How to build a Zen garden
George North


Have you ever wondered how to build a Zen garden in your backyard? The act of recreating the peaceful atmosphere of a Zen garden within the bounds of your own backyard is just as rewarding as ensconcing within its tranquillity afterwards. In recreating your own Zen garden, you will come to appreciate the philosophy therein.


While there is an art to building a Zen garden, there are also infinite Zen garden designs and configurations. Don’t let the endless possibilities overwhelm you, though. Designing and building your Zen garden should still serve as a pleasurable pursuit.


Select the most important elements of your Zen garden. Traditionally, Zen gardens are a dry representation of a miniature landscape. The combed sand signifies rippling water, while the rocks imitate mountains. Zen gardens are also minimalist in nature. However, a few other well placed elements are key in making this garden homely rather than sandpit-ish.






















The essential elements of your Zen garden design:


• White or beige sand


• Large irregularly shaped rocks


• Smooth pebbles


• Small, manicured trees and bushes


Zen garden design 101


The larger your garden, the more elements you can add. Just remember not to clutter the garden with too many features as this will detract from the original purpose of the garden – a place dedicated to peaceful contemplation. A true Zen garden is neat, organised and serene. To ensure you don’t clutter your garden, add elements slowly, one by one, over time.


Additional Zen garden elements:


• A bench


• Interestingly shaped wooden logs


• Water features


• Buddhist sculptures


• Pagoda lamps or garden lights


• Pathways from stone or wood


outdoor zen garden





















Step 1: Level the area


Before you lay your sand it is essential to level the area. Without a level surface, rain will wash your sand away in a heartbeat. If your garden has a steep incline, you will need to terrace the area to achieve a flat bed.


Step 2: Edge the edges


Edging the existing flowerbeds with pebbles, stones or wooden boards will create the prized sense of order which Zen gardens are known for. You may however want to reconsider the layout of your flowerbeds if they are too cluttered or ‘un-Zen’.


Step 3: Drop the rocks


Place big rocks in the garden in such a way as to mimic rocky outcrops emerging from the ocean. You may need to dig shallow recesses to successfully achieve this look.


Step 4: Lay the sand


What may seem like the simplest step actually requires patience. The sand needs to be even and thick enough to cover the bumps and inconsistencies in the ground. Aim for a consistent depth of at least 5cm of sand.


Step 5: The finishing touches


The final elements of the garden should be added sparingly, over time. Whatever you do, don’t clutter your Zen garden. And now you know how to build a Zen garden in your backyard. Landscaping and Zen garden design may just be your new outlet.