How to create a pebble Zen garden

Written by heather lacey | 13/05/2017
How to create a pebble Zen garden
Zen gardens use stone and sand to symbolise earth elements. (Getty Creative)

Japanese Zen gardens are a spiritual form of art. These gardens were originally created as a way to help Buddhist monks achieve enlightenment through meditation inspired by the garden's arrangement. Traditional Zen gardens are constructed from sand and stones, with sand symbolising water and stones symbolising wood, fire, earth, metal or water. A Zen garden can be a tranquil addition to your backyard. While some of the materials used in today's Western Zen gardens differ from those in ancient Japan, you can still find peace and serenity.

Choose a location for your Zen garden. This can be a corner of your yard or a small section of your patio.

Lay the black plastic on the ground over your proposed garden space. Use scissors to create contours or curves in the liner's shape.

Outline the black plastic with medium stones to create a border for your garden that differentiates it from the rest of the yard. Place the stones close together so that they will be able to hold in the pebbles once they are added.

Place large stones on the plastic liner. Spread them out to simulate the placement of trees or islands. If desired, drape moss over some of the stones to add colour.

Pour white pebbles into the Zen garden. Rake the pebbles to spread them out so that the entire liner sheet is covered. Use enough pebbles that the garden is at least two inches deep.

Use a rake or stick to create decorative lines in the garden. For example, you can draw a circle around the large rocks to symbolise water rippling against the shore.


The plastic liner will prevent grass or weeds from growing through the pebbles. Use the time spent in your Zen garden as an opportunity to meditate. Use wood to create bridges or pathways. Wood can also be used to define the garden's border. Plants and water are not traditionally used in Zen gardens.

Things you need

  • Black plastic liner
  • Scissors
  • Medium stones
  • White pebbles
  • Assorted large stones
  • Moss (optional)
  • Rake

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