These meditation garden ideas show how easy it is to provide a soothing and peaceful setting in your backyard, to include a lovely place to unwind after the stresses of daily life.
We visited the Pasadena Botanic Gardens recently and their Japanese Garden area gave me many ideas for creating a backyard meditation space in my yard.
In fact, I have several areas in my back yard that I can use as a place to retreat and meditate.
May 3 is recognized as National Garden Meditation Day. With a bit on creativity, any gardener who loves to look within can easily create a backyard meditation setting.
We can’t all have the garden from the Pasadena Botanical Gardens, but there are ways we can incorporate the feel into our back yard meditation garden settings.
Small meditation garden ideas
Meditation is a key way to relax and harmonize the mind and body. It has been a spiritual practice of Eastern religious for thousands of years.
The practice of meditating is a proven way to clear your head, and get grounded in spite of our chaotic modern world. Creating a small backyard meditation garden will give you the setting to enjoy this practice at home.
When designing a meditation garden, think about the view that your area will have. A space that is slightly set apart from the rest of your yard will provide more sanctuary. This can be accomplished with plants, hardscaping, seating and structures.
Continue reading to learn how to make a meditation garden.
Features of a meditation garden – the five elements
Plants, water features, paths and rocky areas are all good choices to include in a meditation setting. Small walkways are always additions that put me in a peaceful mood and separate the meditation area from other parts of my yard.
Often, meditation gardens make use of statues to set the mood. Some use traditional meditating figures and others are more abstract. Sometimes, just a pile of rocks, often used in Japanese Zen gardens, are used for a more minimalist look.
Since one goal of mediation is to connect with nature, it helps to incorporate the five main elements in your garden: wood, earth, water, fire, and metal.
- earth – soil, flowers and rocks represent this element.
- wood – wooden benches give one a place to sit.
- metal – metal structures, statues or lanterns bring in this element.
- water – ponds with koi fish, or other water features work here.
- fire – a fire pit or candles placed on an altar bring fire to mind.
Let’s take a look at some of the key parts of any small backyard meditation and how they relate to the five elements in nature.
The element earth – Meditation garden plants
Using plants when meditating can enhance the experience and open up your mind and clear away negative energy. Flowering plants are also great at attracting pollinators which go a long way towards making you feel stress-free and peaceful.
The power of plants and nature has been proven to be a benefit to our mental, physical and spiritual beings. They also help to make us connect with nature in a tangible way.
A meditation garden often has Japanese styled plants in it. Bamboo is one that is often used but any plants that make you feel peaceful will work well.
Use some of these pollinator-attracting plants in your meditation garden design.
- Milkweed – Milkweeds attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. Their intoxicating scent, with its sweet and spicy overtones of honey, is sure to put you in a relaxed and peaceful mood.Consider creating a sanctuary for butterflies and bees through plant choices if you think that this will be beneficial to your meditation practice.
- Red beebalm – Hummingbirds love red flowers, such as red bee balm. It has leaves with a minty fragrance that will calm your mind and help with meditation. Beebalm is considered an antidepressant. Try meditating near beebalm to pull yourself out of a rut.
- Liatris – Also known as blazing star, this prairie native brings vertical interest to a garden. The tall purple spikes of liatris also draw bumblebees and butterflies. Find out how to grow liatris here.
- Coneflower varieties – Native Americans have been using varieties of coneflower in mindfulness for generations. There are so many colors available to grow.
- Japanese silver grass – Ornamental grasses are easy to grow and add a fabulous rustling sound on windy days to help you move into a trance-like state. Japanese silver grass is useful as a hedge to hide neighboring views and makes the perfect surround to any small meditation setting.
- Sunflowers – When meditating, it is useful to have a focal point to draw your attention and help you stay in a trace. Tall flowers, such as sunflowers create vertical interest at eye level.
Bonsai plants and good luck plants in meditation gardens
Many people grow bonsai trees to include in a meditation garden. The Japanese art form lends itself well to this type of garden setting.
Bonsai plants symbolize balance, harmony, order of thoughts and peace.
Bonsai is an art form that ties the connection of the tree with the human heart. Pruning a bonsai tree can be a form of meditation, itself, so it makes sense to include them in your meditation garden.
There are many indoor good luck plants that you bring outside to use in your meditation garden if it is a shady spot.
