Ahhh Zen… the state of calmness, oneness, peace. Unfortunately amidst a global pandemic a state of Zen has not been easy to come by. With the Office For National Statistics reporting an increase in high levels of anxiety across the UK. Many have taken to their gardens to find solace during lockdown and the benefits to physical and mental wellbeing have been widely recognised. Zen Gardens emphasise the principles of naturalness & simplicity and have for centuries offered an iconic place of calm. Once used by buddhist monks to aid and teach meditation. With just a few key elements, any sized area can be turned into a haven of tranquility following our helpful How To Create A Zen Garden guide.
Planning & Foundations
Pick a flat area in the garden where you would like to sit and relax in. If you plan to use plants in your design then factor in their sunlight requirements. The size of the garden is completely up to your own preference and the space available. As a guide, factor in what key elements you would like to include from below and ensure the space can accommodate them.
Traditional Zen Gardens are surrounded by walls to create privacy but wooden lattice fences or hedges would also work well. For a more subtle nod to tradition, decking rope could be added to create the illusion of privatising a space.
Once you have chosen and marked out a space:
1. Clear the area, taking a few inches from the top of the soil.
2. Place wall /hedges/ fencing around the outside of the garden.
3. Use a garden edging such as Portland Stone Edging around the edge of the area to contain the gravel.
Carefully raked gravel with precisely placed rocks make up the main part of a Zen Garden. Once the foundations are laid, it is time to choose and lay out the gravel. The gravel can be raked into round, spiral or rippled patterns that represent bodies of water. Many find the sound of raking gravel to be very soothing and the act of maintaining and creating patterns can lend to a meditative state.
Glacial Gravel can add vibrancy and interest to an area, boasting a spectrum of colours and stones. If meticulously raking the garden is not for you, a low maintenance option could be Welsh Slate Chippings which offer great coverage and a contemporary finish. The grey tones also lend well to the Zen principles – natural and simplistic.
Rocks, stones & boulders
Zen Gardens are also known as Japanese rock gardens, this is because the rocks are seen as the most important part of the garden. Often symbolising nature such as mountains, coast and animals. Rocks and monoliths should be carefully selected and precisely placed. The placement is of utmost importance and they are rarely seen placed in straight lines.
The most common way to display them is by grouping them into threes known as triads. With one central vertical stone representing Buddha and the two smaller boulders either side – his attendants. In later times, boulders were used as ‘nameless’ rocks placed in a seemingly random fashion to promote spontaneity.
Natural Stone Monoliths and Boulders add a real focal point to this simplistic design with large monoliths working well as stand alone pieces or smaller ones used to create a harmonious display. Try surrounding them with smaller boulders such as a Welsh Slate Reservoir Surround or subtly introduce the element of water with a Boulder Water Feature.
Slate Monolith SM40
Slate Monolith SM40 is full of amazing colours and stripes across the face and will make a stunning garden ornament. At 780mm tall this standing stone is a large feature piece that will catch the eye in it’s forever garden. It lights up wonderfully when the water flows across the faces and can be further enhanced with evening lighting.
Stone Monolith SM94
Portland Stone Monolith SM94 is a superb natural stone garden ornament full of rustic lines and rugged ambience. This is a stand alone monolith, perfect for adding cool texture and tones to a border, rockery or feature area of a garden.
LED Lighting & Portland Stone Rockery Pieces available in the Basket.
Slate Monolith SM117
Slate Monolith SM117 is a stunning garden water feature stone with real width and mountain looks. Monoliths are normally tall, slender and tower looking, however this garden stone is quite the opposite. This feature will add an instant aged look to a garden, rather than waiting for nature take its course. Weathered obelisk stones like this are in high demand and increasingly difficult to source. Standing approx 700mm tall, the subtle textures of real Welsh Slate are magnified on this beautiful large garden ornament.
Dimensions to be confirmed ASAP.
Slate Monolith SM93
Slate Monolith SM103
Slate Monolith SM103 is crammed full of character and ruggedness, making it a wonderful standing stone for a discerning garden design or landscaping project.
This piece can not be drilled as a water feature.
LED Lighting and Slate Chippings available in the Basket.
Stone Monolith SM115
Portland Stone Monolith SM115 is a superb natural stone garden ornament full of rough lines and ruggedness. This is a stand alone monolith, perfect for adding texture and cool tones to a border, rockery or feature area of a garden. Portland Stone suits both rustic Cotswolds style gardens as well as clean modern designs, due to it’s fresh light tones.
