How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Wondering how to build your Backyard Zen garden? It’s really not that difficult. You just need to pay attention to a couple of very simple principles in order to have your very own Zen space. But first, what exactly is Zen?

Zen (noun):  a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.

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How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

That’s the official definition. Then, there is the Urban Dictionary definition:

“One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.”

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

It’s all still very Buddhist. It’s here and now, its shedding “ego”… and it’s a great design for your backyard. Think of it as your quiet space, your escape from reality – you can even use it as your meditation area. Plus, what a conversation piece. Source

Where do I start? Design.

You start by designing your garden. There are a few rules. There are actually very serious rules. A Zen garden should promote naturalness (Shizen), simplicity (Kanso) and austerity (Koko). On a visual level, Zen gardening is all about precision and Balance. Less is More. If an old English garden or a wildflower meadow is your cup of tea – you won’t like a this garden, trust me.

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How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Rocks symbolize mountains, while raked  gravel or sand suggest ripples on the water. You may incorporate actual water features but more often than not, Zen gardens are dry. There are never flowers – there can be grasses and plants (bamboo comes to mind) and select trees (Ornamental Cherry, Japanese Maple), shorter trees that can be trimmed with canopy tops. Bonzai are ideal. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

The Seven Guiding Principles of a Zen Garden

Shinzen – Naturalness

Kanso  – Simplicity

Koko – Austerity

Fukinsei – Asymmetry

Yugen – Mystery

Datsuzoku – Magical

Seijaku – Stillness

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

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Next up: Location

The Zen garden must be quiet and must promote the seven guiding principles above. If you create your garden near coniferous trees – you’ll be picking up leaves all fall. In the case below, a roof does a lot of the leaf catching.

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

It’s great to have a dedicated large space for your garden – but not required. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

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The roof catches falling blossoms or leaves. The rocks look like islands in the ocean, don’t they? Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

You can make your sand ocean as wavy as you like. One of the big keys is simplicity.

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

See how the zen garden flows? And it is so balanced and natural. Source

Tending the Zen Garden

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Raking your Zen garden is a form of mediation. Other than that, they don’t take much maintenance. Part of the simplicity. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

You’ll need to buy a full size Zen garden rake if you want to use sand or finely crushed stone to represent water.

Rocking Your Zen Garden

Aside from the natural rocks that represent mountains, you can also build a meditation tower of rocks. Or you could use colorful rocks for your pathways. Just try to stick to the basic principles (don’t get too fancy).

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Rocks make a great meditation focus point for your zen garden. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Match your sand and rock color for a stunning look in your zen place.

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

You can use colored rocks in your zen garden for a stunning effect. Source

Modern Designs

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Kengo Kuma Architects rendering  of a Zen garden is ultra modern. Source

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How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A close up – stunning simplicity in the cement, water and bamboo.  Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Modern Zen river rocks represent a river.  Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Using rocks as patterns is a modern twist to a Japanese Zen garden. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

You can even use paving stones. Use your imagination, within the limits of the seven guiding principles. Source

Traditional Japanese Designs

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

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A Japanese gate welcomes the visitor. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Courtyard garden – you can design your zen wherever you have space.

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Mount Koya Zen Garden. Source

Backyard Zen

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

The red Bamboo is a unique touch to a backyard space. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

This home has a Japanese style roof and Foo dog sculptures. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

Mid-century modern Zen garden. (Zillow)

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A little backyard zen goes a long way. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A dry Zen garden with a bridge over the gravel that represents the river. Source

Eclectic Zen Gardens

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

This Zen face makes an interesting focal point.  Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A Zen bath tub in the garden. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A forest of eclectic Buddha stools and benches. Source

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

A winding meditation path is pure zen.

How to Build Your Backyard Zen Garden: Weekend DIY

And here’s a simple way to make a quick Zen garden – add a meditating dog. Available at Etsy.

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