good way to add some variety to your Zen design. Clustering some pots together in one corner planted with succulents can give variation to the space. They can also hide unsightly necessities in your garden, like a garden hose, etc. Putting a small tree in a big pot can be a nice focal point in your garden.

5) Rocks, Gravel, and Sand: Use gravel instead of the usual wood chips to cover the ground. Adding river rocks and even big boulders can add architectural dimension to your garden. A big boulder next to a small Japanese maple tree can be very attractive. Sands can be used for your pathways to walk on.

6) Place to Sit: Having a place to sit in your garden is must for a Zen garden. This will be a place where you can read a book, or just close your eyes and meditate. A wooden bench close to a stroll path can give you a place to relax after a long walk. It would be nice to also put a seat close to your water feature so you can enjoy the sound more closely. A good idea for relaxation is a place to drink your tea. A small table flanked by a couple of chairs would suffice in this case.

7) Sound: Other than the sound of water, you can also add wind chimes. This can add restful sound and help drown out neighborhood noise.

8) Lights: You need to add lights to be able to enjoy your garden at night. Placing a Japanese lantern with candles close to the water garden is a beautiful way to add glow that can reflect on the water. Add solar lights in different corners to brighten and help accentuate the statuary, potted plants, and the pathways.

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Adding these elements together can help you with your Zen garden design. Once you have finished with your garden, you can start enjoying and relaxing in your own backyard oasis.