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How to create a small zen garden

A minimalist and stylish Japanese garden can be a relaxing option for a small outdoor space, with the advantage that it doesn't require quite so much maintenance as all those flowers and shrubs. Knowing how to create a small zen garden is as much about art as it is about gardening.

Zen and the art of arrangement

The key to knowing how to create a small zen garden is a sense of balance. To achieve the desired elegance and tranquility, the garden must be attuned to its space and light.

The smallest garden can accommodate a zen space. Indeed some people even create zen gardens on a desktop. The important thing is to ensure the space isn't cluttered or unbalanced.

The base for many zen gardens is sand, formed into n using wooden moulds or raked into stylish ripples. In an exposed garden this will obviously be problematic, so choose a protected space.

Arrangements of rocks and stones are the most common decoration in zen gardens. Larger rocks should emerge from the sand rather than perch on the surface. Small arrangements of delicate polished pebbles can be very effective.

Be sparing with the use of zen features. Small lamps and statues can be stylish but overuse can make the space begin to resemble a garden centre display area.

Use of plants is again an exercise in balance. Read a little about the notion of yin and yang energies to get an idea of how to arrange and chose plants. Dark green plants represent yin while brighter yellow foliage provides the balancing yang.

Oriental elegance

You don't have to be an expert in Asian philosophy and aesthetics to grasp how to create a small zen garden, but a little understanding of the artistic concepts can produce elegant results. Study pictures of zen gardens and incorporate the elements that will be most appropriate for your space.

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