Designing a Zen garden: this belongs in a Japanese rock garden

A Zen garden is more than just a Japanese rock garden. It can also help bring calm and serenity to your head. But what does it all take to make it work?

The garden is mainly dominated by the element stone. In Japan, however, entire gardens are designed this way.

Zen gardens are rock gardens that are supposed to bring inner peace to the visitor. They have a long history, because they have been known at least since the 8th century. However, they gained their popularity especially since the 14th century with the expansion of Buddhism, from whose ideas their development was shaped. They were often found in temples and monasteries because they support meditation.

In times of globalization, it is no longer unusual to bring distant Asia into your own European garden. Since the Zen garden does not require any demanding plants, it is ideal for this. A great advantage of this garden shape is that it is also suitable for the design of very small garden areas.

These elements characterize the Zen garden

In this case, Zen is actually an abbreviation for an expression that describes a dry landscape. It is quite good. Because in a traditional Zen garden you won't find water courses or ponds. In fact, plants are almost entirely absent. The garden is dominated by the element stone. From small grains of sand to heavy rocks, all stone shapes are possible.

❒ Sand or gravel is used to form the line we know from the mini zen garden for the home. They often meander in wavy lines or circle larger stones without beginning or end.

❒ These larger specimens should always face up and look as if they had got there naturally. An exactly geometrical arrangement contradicts the Zen idea.

❒ They often have a very dark, clearly perceptible color. Often, however, they are also overgrown with moss, strictly speaking the only permitted plant.

Meaningful down to the last detail

So that the garden can fully develop its calming abilities, every seemingly minor detail is given great importance.

❒ The green color of the moss stands for wisdom. But it should also help you to immerse yourself in meditation.

❒ The calculation lines represent the cycle and the infinite flow of water. In the apparently dry landscape, the life-giving water is also indirectly hidden.

❒ You should let your imagination run wild when arranging the individual elements. Because it should paint a picture that contains a weighty message.

Implement your own design ideas


In practice, the strict rules are broken down according to individual taste. You can decorate the garden with plants from Asia, for example Japanese maple or bamboo, as well as from Europe. Plants from barren landscape forms such as conifers or grasses are particularly good optically - as long as the climate allows it.

Stones, wood and water:

Of course, you can also deliberately put stones together to form a small wall or even an Asian moon gate. If you want to break with the pure stone landscape, you should not be deterred from creating a seating area with wooden planks or installing an idyllic stream.

Garden furniture:

So that you can enjoy the small garden paradise sufficiently, the right furniture should not be missing. On a massive stone bench, you can let the surroundings take effect in more remote corners of the garden. For a traditional tea ceremony, but also for a European coffee, a low seating group made of dark poly rattan, for example, fits perfectly into the overall picture. Modern designer furniture, such as that offered by this specialist retailer, is by no means a contradiction to the traditional Zen garden culture. With their puristic shapes, they only underline the clear lines once again.


A small Asian-style pavilion with its typically curved roof and red-painted wooden frame also complements the harmonious design. In addition, suitable decorative elements, which should not be distributed in large numbers, can give the finishing touch. For example:

  • small Buddha figures
  • Lantern string lights
  • Decoration in the form of Asian characters or yin and yang
  • Singing bowls