Key Elements of Zen Gardening

Here are tips to creating a peaceful Zen garden. The first thing to consider is deciding on the size of your Zen garden. A medium sized space works quite well (about the size of a large deck). Then you need to include a water element, natural rocks or stone, a bench or seating area, and beautiful plants. This task will be made easier if a sketch of the area is made and where each element will be placed. Next create a shopping list and a few extra pairs of hands. Also, it is helpful to clear the designated area of any debris and to prepare the soil properly for the types of plants purchased.

Once the area is cleared it will be time to purchase a water element. Small fountains or water walls work well. If the space designated can accommodate a small pond that will be beautiful also. Below are lists of plants, which tend to work well for a Zen garden.

Japanese Maple Tree (Acer Palmatum) – Zone 5-8. Japanese maples are often used as accent or specimen plants and are usually the focal point of a Japanese garden. Japanese maples need light shade and do not tolerate full sun, overly hot summer or dry soil conditions.

Japanese Apricot (Prunus mume) – Zones 6-9. Another ornamental flowering shrub or tree often used in Japanese gardens for the scented, pink flowers, the Japanese Apricot bears fruit as well. The Japanese apricot is a low-maintenance plant that lends itself to gentle shaping and pruning. Grow in moist, fertile soil.

Chrysanthemum hortorum or Chrysanthemum morifolium -Chrysanthemum back around the end of June to allow for bud and flower development.

Moss – There are several different species of mosses that can be used in a Japanese Garden and most are evergreen providing a lush color to shady garden areas year round. All moss prefers shade and moisture for proper growth.


Japanese Water Iris (Iris ensata) – The Japanese water iris is a graceful perennial flower that prefers moisture retentive soil and can actually grow in standing water for much of the growing season.

Next, every Zen garden needs a seating area or a few depending on the size of your space. A few stone or concrete benches or natural elements like tree stumps work equally as well as store bought items.

Lastly, purchasing rocks or small statues will add to the meditative aspects of the garden.

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