Zen---the power to still the mind---is brought to a physical reality in a Zen garden. Through a combination of natural stone, trickling water or elegant paths, this ancient garden form is a principle in spiritual awakening. Zen gardens are centuries-old philosophies with very set traits that make them identifiable from an ordinary yard or patio garden.
Dry Rock Garden
Sand and rock create the illusion of the peace and tranquility of water flowing around earth in a dry rock garden. This is the most popular form of Zen Garden, also called karesansui. There is more to the peacefulness of a dry rock garden than its appearance. The care and grooming of the rock gravel into a river flow pattern is a ritual to promote peace in the inner being.
A variation of the Zen garden is the water garden usually centered around a waterfall. In a dry garden, the waterfalls are symbolized by draped and staggered rocks, but in a wet garden it actually exists. The relaxation of running water is a focal element in a Zen garden. Water gardens developed as a secondary Zen-type garden are usually created as a backdrop for the dry garden.
The water basin is a common element in Zen gardens because of the ritualistic cleansing. Buddhism and Shinto Zen gardens have ornate water basins to cleanse any who enter the temple. Basins are usually crafted from bronze or stone. Each basin should have a dipper so the visitor can dribble water over his hands and mouth.
Zen gardens have a very unique look and it is easy to think the power is in the surroundings. The peace, however, comes from the silence and contemplation of the garden.
Rock or stone paths run through lush, green water gardens. This type of Zen garden is often called a strolling garden and the time spent walking along the paths should be in a Zen-like peaceful contemplation.
Minimalistic Zen gardens operate under the influence of surrounding scenery. It is a principle called "borrowed scenery" where a magnificent mountain backdrop, a waterfall, or a lush green field becomes a part of the view from the dry garden.