40 Japanese Rock Garden Ideas That Will Bring Zen to Your Outdoor Spaces

The Japanese rock garden or “dry landscape” garden, often called a zen garden, creates a miniature stylized landscape through carefully composed arrangements of rocks, water features, moss, pruned trees and bushes, and uses gravel or sand that is raked to represent ripples in water.

A zen garden is usually relatively small, surrounded by a wall, and is usually meant to be seen while seated from a single viewpoint outside the garden, such as the porch of the hojo, the residence of the chief monk of the temple or monastery.

Classical zen gardens were created at temples of Zen Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan during the Muromachi Period.

They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life.

A Zen garden is an interesting and deeply spiritual aspect of Japanese gardening traditions. The typical Zen garden consists of an enclosed and shallow sand box of sorts which features predominantly sand or gravel with rocks of various shapes and sizes.

The rocks and sand (or gravel) are the chief elements of the garden, which generally creates the scene of islands in the sea.

One of the primary differences between a Zen garden and most other varieties is the lack of living elements. Although grass may sometimes be included, no other plant or flower species will be found in a classic Zen garden.

This can be both unusual and exotically appealing to people with no past experience with the history and meaning of a Zen garden.

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