Zen Garden Ideas on A Budget with Video

Creating a zen garden in your yard is not a difficult or expensive task. A zen garden evokes a sense of peace and tranquility. To create a Zen Garden you don’t need advanced knowledge in carpentry or expensive tools, most of the tools you probably already have at home. In this article, I will give you Zen Garden Ideas on A Budget.

This type of garden is inspired by Buddhism and is very popular in Japan and other parts of the world. Creating a Zen Garden on a small budget is not difficult at all since many of the elements used are very inexpensive and easy to obtain, such as rock and bamboo. Continue reading for Zen Garden Ideas on A Budget.

What Is a Zen Garden?

A zen garden is a type of traditional Japanese garden based on the principles and aesthetics of Zen Buddhism. Zen gardens usually have a minimalist design and are characterized by the use of elements from nature, such as gravel, sand, rocks, and plants, and by the presence of raked patterns and small details that invite reflection and meditation.

Zen gardens seek to create a calm and serene space that favors the practice of meditation and the cultivation of mindfulness.

What Are the Eight Elements of Zen Gardens?

  1. Sand or gravel: Zen gardens often feature raked patterns in the sand or gravel that create a sense of movement and flow.
  2. Rocks: Large rocks are often placed in strategic locations in Zen gardens to create a sense of balance and stability.
  3. Trees and shrubs: Zen gardens may include a variety of trees and shrubs, such as pine trees, maple trees, and azaleas, which add visual interest. The trees and shrubs of a Zen Garden are often pruned and shaped to create a sense of balance and harmony.
  4. Water: Water is often included in Japanese gardens in the form of a pond, stream, or fountain. The sound of running water can be calming, and the reflections created by the water can add a sense of depth and movement to the garden.
  5. Bridges: Bridges are often included in Zen gardens as a way to symbolize the journey through life.
  6. Lanterns: Stone lanterns are often placed in Zen gardens to provide light and create a sense of mystery.
  7. Statues and Statuettes: Zen gardens may include statues of Buddha or other religious figures as a way to promote spiritual contemplation.
  8. Pavilions: Pavilions or other types of shelter can be included in a Zen garden as a place for relaxation and contemplation.

The idea of bringing these elements into a Zen Garden is to promote a sense of peace, tranquility, and balance.

elements of zen garden

How to Create a Zen Garden On A  Budget

As you can see some elements may be expensive or kind of. And some of the elements such as statues, bridges, and pavilions may be limited by space, budget, or even religious leanings. That’s why in this article we guide you through different ideas to create Zen Gardens on a budget. We have a few tips you can use to replace expensive materials with affordable ones and some interesting ideas to give the touch Zen gardens need.

If you are trying to create a small space Zen in your backyard it may not be needed to include every single of these eight elements. Overall, the elements of a Zen garden are chosen and arranged in a way that the space of contemplation and meditation promotes a sense of peace and balance.

Best Zen Garden Ideas on A Budget

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, creating a Zen Garden does not have to be expensive. Many tools already exist in the home because they are used for other activities. But if you don’t have any of the tools needed to create a Zen Garden you can ask a friend or neighbor to lend you a tool to build it.

best zen garden ideas on a budget

Gravel, Sand, and Stones Ideas to Keep It on A Budget

Sand and river stones are essential in any Zen Garden. You can get the sand in a nearby river or buy it in a construction store. Stones can be found in a river, stream, or lake near your home or river stones can be purchased in nurseries and construction stores.

With sand and river stones you can create patterns of different shapes to create your Zen Garden. Rakes can be used to create the raked patterns characteristic of a Zen Garden with sand.

Creating a False Stone Concrete Path

Rocks and paths can be self-made fake concrete paths. It is very easy and inexpensive.

To create a false stone concrete path, you will need concrete and molds with some oil on the surface. It’s easy and absolutely inexpensive.

First, you mix up a batch of concrete. You can use ready-mix concrete or mix your own using cement, sand, and water. You will need a container to mix the concrete in, such as a wheelbarrow or a large plastic tub, and water to mix with the concrete. A shovel or hoe may be needed to mix the concrete, depending on the amount of concrete you will prepare.

Then, to create the stone shapes you will need to use “molds”. Although there are concrete molds on the market, to keep the Zen garden ideas on a budget, we suggest using molds, such as silicone cake molds, plastic storage containers, or even good-resistant plastic bags. Bags are great because you can easily create shapes and sizes. I would suggest using different mold types, sizes, and shapes, to create diverse rocks, which will look more natural.

