Mini Zen Garden: Japanese rock gardens made easy

I’ve had an interest in Japanese culture from a young age, and one aspect I’ve always found interesting is the Japanese rock garden. It’s completely antithetical to our idea of a ‘garden’. There aren’t bright flowers, herbs, or dirt, instead, moss, water features, pruned shrubs, and gravel are the essential elements. Despite the differences, I’ve found them very aesthetically pleasing to look at; maybe it’s the suggestion of ripples created in the gravel, and little islands of small trees that makes you feel like you’re in an undisturbed place. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking of incorporating a miniature zen garden into my own backyard.

Where did it begin?

Called ‘Karesansui’ in Japanese, these peaceful gardens originated in medieval Japan. It began in the Heian period (784-1185), inspired by Chinese gardens of the Song dynasty. Once Buddhism was instructed in Japan, meditation was an important connotation with these gardens. Based on the Smithsonian, one of the most famous is in Kyoto at the 15th century ‘Temple of the Peaceful Dragon’; the garden there is the size of a tennis court and made of 15 large and small rocks, moss, and white sand. 

Zen garden at the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon /

So many centuries of history show how popular this style of garden really is. Since we’ve talked so much about meditation, it might be nice to try (although maybe not the size of a tennis court!). 

Ideas for your own mini zen garden

I’ve been scouring the web for ideas to make my own mini version! Here are some pretty tutorials that might inspire you to make your own! Especially for those people who don’t have a green thumb, these could be a great alternative!

The basic materials you will need: a container, sand (from the garden or buy décor sand) or small gravel, small rocks, moss, mini plants (succulents could work for this!), mini rake (or fork).

Proflowers has a really easy tutorial:

Click HERE

Keep it simple by using a bowl or plate:

Click HERE

Zen garden using a shadow box: 

Add a modern touch with fake studded cacti:

One with a combinations of modern gardens and the Zen garden: 

Click HERE

There’s lots of ideas, so you can make it as simple or complex as you like! I think the most important thing is that it should be RELAXING. Are you going to add this to your own house or garden?

By Nimra


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