A Zen garden is an experience in contemplation. How to use your space is the big question when you have sand, rocks, and simple bonsai trees in an organized space befitting of a garden that is in harmony with itself and its surroundings. A Zen garden is a practice in patience as you choose every inch of your space and how it should look. Here is a guide to your garden inspired by inner contemplation and the order of the Universe.
In Zen garden meditation, the sand represents water and its many moving patterns that can flow through life. The rocks represent mountains and how they seem to be immovable.
A Zen garden can be big or small, depending upon the space you have dedicated to it. When you plan for your garden you will probably need sand the most. A Zen garden has a layer of sand laid down upon it and then rocks interspersed on top of it. Traditionally, a Zen garden is a flat surface but it doesn’t necessarily have to a square or rectangular. A Zen garden should blend into the surrounding landscape. If you have a large rock or tree in the way, just curve the garden around it and it will be harmonious.
You will need a special wooden rake for the Zen garden as well. Not only does the rake keep it clean but it makes patterns in the sand. Zen garden rakes have wooden dowel-like rods that can make impressions in the sand. Turn the rake over onto the thicker head that holds the dowels and you can smooth out the sand. Turn the rake on its side and you can make still more swirling patterns. Some Zen rakes have four dowels, others have more. The more dowels you have the more intricate patterns you can create.
Making the Garden
You will want to find extra fine white sand for your garden. It is easier to move once it is in your garden. Rocks are up to you, but you can find rocks of varying sizes and types to go in your garden. Japan has both volcanic rocks and sedimentary rocks by the seashore, so either type is appropriate. Lava rocks, black rocks, gray rocks, tall rocks, and short rocks can all go in your garden.
You will need to clear out the area for your garden and lay down some plastic or even some hard wooden planks like a huge sandbox. Poke a few holes in it for some water drainage. You may also want to have some borders and sides around it to prevent any dirt going into your garden. Make the bottom as level as possible before you cover it over.
Add several inches of sand as you will be raking the sand over and over throughout the life of your Zen garden. For huge rocks, enlist the help of some other people that can help you lift the rocks if need be. Rocks don’t have to be gigantic but they can get hard to handle for just one person.
You can add other little things to your garden such as a Buddha or a bonsai tree as well to add just a little touch to your Zen experience. The point of the garden is to be in a place that is simple and away from the complexities of life.
Maintaining your Zen garden is as simple as using a rake. Leaves, if you get any in your garden can be raked out with your wooden Zen rake or left in for a little bit for your meditation. You can move the rocks to different places of your garden but it will be difficult to position the larger ones. Zen gardens are great additions to your home to get you away from the raucousness of modern life.