Five ways to add some Zen to your garden

General Landscaping


You’ve probably heard of Zen. But while you know that it’s a good thing and you could probably do with it in your life, do you actually know what it is?

Many people will tell you it’s Japanese and has stuff to do with monks. That popular notion is, unfortunately, inaccurate as Zen is actually a school of Mahayana Buddhism that emerged in China around 15 centuries ago.

The bottom line for you, though, is that Ch’an as it’s known in Chinese (Zen in Japanese) has become the go-to word to pretty much describe anything that’s calming and centering. Therefore, it makes sense that adding a touch of Zen to your garden is a good thing.

Here are five ways you can do it:


Sand plays a crucial role in every traditional Zen garden, which is why you should set aside an area (large or small) and fill it with the golden stuff. A small wooden rake is also required, so you have a tool with which to create lines, waves and circles in the sand. This is where your relaxation begins.


Some people choose to put river rocks in their sandpits to act as features, but larger ones can also be placed anywhere in your garden to increase its Zen. Don’t forget, though, minimalism is important and less is more when you’re aiming for true Zen.

Water feature

A tabletop fountain; a small waterfall; or even a larger koi pond, no Zen garden is complete without a water feature. Just the sound of running water is enough to make you feel relaxed, but when you add some beautiful fish into the equation the effects are multiplied.

[Recommended read: 5 benefits of landscape water features]


The final element to bring everything together is music. Whether it’s traditional Japanese-style music which inspires meditation, or some panpipe moods, it’s totally up to you. Heavy metal or dance music, however, might not create quite the right vibe.

Feng Shui

The finishing touch is ensuring the feng shui (ancient Chinese art of placement) in your garden is in order. You want to encourage a good flow of chi, which is an energy force that can bring good things. It’s all about balancing the five elements of feng shui: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. In a nutshell: try and avoid clutter, and have clean, open spaces wherever possible.

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