Remember to add vegetable oil or cooking spray to your molds. It will help you to easily remove the stones from the molds. If you use bags it’s not needed, and the smooth termination of the fake concrete rocks is great.

Fill the molds with the concrete and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the concrete mix to determine how long it needs to be set. This will typically be at least overnight but maybe a few days. Once the concrete has been set, carefully remove the stones from the molds.

Finally, arrange the stones in a pattern to create the false stone path for your Zen Garden, using a trowel to level them and fill in any gaps with sand or gravel. Once the stones are in place, you can add a finishing touch, such as edging the path with bricks or adding plants or other decorative elements.

creating a false stone concrete path

Trees and Shrubs for a Zen Garden on a Budget

Trees and shrubs are used in Japanese gardens to add visual interest and provide shade. If you only dedicate a small space for a Zen Garden, choosing a tree may not be a good idea unless you are considering bonsai trees.

Another advantage of adding bonsai trees to the decoration is the activity of pruning them. A Zen activity we recommend in your garden is to trim and prune your Zen Bonsai Tress to create a sense of balance and harmony.

The important thing when creating a Zen Garden is to choose trees and shrubs that will thrive in the climate. So, check the number of sunshine hours, heat intensity, etc. to choose appropriate plants for this Zen corner of your home.

Cypress trees, Ficus Bonsai, Maple trees, Japanese Azalea, etc. are affordable and visually attractive options for a radiant Zen Garden on a Budget.

You may be interested in aligning your Zen garden with the Feng Shui culture. If so, one of the things I would like to add at this point is that you should remove from your garden any plants that are dry, decaying, or dead, and you should never include fake plastic plants. If you want to learn more about Feng Shui Plant Placement we recommend you to read our post about How Feng Shui Plants Can Boost Good Energy.

trees and shrubs for a zen garden on a budget

Bamboo and Water Ideas for a Zen Garden on A Budget

What is a good idea to create a Zen Garden on A Budget? Let’s see how you can save money and creates a peaceful and beautiful Zen Japanese garden at home.

Bamboo stakes can be used to support plants and decorate the zen garden. Bamboo fences or other inexpensive materials can be used to create borders or enclosures for the garden.

Water is important in a Zen Garden. It could be a pond created with the concrete we explained in previous paragraphs or a water pound created with old pots and containers. Reusing old pots or containers can help create water features or planters in the garden without the need to purchase new materials.

On the other hand, to attract wealth to your life is better if the water is running as a stream or in a fountain. It won’t need to be expensive. There are solar-powered water fountain pumps for less than $15-20. The sound of moving water creates a very relaxing feeling suitable for a Zen garden.

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  • SPRAYER FOR DIFFERENT WATER STYLE: The package comes with 4 nozzles, which allows you to choose different water fountain patterns easily, adding much fun into your garden.

More Zen Garden Ideas VIDEO

Let’s see a few more Zen Garden Ideas on a budget with this video we prepare for you.

Simple geometric shapes can be used in garden design to create a minimalist, zen aesthetic.

Choosing low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow and require minimal care can help reduce the cost and maintenance of the garden. Succulents such as Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) very common in Japanese gardens and other low-watering plants are good choices for a zen garden on a budget.

If you have limited space for a Zen garden at home, you can still create a small, peaceful oasis by using the following tips.

Look for a small, secluded spot in your yard or home where you can create your Zen garden. This might be a corner of your patio, a section of your garden, or even a window box.

If you don’t have much space for a traditional Zen garden, consider creating a mini-garden in a container. This could be a shallow tray, a large pot, or even a bonsai dish.

Select a few key elements for your Zen garden, such as sand, rocks, and a few plants. Be sure to choose plants that are suitable for the size of your container and the amount of light it receives.

Focus on simplicity. Zen gardens are all about simplicity and minimalism. Don’t try to cram too many elements into your small space. Instead, focus on creating a simple, serene environment that promotes relaxation and contemplation.

Zen gardens often use a limited color palette, with shades of green, grey, and white predominating. Use colorful plants sparingly to add pops of interest without overwhelming the space.

Consider adding lighting to your Zen gardens, such as small lanterns or twinkling fairy lights. Lighting should provide calm when meditating.

Overall, the key to creating a Zen garden at home even if it is in a small space is to focus on simplicity and balance and to choose elements that work well together to create a peaceful, relaxing environment. We hope to like our article about Zen Garden Ideas on a Budget to create your own wonderful Zen spot.

About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.