Have you ever been to a Zen garden? The Japanese rock gardens are intended to be a peaceful refuge and therefore are very streamlined with carefully arranged elements on a base of sand or gravel. Zen gardens tend to be small and are often surrounded by a wall with a place for visitors to sit and meditate.

Does a Zen garden sound ideal to you? They are easy to create. First, you need a location. Keep in mind that Zen gardens are intended to be peaceful, so look for a spot in your yard away from play areas for the kids and pets. Think about the plants you hope to incorporate into your design and make sure you choose a site with the right conditions.

Sand or gravel will serve as the base for your Zen garden, and you will need a form to contain it. Lumber, railroad ties and stone are some options for creating a form. Once you have built and installed the form, you will need to put down some black landscaping fabric to prevent weeds and apply a thick layer of sand or gravel on top of it.

Now comes the fun part—the actual design. Zen gardens should be interesting but minimalist. Look for natural elements, like mossy logs, bushes, trees and rocks, to incorporate into the design and consider adding a water feature for a more soothing appeal. Install some lighting for evening visits and rake the sand or gravel in ripples to create the look of water.

As with your home, be prepared for your Zen garden to evolve over time. Feel free to add or remove elements as you see fit. Just make sure you keep the garden clean and clutter free. Remember, the point of a Zen garden is to relax. The more tasks and things around you, the less likely you are to relax.

Unlike traditional gardens, Zen gardens require very little upkeep other than occasional weeding. Weed yours as necessary and enjoy having your very own Japanese rock garden to meditate in. And, should you live in an urban area and have no space for a Zen garden, do not despair. You can create one in a container. Desktop Zen gardens are all the rage. One look online will uncover dozens of design plans.

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