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If you've ever been to Japan, then you've likely been fortunate to visit a traditional Japanese Zen Garden. Using nature and thousands of years of zen garden design tradition, masters of the art continue to create beautiful examples of Zen garden design. Careful use of sand, rock and water, along with the deliberate training of trees and other plantings create something much

larger, and more magical than the sum of its parts. In many ways, a Japanese Zen Garden mirrors the environment and culture of Japan. A traditional Zen Garden includes smaller-scale scenes of the natural environment - where the ocean meets the rocky shorelines - where the streams and rivers meet the mountain side - where simplicity follows the teachings of Zen.

japanese zen garden design

What Makes a Japanese Zen Garden So Special?

Creating a Zen Garden requires great patience and the ability to work with nature, rather than against it. Mosses don't grow on rock overnight - trees take many years to train - and a Zen garden takes a great deal of dedication in order to maintain its Zen simplicity. Traditionally, Zen gardens were integrated with Buddhist temples. In this way, Monks would spend their time in a kind of working meditation tending to the garden. The results were, and still are breathtaking. A visit to a temple like Ginkakuji in Kyoto reveal the masterful craft of Zen Garden design and centuries of careful maintenance of both the temple and the grounds.

zen rock garden

zen sand garden

Can I design and build my own Zen Garden?

Of course! But you'll want to spend some time researching first before you get started. While it may seem like a simple endeavor, Zen garden design is much more than just buying a lantern, a pile of rocks, sand and some bamboo. If you're after a traditional look, it's important to understand that the reason a well-designed Zen garden looks great is because the designer understands that every piece of the garden has to have a clear purpose. Rather than haphazardly placing rocks and lanterns, a Zen Garden designer will spend time finding the perfect rock that may resemble a mountain top and collect other elements that he can use to mirror real scenes from nature. When done properly, a Zen Garden will seem effortless.


"A Traditional Japanese Zen Garden Design may seem simple, however, close inspection shows an incredible attention to detail".

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