Source: Decoist

Rest your Mind Inside the Beauty of a Japanese ‘Karesansui’ Garden

Dating back to the fifteenth century, Japanese zen gardens were traditionally found at temples and monasteries. Designed to calm the mind, the gardens have found a renewed popularity in the modern-day search for peace and tranquillity.

A traditional Japanese zen garden or Karesansui is also often referred to as a rock garden or dry landscape garden. Defined by its controlled natural landscape, a Japanese zen garden will usually consist of carefully raked sand and a thoughtfully placed collection of stones, gravel, moss and shrubs. Let’s take you through some of the ways that you can bring a little Japanese zen into your own garden at home.

Image: A zen garden in Kyoto Source: Discover Kyoto

Raked sand or gravel

In traditional Japanese zen gardens, you will sand carefully raked into patterns and spirals. Usually, these patterns will represent the sea or a similar soothing body of water. Usually, Japanese zen gardens do not contain real water, which is why they are often referred to as dry landscape gardens. The raked sand is designed to add a level of depth to the garden. However, if you are after something with a little less upkeep then you can always use gravel instead.

Rocks and stones

Karesansui or rock sculptures are a focal point of a Japanese zen garden. If you are creating your own zen garden then you can play with the shape and placement of the rocks. In Japan, rocks are usually used to symbolise certain natural structures including, mountains, islands and even waterfalls. Whether you choose to space out your rocks in a stepping stone path or create a collection of symbolic structures, simply make sure that the rocks are placed in a way that feels right to you.

Image: A rock and plant carefully placed in the raked sand Source: Discover Kyoto

Moss and greenery

Moss is often used at the edge of a zen garden to define the garden’s beginning and end. Moss and greenery can be very calming and are a lovely contrast to the more neutral shades of the garden. While traditional Japanese zen gardens tend to use low-growing plants and refrain from using too much greenery as not to clutter the mind, you can bring as much as you like into your own garden. Evergreen conifers and other low growing shrubs are favoured in most zen gardens.

Image: Zen garden at Myoren-ji in Kyoto Source: John S. Lander/Getty Images

A bridge or lantern

Adding an unnatural feature like a bridge or lantern into the garden can give the space a centre to aid meditation and contemplation. Usually, these objects are made of natural materials such as wood or stone. The combination of man-made and natural materials can bring a little magic into space. We love these objects to have a pop of unexpected colour, like the bright red bridge in the image below.

A gate or barrier

Zen gardens are supposed to be spaces that are separated from the outside world. By giving the space a boundary, you can protect the peaceful energy of the garden. To do so, you can simply ensure that grass, moss or stones define the line of where the garden begins, or if your zen garden is bigger then you may use a gate or fence to partition the area. We love the way wooden doors are used to keep the zen garden separate in the third image.

Image: The clever use of wooden sliding doors keeps this garden separate Source: Decoist

Need more gardening inspiration? Try creating your own herbal tea garden or a vertical garden next!

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