What Is a Zen Garden?
The concept of zen gardening originated in Eastern Asia where Buddhist monks needed a quiet place to meditate for hours on end without distraction. Zen gardens serve as a place of healing where you can calm both your body and your mind.
Whether you’re interested in zen landscaping for religious purposes or not, there’s no doubt that the features it incorporates are good for the soul. Upon entering a zen garden, you’ll instinctively relax, take deeper breaths, and forget about your work emails and notifications, if only for a few minutes. No wonder so many San Diego homeowners are interested in this landscape design option!
Planting a Zen Garden in San Diego
Here are some of the plants native to Southern California that best convey a zen garden feel:
- Japanese boxwood: These ornamental shrubs can be trimmed into zen-inspired shapes, such as squares, circles, and undulating waves. They grow well in San Diego’s dry climate and prefer areas in full sun.
- Pittosporum: This flowering plant with uniquely scented flowers makes the perfect border for your zen garden thanks to its beautiful, fast-growing foliage. Pittosporum thrives well in sun or shade.
- Indian hawthorn: These low-growing evergreen shrubs are native to Japan and other Asian countries, but they also grow well in Southern California. Their flowers vary in color from purple to pink to white.
- Japanese maples: To achieve the look of a bonsai tree in your zen garden, be sure to include at least one Japanese maple. Once established, these trees offer carefree, year-round beauty, thriving best in shady areas of your yard.
- Hydrangeas: The large bouquets of flowers that grow on these long-lived shrubs make them a gorgeous, colorful addition to your zen garden. Many varieties of hydrangea are native to eastern Asia, and they also grow well in shady areas of your San Diego property.
- Dwarf mondo grass: Moss is often associated with zen gardens, but don’t make the mistake of choosing this as your groundcover in our dry climate! Dwarf mondo grass is a much better suited to Southern California and provides a low-lying alternative to moss.
Other Features Used in Zen Landscaping
In addition to using Zen-inspired plants in your relaxing garden, you’ll also want to incorporate these other elements of Zen landscaping:
- Custom water features: Flowing water is thought to soothe the body and mind, both because of the calming sound it generates and its ability to purify the air around it by producing negative ions that attract dust and other pollutants. A water feature in your zen garden is also bound to attract small wildlife for your enjoyment.
- Koi ponds: There’s no more iconic feature in a zen garden than a koi pond. These Japanese carp are a symbol of majesty and power, and having a koi pond is thought to bring good fortune and prosperity to your home.
- Bamboo fencing: This traditional Eastern building material makes for the perfect privacy screen in your zen garden. You can also incorporate bamboo elements in a backyard water feature or another decorative area.
- Sculptures, sand and stone features: Your zen landscape is incomplete without tranquil elements like Buddha statues, Japanese rock gardens, and stepping stones surrounded by gravel and grass.