The Zen spiritual garden


The Zen spiritual garden was used by Japanese Buddhist monks from around the 13th century as a place to contemplate and meditate. Layered to create a three dimensional image, a Zen spiritual garden is planned with a foreground and a background leading into a perspective. Follow the tips below to create your own Zen garden.

Water features

All elements have a purpose for being in the garden and water is the provider of life. It is a natural element that can be displayed as a stream, pond or water feature. Sand can also be used to represent water, an ideal solution in dry climates, but using the real thing is ok too.

Plants suitable for Australia’s climate

Plants bring emotion to the garden with various colours, heights and textures. Kangaroo Paw is an Australian native plant that is drought resistant – perfect for areas with water restrictions. Other Australian native plants suitable for Zen gardens include Birds Nest Fern, Red Bottlebrush, Dogwood, Moreton Bay Fig, Tea Tree, Wattle Mat Rush, Coastal Salt Bush, Small-leaved Lillypilly and a variety of gum trees.

Rocks are one of the most important elements of a Zen garden because they create dimension

Rocks for your garden

Rocks are one of the most important elements of a Zen garden because they create dimension. They reflect the scale of time and also provide presence and energy. Select your rocks and stones and then grade them into sizes, with larger to the front and smaller in the background. Choose well worn rocks to add depth and character.

Water alternatives

A sand or pebble formation can be used as an alternative to the element of water. Swirl the sand around to create a rippling or rushing water effect and the swirls will also provide energy to the garden. The sand used in Zen gardens is not beach sand but crushed granite and comes in various shades. Use light coloured pebbles to brighten up a dark area.

Bridge your garden

A bridge is one of the architectural elements that can be used in a Zen garden. They are used to connect different areas of the garden and provide you with views of the garden otherwise unobtainable.

Decorative ornaments

Ornaments are another architectural element that add atmosphere to the garden and serve as focal points. They are ideal for helping to create a sense of distance. This stone lantern is in keeping with the Zen feel of the garden.

Gated garden

The beauty of a Zen garden is it can be created in the smallest of spaces. The illusion of depth and space can be created through the placement of elements. Place a gate at the entrance of your garden to further enhance the illusion.