LED Lighting & Portland Stone Rockery Pieces available in the Basket.
Quartz Boulder QB1
Quartz Boulder QB11
Quartz Boulder QB11 is a cream glacial stone with random splashes of white, core drilled as a truly unique water feature. This landscaping rock looks very modern and contemporary, lighting up when the water hits it and will add beautiful organic textures to any garden design.
Slate Chippings and Small Reservoir Pack available in the Basket.
Granite Boulder GB1
Granite Boulder GB1 is a lovely rounded, natural coloured boulder which transforms in colour between wet and dry. Can be placed as a feature stone or core drilled as a water feature. This piece is a perfect feature stone for a compact garden design.
Stone Boulder SB11
Stone Boulder SB11 is a Portland Stone boulder core drilled and chiseled to replicate a waterfall. This starting out as a square block and after carefully chiselling down to create a cascading face, the water flows down perfectly. The creamy Cotswolds tones combine with the water flow to add a bit of peace and tranquility to any garden design.
Reservoir pack and slate chippings available in the basket.
Slate Boulder SB3
Slate Boulder SB3 is a quirky green volcanic looking boulder, bursting with deep green shades and stripes, a perfect accessory for a small modern garden design. The gallery images show the slate both wet and dry, please note the stripes and shades of green are highlighted when wet.
Slate Chippings and Small Reservoir Pack available in the Basket
Benches, Bridges & Stepping Stones
Benches offer a place to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility of your Zen Garden. Intricate wooden benches could be used to add warmth or a statement. Alternatively, simple stone benches in Welsh Slate grey or Portland Stone cream hues can offer a more subtle touch, blending into the rest of the garden for a contemporary look.
Bridges or ‘Hashi’ are used to symbolise the journey we take between the planes of existence and our unity with nature. They offer a position in which to stand and ponder, to appreciate the garden and be thankful. Bridges are often placed over a body of water but they can also be placed over the gravel if this is not an option. Providing a focal point and deisgnated spot for contemplation.
Lastly, stepping stones, or ‘tobi-ishi’ which literally translates to ‘flying stones’ in japanese and are a common feature in Zen Garden Designs. They are a way of engaging a more mindful experience. After all, it takes much more care and attention to walk or jumps the stones than it does to walk a flat paved area. Slate Stepping Stones offer a natural and simplistic look and feel, with each face boasting a unique detailing. Alternatives to natural stone could be treated log stepping stones or railway sleepers to create a pathway through the garden.
Traditionally, Zen Gardens are dry landscapes with the water element symbolised in wave like shapes made in the gravel. However water features can and have been added to create a focal point to aid meditation & relaxation. In Japan, water symbolises renewal, calm & wonder. The sound and visual effects of flowing water can be highly meditative. By engaging the senses water can help bring us to focus and ‘be’ in the present moment.
Limited / No Outdoor Space?
If you are limited on space or do not have access to outdoor space, there are still ways to create your own little piece of Zen. Whether its your balcony, terrace or your window sill, by using a container you can create a mini, portable Zen Garden. With many working from home, a desk top Zen Garden can help to relieve stress and regain focus & mental clarity.
1. Find and fill a shallow container with gravel, if you would like to add in live plants, opt for air plants which can survive without the need for soil. For a larger, deeper container add soil and small succulents, then place a layer of gravel on top.
2. Select shells, stones or monoliths that draw you in and place on top of the gravel.
2.Use a mini wooden rake to create tranquil patterns.
3.Try adding tea lights which offer a warm glow and a focal point to aid meditation.
Buy Standing Stones
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Slate Monolith SM110
Slate Monolith SM110 is an absolutely huge towering piece with a natural, rustic face. This feature will add an instant aged look to a garden, rather than waiting for nature take its course. At just over 1.6m tall, the subtle textures of real Welsh Slate are magnified on this beautiful large standing stone, with every side covered in unique natural stone textures.
Slate Monolith SM126
XL Stepping Stones XLS02
Granite Boulder GB7
Granite Boulder GB7 is a large feature piece that would make a real statement in a Garden Design. The colours and texture of this stone are light and earthy, with rings running around the stone at varying heights. The side surface varies in texture where natural weathering has taken place over time, giving this boulder a cool, contemporary yet aged feel.
Granite Boulder GB4
Granite Boulder GB4 is a lovely natural coloured boulder which transforms in colour between wet and dry. Can be placed as a feature stone or core drilled as a water feature. This piece is a perfect feature stone for a compact garden design. Mixture of split face with round smooth edges.