Oriental & Zen Gardens

The quintessential Oriental Garden is about nature, peace and tranquility, providing a spiritual haven offering a balance in one’s life. In this garden, one admires the informal, natural curves dominating the landscape, with a stone walkway leading to a bridge spanning a stream or koi pond. Dry creek beds meander through evergreen shrubs and trees that produce a tranquil green background. Sand, stone, and partially buried boulders accent the curving pathways. Flowers are kept to a minimum and are seasonal. Asian ornaments adorn the harmonious garden. The Oriental Garden is an excellent choice for a small-space garden.

Oriental Garden Elements: Three main elements of the Oriental Garden feature water, rocks, and ornaments. Sand can also be incorporated, especially in a Zen Garden. Natural stone and exposed aggregate concrete make excellent surfaces for patios and walkways. The outdoor kitchen may include a teppanyaki grill, or a flat-iron grill. The patio features authentic Asian-style furniture and accessories while bamboo water spouts, stone lanterns, statues, sculptures and basins, Torii gates, rain chains, arbors, and bamboo fence panels add to the ambiance of the tranquil environment.

Oriental Garden Plants: Selecting plants that are in scale with your yard, some great additions to an Asian garden are Japanese Black Pine, Japanese Maple, Hinoki Cypress, Saucer Magnolia, Japanese Holly, Sword Ferns, Azaleas, Camellias, Dwarf Gardenias, Dwarf Junipers in bonsai form, Iris, Lily Turf, Mondo Grass with selected areas of Baby’s Tears and Elfin Thyme as groundcovers.

Bonsai specimens, especially in Asian-style containers, are a must for the Oriental Garden.

Zen Garden

The traditional Zen Garden is basically an outdoor rock garden with sand raked into a labyrinth pattern. If you have the space, this sea of sand displays rocks (islands) that are often designed as a focal point within a larger Oriental Garden. A popular pattern is a group of mounding rocks centered in a sea of sand or gravel. The hand-raked sand represents the ripples, or waves, on the surface of the water as if dropped by a stone. As the pattern radiates outward, they interact with other parallel lines.

Instead of natural rocks or boulders, you may use stones resembling animals.

A platform, or seating area, is an important element in the Zen Garden. Used to view the garden, the deck is often constructed of wood composite material. If concrete, a raised deck is important. Think of your home as a temple and the platform as a porch. A low, bamboo fence or rock wall should surround the sand bed, allowing you to separate yourself and the garden from stress beyond the wall.

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