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How To Make Your Garden a Zen Place

Posted by Bridgman on

Extend your Zen-like state of mind into the garden with a minimal, fuss-free design that has natural materials, pared-back planting and strong, geometric lines at its heart. All together now, Ommmm...


Look To The East

Way back in the 14th century, Zen Buddhist priests created very austere gardens for meditation. The same basic rules apply today if you want an outdoor space that is calm, simple and contemplative but try a design that is less formal and more personal for all your friends and family to enjoy. Think natural materials (smooth pebbles, craggy stones and fine sands), bamboo fences and panels (marking out boundaries of your Zen garden is a key part of the visual design) and a sprinkling of Buddhist statues and wind chimes. Don't forget lighting for when night-time falls; while not typically Asian, I love strings of pretty fairylights and row upon row of tealights to illuminate tables, paths and borders. For masses of inspiration head to


Limit Materials

If you want a peaceful and serene mood in your Zen garden the key is to stick to a simple palette of landscaping materials to achieve a clean and simple look. This might mean a formal layout of pale grey slabs offset with a neatly manicured lawn or even planks of timber decking combined with concrete borders and troughs, but in the same weathered, neutral tones. Too many different materials and your garden will feel fussy. Take the design concept one step further by picking out garden furniture in the same harmonious palette for an easy-on-the-eye backdrop for your day's reflections.


Plant With Care

Every garden needs plants to soften boundaries and hard landscaping, and that includes the Zen design too. The difference here, is that you should restrict your choice of plants to around three different species and rather than going for a bold profusion of country-cottage florals, choose sculptural evergreens like conifers or bamboo for year-round colour (the tall canes create a soothing rustling sound in the breeze too). Then, pick out a few other plants to reflect the changing seasons: cherry blossoms for spring and Japanese maples for autumn, so you and your garden can be in complete harmony with nature. For a general spring overhaul head to

Work In Water

Harness a modern Asian vibe by including an element of water in your garden design. A pond, stream or waterfall are all low-key, soothing features of the natural landscape that will help instil a calm and relaxing ambience into any Zen space. Water gives positive energy too which can only be a good thing. If you are lucky enough to live near water, enhance with natural-style pebbles, rocks and plants; otherwise splash out on a contemporary water feature (I like the simplicity of a stainless steel orb or sandstone monolith) and let the background ebb and flow wash over your mind, body and soul.

Mini Zen Garden

Don't throw up your hands in despair if you live four floors up with no outdoor space to call your own, as you'll find masses of inspiration on the internet on how to create your very own DIY mini Zen garden. With a few stones, a bag of sand, a wooden frame and half a day spare, you can conjure up your own little patch of peace and quiet - and although your Zen garden may be indoors and pocket sized, it will definitely instil an overwhelming sense of harmony and mindfulness into your living space (and the very process of creating it might be therapeutic too). Check out a brilliant step-by-step guide on and let tranquillity pervade...


Do you have any top tips for creating a Zen garden? We'd love to hear your thoughts and see your images...


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