Built long ago to help Zen Monks reach a state of enlightenment, rock gardens were created by the careful placement of natural elements such as sand and stones to represent mountains and water. These elements are said to allow a person to achieve a deeper state of meditation in order to forget about life’s stress and strains.
Traditional Japanese gardens use all natural materials and have an emphasis on harmony and relaxation. Zen gardens often incorporate straight lines, swirls, stones, wood, and other non-living components to help in meditation. The gardens can also incorporate water if a water fountain or pond is desired.
The underlying philosophy of Japanese gardens is a combination of Shintoism and Buddhism which reveres life and explores the laws of nature.
Getting started is as simple as pouring gravel over the garden area and large stones are added. The gardener, using a rake, maps out designs in the gravel first by raking back and forth along the length of the garden and then by producing swirls that dance around the stones and around each other. The stones are meant to represent mountains and the swirls are meant to represent water. Any kind and color of stones and gravel can be used, but the stones are usually dark and the gravel usually white.
You can choose stones of different colors or the same color. Choose as many stones as you like but remember not to choose too many. The amount is up to you. Lay the stones where you want in the garden and rake patterns around them. You can change the pattern as often as you like.
For a small rock garden, you should map out the area and purchase the stones first. You will not need very large rocks for the Zen garden if it is going to be small. Use bricks, stones or metal flower bed border to edge your garden. Fill the garden with sand, pebbles or gravel.
Other ideas for your rock garden might be to create patterns in the stones using different colored rocks. For example, you might create Chinese or Japanese characters out of black rock in a white rock bed. You could create diminishing rings of pebbles around your larger stones or rings of colored stones that fade gradually to the color of the gravel. The possibilities are endless.
And finally to pull it all together, consider lining the outer perimeter with different hearty grasses and low ground covering succulents. The Yin and the Yang will be no further than you back door!
-Some content contributions for this article came from the Yahoo’s Community Network- Amber S.