If you’re trying to live a more mindful life, the garden is your best friend in the summer months. Getting out in the fresh air can boost your energy levels, improve the quality of your sleep, and help reduce stress and depression according to Live Strong, making it the perfect cure for the daily grind.
And if you transform your outdoor space into a Zen den, you’ll be able to leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind and enjoy the calming effects of nature whenever the sun is shining. It’ll also look stunning in winter when it’s covered in frost, especially if you fill it with delicate evergreens.
So, with dreams of transforming our gardens and lives into calmer realities, Belle About Town consulted Nicky Roeber, the Online Horticultural Expert from Wyevale Garden Centres, to garner his top tips for transforming our outdoor space into a Zen retreat. Here’s what Nicky told us:
In this article, I will show you how Japanese gardening principles can help you create an outdoor retreat that helps you find a peaceful state right in your own home.
Less is more
In stark contrast to traditional British gardens, a Zen garden fully embraces “less is more”. If you want to transform your outdoor space into a calming retreat, it’s crucial you use this as your guiding principle.
When most people think “Japanese garden”, they picture meticulously raked sand, carefully stacked pebbles, and a scattering of ornaments and delicate flowers. However, you don’t have to replace your lawn with a Japanese rock garden to get the Zen effect in your own space. Instead, simply remember that less is more.
Start with the basics
The first place to start when transforming your garden into a peaceful haven is getting rid of all the rubbish that’s sure to have accumulated in your space over the years. As soon as you’ve decluttered things are sure to be looking a lot more calming.
Next, it’s time to make the most of what you’ve got. Clean your patio or decking and any outdoor furniture and containers in your garden to get them looking their best. Trim back overgrown plants, and pull up any weeds you can find along the way.
Think about size
After you’ve decluttered and cleaned your whole garden, it’s already going to be a lot more peaceful and conducive to mindfulness. Once you’ve done this, you need to think about how much of your outdoor space you want to dedicate to your Zen garden.
Fully embracing Japanese gardening and transforming your whole outdoor space or just creating a peaceful Zen corner can both work just as well. However, it’s important that you decide early one which one you’re going to go for.
If you’ve never designed a Zen garden before, it’s a good idea to start small. Once you’ve got a feel for the style, you can think about expanding it to your whole garden. If you’ve only got a yard to play with, don’t be deterred: Zen-inspired design is perfect for small spaces and urban gardens, as it can produce stunning results all year round and requires almost no upkeep.
Choose the right plants
Once you’ve cleaned and decluttered your garden and decided how much space you’re going to dedicate to your Zen den, it’s time to start thinking about plants.
If you’re looking to create a traditional Japanese look, you should stick to delicate and elegant plants like bamboos, ferns, and conifers. Avoid bright colours, focussing on shape, texture, and placement instead — for inspiration, check out the Zen plants collection on Pinterest.
Once you’ve chosen your favourite plants, it’s time to think about how to assemble them. Arranging them in plain containers on a patio or decking can make for a simple and elegant statement that’s in-keeping with the Zen principle of less is more. If you want to go for something a bit more ambitious, clear the space for a sand garden, which you can rake the recreate the look of flowing water like the Japanese monks who invented Zen gardening.
So, there you have it: everything you need to know to create your very own Zen garden. This is the perfect way to embrace Japanese culture in your home and create a mindful retreat you can always escape to, no matter how hectic life gets.