How to Make Your Own California Zen Garden – 7 Steps to Tranquility in Your Yard
With Kohei’s tips in mind, here are seven steps to follow when creating a Zen Garden in your backyard. We’ve also added our tips on where to splurge and where to save if you’re on a budget.
Decide on a Water Feature.
Splurge! This is the centerpiece of your design, so if you’re going to invest anywhere, make it your water feature! Keep Kohei’s advice in mind and choose something that will last in a dry Southern California climate. Hand-chiseled natural stone fountains are some of Kohei’s most talked-about garden elements. If you have a very large area to landscape, you might even consider a waterfall and/or pond.
Plan Your Design.
Draw out your plans for the garden. Now that you have chosen a water feature, you can plan other elements around it. Make sure to incorporate pathways to connect all your elements, and use spray paint to mark out where your boulders will be.
Prep Your Area.
Remove any debris or unwanted landscaping. Since your garden will be a work of art, you need to begin with a blank canvas!
Choose and Place Boulders.
Splurge and Save! You may want to choose at least one central boulder that you really love, and it may be worth spending a bit more on it. Other boulders can be smaller and more budget-friendly if you desire. Think of them as islands in your garden ocean, using both high and low-profile boulders in sets of 3 or 5. Placing boulders is the first step in your project. Make sure you are certain about where you want them to be – it’s a lot harder to move them later! Check out this blog post for more information on placing boulders.
Connect With Pathways.
Save! Use a crushed rock (commonly known as gravel) to cover walking paths and any larger areas. If desired, add stepping stones on top. Arrange the rock with a rake in areas not being walked on. This is your chance to create the ripple effect that evokes the feeling of an ocean.
Spice It Up With Stone Borders.
Splurge a little. It is a Japanese tradition to include stone borders, along the edge of the house or along pathways. You only need small amounts of accent material, so spend a little more here on a polished pebble or rounded cobble like Mexican Beach Pebble.
Pick Your Plants.
Save! Incorporating more decorative rock into your garden means you’ll need fewer plants to fill the area (and you’ll be saving yourself future maintenance!). Choose a few favorites to invest in, and refer to Kohei’s recommendations above to ensure your plants are able to thrive in a drier climate.