Zen Garden Design Ideas

By Eva K. Renard , last updated January 27, 2012

With the addition of a few simple elements, you can turn your home garden into a beautiful, relaxing Zen garden. Whether you're looking for a place to meditate or simply to spend some time outside and just "be," a Zen garden is the perfect addition to your home.


Before you start designing your Zen garden, it's a good idea to spend some time planning. How large is your garden space? If it's small, you may want to choose one design element rather than trying to fit several in. How much time do you want to spend in upkeep of your garden? If you don't have a lot of time to spend in maintenance, you may want to keep plants to a minimum and focus on a rock garden instead. What is your budget? If you are looking to make an investment in your Zen garden, you can splurge on a fountain or even a koi pond; if your budget is more modest you may want to stick to simpler design elements that are a one-time investment, with no upkeep expenses.

Design Elements

The most basic element of any garden, of course, is plant life. Traditional plants for a Japanese garden include evergreens such as cedar, trees such as yew and Japanese maples, and mosses. Zen gardens are unique, however, in that plants are not a necessity--conceivably, your Zen garden could be a simple rock garden, perhaps with a bench where you can sit and enjoy the view.

Other elements to consider including in your Zen garden are a small, simple bridge, a pond (with or without fish), lamps, pathways, sand (especially as a base for your rock garden) and small sculptures. If you’re looking for the ultimate in style and relaxation, you could even convert your garden shed into a Japanese-style teahouse! Whatever design elements you choose to incorporate, your Zen garden should reflect your unique personality and style.

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