How a Zen Garden can Benefit Your Landscaping

July 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm

zen gardenZen gardens have evolved from their Buddhist monk origins and may now include lighting, artwork, water features and bridges. How you want your Zen garden interpreted is a reflection of your personal tastes and should fit with your overall landscape design. Basic Zen gardens are low maintenance and their beauty can be appreciated even on rainy or snowy days when viewed through windows.

Although Zen Gardens are different for each property, some basic elements form the foundation of these simplistic landscape design masterpieces.


Stone is an intrinsic part of a Zen Garden as large boulders represent islands, form bridges and offer steps along a path. Stones often form the basic structure of these gardens and play a key role in the overall appearance.

Smooth, rounded pebbles come next in the garden and range in size from fingertip width to large enough to hold in the palm. Pebbles create fields around the larger stones and outline pathways. The smallest stone particles in the garden are sand and fine gravel.

If there isn’t a water feature in your Zen Garden landscape design, sand and fine gravel can represent water by being raked into ripples and patterns that form a base for any planting beds.


Bamboo is the most traditional fencing for a Zen Garden. It’s a renewal resource and workable into elaborate gate and fence creations. Bamboo fencing not only encloses and frames a Zen Garden, it’s also at the heart of the visual design.

Water features

The sound and sight of water has a calming effect on all who enter a Zen Garden. Water is a more modern addition to Zen Gardens with streams, ponds and waterfalls becoming beautiful elements among the stones and bamboo fencing. Ponds filled with koi fish can also add an  interactive element to the landscape design.


Every landscape design benefits from the addition of lighting. The right lighting carries the space from a daylight oasis to a beautifully shadowed nighttime retreat. Pagoda lights are traditional in Zen Gardens but other styles of artistic light fixtures work well too. Highlighting trees, water features and bamboo fencing with spotlights or ground-level lighting creates depth and intrigue in a Zen Garden.

Living artwork

Plantings often become living artwork in a Zen Garden landscape design. Groupings of grasses, the winding branches and minute leaves of a Japanese Maple, lily pads in the koi pond and beds of grass or moss draw the eye further into the space and over each element. A Zen Garden shouldn’t be overflowing with plants though as that contradicts its focus on simplicity and serenity.

Incorporate the elements of a Zen garden in your landscape design to gain a deeper level of simplicity and serenity to your already breathtaking property. Strolling through the pathways, listening to the water, admiring the plants and following the nature-inspired patterns with your eyes can easily bring a sense of serenity and calm. Whether in a large courtyard or small atrium, Zen gardens are unique and beautiful landscape creations.