Key Features of a Japanese-Style Zen Garden
Zen gardens are a great way of creating a space to relieve stress and of improving your mental health and wellbeing. Compass Garden and Landscape Design specialise in garden transformations in Bath, Bradford on Avon and across the South-West of England. Here we outline some of the key features of the Oriental style which is proving increasingly popular across the UK.
Rocks and Stones
Zen gardens are also known Japanese rock gardens so large stones and other hard landscaping features are an essential ingredient in creating the right look. Rocks are classified as tall vertical, low vertical, arching, reclining or flat. Upright or vertical stones represent trees, while flat, horizontal stones represent water and arching stones represent fire.
Rocks, decorative stones and gravel can also be used as a substitute for a water feature if you don’t have the budget or the space for a fountain or waterfall. The stones are rarely placed in straight lines or symmetrical formations so landscape designers go for an odd number wherever possible.
Keep Plants Simple
Unlike most English gardens, colour isn’t a top priority when creating a Zen garden. In fact, pure examples of the type are completely devoid of plants. If you prefer to have some natural species then wisteria, irises, peonies and hydrangeas will provide enough variety if used in moderation. If you have the room, flowering cherries, maples and magnolia trees will provide fragrance and shade as well as enough colour.
As with your rocks, plants should be placed in unusual, irregular ways as one of the key themes of any Japanese garden is that it should imitate nature as much as possible. This means avoiding any rigidly shaped flower beds and planting flowers in straight lines.
At Compass Garden and Landscape Design, we offer an expert planting consultancy service which is available in Bristol, Bath and throughout Somerset and Wiltshire. We can source the most appropriate species for your outdoor space, taking into account factors such as your soil, climate and the amount of sunshine and shade your garden gets. Our extensive network of contacts in the industry means we can acquire these plants at highly competitive prices.
Water is another key component of any Zen garden. The soothing sound of running water allows the gardens’ owner, or any visitors, to relax and escape the stresses and strains of everyday life. To really capture the essence of the idea, it’s essential that the water is in motion rather than still.
So any pond should have an integral fountain, or be attached to a wall or in the centre of a circle. If you can add carp to your water feature, then this will enhance the sense of life and movement which is such an important part of Japanese culture.
Don’t Forget the Wind
Although you can’t see it, wind is another integral part of any Zen garden. So make sure you can recognise its effects by incorporating wind chimes, a bird sculpture or anything that moves as the breeze hits it.
A Focal Point to Enjoy It
This harks back to the original Zen gardens, which were created as part of a Buddhist temple. The garden was always intended to be seen from a specific viewpoint, such as a porch, by the chief monk of the temple or monastery. In modern times, this can take the form of a garden room or any simple structure with beams and a roof. This will allow you to appreciate your Oriental garden in all its simple beauty or allow you to meditate and relax – another key component of the Buddhist culture.
Sometimes the building can take the form of a teahouse, which allows the owner and their guests to enjoy a cuppa. It will also protect those inside from the heat of the day or a sudden downpour.
Garden Transformations in Bath from Compass Garden and Landscape Design
If you would like to transform part or all of your outdoor space into a Japanese Zen garden, then contact Compass Garden and Landscape Design. After an initial meeting we will supply some concept sketches which we will discuss with you. We then create a full garden design, with 3D images if required, and can then put you in touch with some tried and trusted local contractors to carry out the work.
You can reach us on or by clicking on this link and completing the online form. You can also call us on 07920 051549.