Melt stress away with a Zen garden in your home or landscape

A Zen type garden with rock instead of raked sandCredit: Photo in LotusLand by Jane Gates

In this day and age of stress and worry, you can create your own garden retreat without spending a lot of time, effort or money. You don't even need a lot of room to build your own version of the Japanese Zen garden. But you can calm your nerves by raking designs in sand or simply meditating for a few moments with your own personal therapy retreat when it suits you.

A Zen garden can be created on any scale. You can build a large one using different levels over a spreading piece of property or you can partition off a single area to make it into an outdoor room. You can turn a small balcony into a Japanese meditation garden or you can devote just a section of patio for your peaceful  home retreat. Even if you have no gardening space at all, you can buy a small tabletop Zen garden, complete with its miniature sand rake to pose on a living room table or to set right on your office desk.

A Zen garden is a contemplative space that is kept simple so you can focus your attention in a small, defined space. Manyof these gardening areas are simply a version of a sand box with one or two strategically placed rocks. The sand is then raked into neat geometric patterns to keep the scene neat, orderly and restful to the eye. A larger Japanese landscape design can include Zen garden features with areas of river rock, sand, flat soil or concrete and selected features. Any rock or living plant creates a feature, and each feature is to be studied and appreciated on its own. There should be no busyness or unnecessary frivolity. If you add a living plant, it should be a slow-growing choice without noticeable flowers to interrupt the sense of peace and tranquility.

Beautiful Asian gardens have been constructed by masters all over the world. The study of a true meditation garden is an art. But if you want to create a garden of simplicity to calm your nerves or to add serene beauty to your landscape, check into any of the available books or websites that will show you examples and give you guides on different ways to design your own Zen garden. Then blend those concepts to your own space and sensibilities.