It’s a sad but true fact that stress is a big part of our everyday lives. We have to meet deadlines, we have a lot of things to worry about and work on, but sadly we have very few chances to calm down and relax after a long day. People usually go to a spa or on a vacation in order to relax, but you can do it in your own backyard too. If you’d like to know how you can turn your boring old backyard into a charming Zen garden, read on!
The outlines of a Zen garden
It can be difficult to give a simple answer to a question: “what exactly is a Zen garden”. It’s a simplified representation of the natural world where wilderness is tamed and resurrected. Rock formations are more than ‘just rocks’ as they can often replace ponds and/or streams, and there’s also plenty of moss and sand, as well as pruned trees. On the other hand, there are also gardens that don’t have any water or plants, miniature gardens, as well as gardens the size of a football field. While size and elements of Zen garden may vary, there is one thing that all of them have in common: they bring the individual a healing of a body as well as the mind.
Your garden should be clean and neat, so when you’re adding sand, make sure you set a wooden mold into which you’ll pour the sand in later. This will keep it in place but it will also help you maintain it with ease. Use the rakes to create long, curving patterns which will represent ripples of water and bring peace to the place. You can also use the rakes to create not only ripple-like patterns but different shapes and mandalas too. Set your creativity free but arm yourself with patience as raking the sand into wave and ripple patterns is challenging and rather difficult.
Keep in mind that traditional Japanese rock gardens don’t have plants, so if you’re aiming to get that traditional look you can simply skip the plants. On the other hand, you can pick the plants which will look good in your yard or work your way around plants you already have. Even your trees and bushes can become integrated into your Zen project, but you need to use garden secateurs to prune them regularly and keep them neat. Hot and dry areas can use cacti as well as simple succulents, but you could also choose vines or even potted plants. Yellow blossoms are a great way to channel a yang energy whereas dark green plants will balance it out with a yin energy in return.
In a traditional Zen garden, water is replaced and symbolized by the wave-like shapes that you create in the sand using rakes or by aligning differently shaped rocks and gravel. Still, a great number of western landscapers often use water features such as small ponds, streams, or waterfalls in their Zen gardens because the presence and the sound of moving water has a calming effect. Not only is it relaxing, but it also can be of great help when a person is trying to focus and meditate. On the other hand, you should always aim to pick a feature that will become an organic part of the garden and not stand out.
Another important thing is not to clutter your garden with plants, decorations, and water features. You’re not trying to plant a jungle but to create a peaceful place where you can relax and meditate, and clutter will have the opposite effect. The goal and the beauty of a Zen garden lie in its simplicity and minimalism which aim to show that you don’t need much to find peace. Instead of placing plenty of decorations around, you can achieve a more dramatic effect by strategically placing different lighting around. However, if you do have plenty of things you wish to keep in your garden, you can build your own simple storage. Use crates for storing gardening equipment, planting supplies etc. Also, you shouldn’t let your hose lie around the garden, disturbing the peace; instead you can opt for simple hose reels and place them somewhere where they are out of sight.
Healing of the soul
While you will notice that your body is getting stronger because of the work you put into building and maintaining your Zen garden, you will also notice the positive effect on your mind. These gardens are believed to have a healing effect on emotional well being because by staying there and relaxing you are letting go of stress and pressure. Even hospitals around the world are incorporating these gardens into their treatments and recovery routines, and you will certainly gain many benefits by creating your own in your backyard.
While we might struggle to find time for ourselves and set aside enough money to travel to an exotic destination for a relaxing holiday, we can still put in a bit more effort and create a peaceful oasis in the comfort of our homes. Spending time in a Zen garden will allow you to find a piece of mind and your inner peace more easily, and it will help you deal with everyday stress and pressure in a healthier and more effective way.
About the Author
Ron Wolf is studying to become a civil engineer by day and he’s an avid blogger by night. His first contact with construction and home improvement was when he worked with my father during summer breaks at his construction company in Australia. The first thing he taught him was safety. Next came the basics of materials, architecture, and design. So you could say he was naturally preordered for this kind of work.