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Creating a Zen garden - step by step instructions

Creating a Zen garden - step by step instructions

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German rock gardens are often colorful and rustic - Japanese ones, however, are simple and clear. Our instructions show how you can create such a Zen garden yourself.

Place of rest and relaxation: the Zen garden

German gardens are usually always the same: a large lawn, flower beds, greenhouse and maybe a garden pond and the German oasis of calm is perfect. But these can be overlooked over the years. It is therefore not surprising that many garden lovers redesign their gardens every few years to provide a breath of fresh air and variety.

Regardless of whether it's a French garden, Mediterranean flair or just Japanese elements - whatever you like is allowed. However, if you are very keen on tranquility and harmony and often use your garden to meditate or to find inner peace, then a Zen garden is just right for you. Why? We'll explain that in more detail below.

Zen garden: highlight of Japanese garden art

A Japanese rock garden, i.e. a Zen garden, impresses with its neat organization and clear lines. This comes without colorful flowers, water or other visual highlights, because the garden has its origins in Buddhism and is used here as a place of meditation and rest. You may have heard of the famous Zen Gardens in Kyoto (see interesting documentation on Kyoto’s Zen Gardens), which function as symbols of tradition and places of tranquility.

The rule of Zen can even be traced back to China in the year zero. For example, these Zen rules state which four elements belong in a Japanese rock garden. These four elements include stones, trees, sand (water) and moss, each of which has its own meaning.

➤ stones:

They stand for animals that are involved in nature. But they are also dedicated to the gods descending from heaven.

➤ Trees:

These are meant to symbolize life, since they are constantly regenerating and growing.

➤ Sand (water):

It is actually the element of water that plays a central role in a Zen garden. For the sake of simplicity, however, you choose sand. A real Zen garden does not have a garden pond, but consists only of gravel, which symbolizes the water. Therefore, wavy patterns are raked in here with a rake.

➤ Moss:

The moss stands for wisdom and also serves as a moisturizer. Incidentally, moss is the only form of growth that is permitted in Far Eastern rock gardens.

Step by step to the Zen garden

Step 1 - plan Zen garden correctly:

Before you get straight to work, you first have to come up with a concept and plan your new garden properly. An exact sketch with dimensions is essential, because this is the only way you can create the sand surfaces later.

It is also important that you mark where the large stones and plants will be positioned later. The choice, number and clever arrangement must ultimately create a harmonious overall picture.

This is followed by the cost calculation. You need:

Folie Garden film / garden fleece
➥ light gravel / sand
➥ stones
➥ plants
➥ garden figures

If you use the sketch to calculate the required amount of gravel and determine where what should later be, then you will be able to see roughly how much the garden will cost later.

Step 2 - remove the lawn:

Using the sketch and using rods and a long cord, trace the lines of the area that will later form the gravel bed.

Once this is done, you have to clear the entire area of ​​grass, weeds and roots and dig out the gravel bed about 20 centimeters deep. In a large garden, renting a small excavator can be worthwhile. Otherwise you are well served with spades, shovels and a few helpers. After excavation, roll the soil flat if possible.

To prevent this area from growing again, you must line the entire area with a water-permeable film or a garden fleece.

Step 3 - fill up gravel / sand:

The next step is to fill the area with gravel or sand. You will quickly notice that it is not necessary to attach the film because the gravel automatically fixes it. You have to fill up so much sand / gravel that you can rake the surface later easily and easily, without damaging the film or the garden fleece.

The gravel in combination with the film / fleece will not give weeds a chance to grow in the future. Annoying weed picking does not occur in a Zen garden at all.

Step 4 - plant bonsai trees / moss:

In a traditional Japanese rock garden, only bonsai trees and occasionally moss may be planted. It is also important that you do not overdo it. Depending on the size of your garden, one large and two small bonsai trees can be sufficient. Finally, large stones are added here.

Less is more and that applies one hundred percent in a Zen garden. Under no circumstances should you plant small bonsai groves a lá flower bed.

To plant the bonsai, you just have to cut the film or fleece in a cross shape and insert the saplings in the ground. Then cover everything nicely with the gravel.

Step 5 - integrate stones / rocks / boulders in the garden:

Now it's all about placing stones, rocks or boulders in the Zen garden as a symbol for mountainous landscapes. You should strictly ensure that you do not arrange them in symmetry, but in a wave-like manner, which gives the garden a lot of tranquility.

It is also important that you integrate stones of different sizes in your Zen garden, because this also mimics the movement of the waves. It is best to use large white stones. Skillfully placed granite blocks also look very pretty.

Step 6 - set up garden figures / sculptures:

Like in any other garden or like any other garden style, garden figures naturally also fit into a Zen garden. Works of art for the home garden that perfectly match the Japanese style are e.g. Stone lanterns and Buddhas.

But here, too, less is more again and so you should really only place figures and sculptures occasionally, and then place them so that they form a harmonious picture with the rest of the garden design. Such garden figures look particularly beautiful under a bonsai tree in combination with smaller stones.

Step 7 - rake lines in the gravel:

The last thing is to rake lines without a recognizable start and end in the gravel. These should represent the movement of the water and thus ensure relaxation. You can hardly imagine that if you haven't seen it yourself, but the waves in the sand really look like those of the water later.

Of course it won't look perfect in the beginning, but in time you will get the hang of it and conjure up perfect wavy lines. And if you have a lot of practice, you can play with patterns and amaze everyone in your garden.