All forms of bamboo are useful in meditation gardens but lucky bamboo is an obvious choice. Find out how to grow lucky bamboo here.
One plant which is thought to increase feng shui is dracaena sanderiana.
The element wood – Meditation benches and seating
It is normal to sit when meditation. You can bring out cushions or a blanket for a place to sit, but why not incorporate meditation benches or other form of seating in your back yard meditation area?
If you are luck enough to have a small koi pond in your yard (water element), you can add some wooden benches and turn the area into a mini relaxation garden.
Sometimes a simple stone bench is all that is needed for tranquility. This plain bench at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Ashville seems to beckon me to sit and think for a while.
Does your yard have a wooden gazebo? Turn this peaceful structure into a place to meditate, contemplate and brush off the cares of the day.
This peaceful scene features a gazebo, small water area and landscaping around it which encourages meditation at any time of the day.
The element metal – Windchimes in a meditation garden
Some people like to meditate in silence, but I have always found that certain sounds are likely to make me relax and find peace.
Since wind chimes are often made of either wood or metal, they can incorporate either of the two elements.
There are so many styles to choose from, too.
These wooden bamboo wind chimes from Indonesia not only add a sound element but have an Eastern look to them that puts thoughts of meditation in the mind.
I enjoy meditating outdoors under the shade of a tree. It makes a great place to hang a metal wind chime. Strike it to start your meditation and be reminded of nature during your meditation practice on windy days, as well.
The element fire – Why are lanterns used in Japanese meditation gardens?
Many Japanese mediation gardens that I have visited use lanterns as decorations for the space.
Japanese stone lanterns were first used in ancient Shinto shrines where they served the purpose of votive lights. In the 16th century, stone lanterns were included in Buddhist tea gardens as a means to light the way.
In Japanese culture, lanterns represent love, brightness and protection from evil.
Also, when it comes to the five elements, fire represents motivation, drive, passion and desire.
To bring the element of fire into your mediation garden simply add lanterns, the colors orange or red, or some candles in hurricane vases.
Many Japanese meditations gardens include a stone lantern that is not lit but is purely symbolic .
Meditation garden statues, such as these lanterns, and water areas are both features of meditation gardens. This scene at the Pasadena Botanic Garden uses both beautifully.
Even the waterlilies in the pond add to the feel of this relaxation garden.
Using the element water in meditation gardens
In a meditation garden, the various design elements represent larger natural forces. For example, in a Japanese Zen garden, a boulder may represent a mountain and raked sand, the sea.
Water is often a central focus of any backyard meditative space and one of the five elements. It evokes a calm mood and adds a soothing sound.
You can add water features with a regenerating fountain, small waterfall or bubbling birdbath. The sounds also help to mask noisy distractions which can hamper the meditative practice.
The water feature need not be elaborate. Even a cement trough, with a small bamboo spout which has recirculating water will add the mood and sound.
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Why are altars used in meditation gardens?
Will you use meditation as a spiritual practice or as simply a place to relax? If your practice is meant to be the former, an altar might help you achieve the mindfulness that you are looking for.
Meditation altars don’t need to be elaborate. You can incorporate flat stones that you find on hikes, or small paving stones to build your altar by hand.
Many traditions say that your altar should face east for the rising sun, or north for your “true north.” Use your instincts to position your altar in any direction that feels right to you.
A stone altar can serve as a focal point for the setting and gives you a place to stop and gather your thoughts. It can also be used to collect objects that hold significance to you.
This small home garden has a simple wooden altar for meditating with a Buddha statue, a wooden bowl with a water feature and stacked rocks. The fountain adds and a sound element, too.
Something as simple as a stack of Zen stones will help you set a spiritual tone to your meditation space.
The simplicity of these stacked rocks in a meditation setting is often used to indicate balance.
Why do meditation garden use statues?
Many meditation garden ideas feature Japanese inspired structures such as statues of Buddha. These can be wooden, metal or stone.
Buddha has been a symbol for a selfless way of life for thousands of years. That garden Buddha statue in your meditation garden represents his history.
A stone Buddha statue makes a wonderful garden accent. Buddha sculptures are visual representations intended to remind the meditator of the various aspects of Buddha’s life and lessons.
Buddhism emphasizes qualities such as compassion, the desire to achieve better personal development, and taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Place these statues alone or near some meditation plants to put you in the mood for relaxing.
Meditation garden statues don’t need to be spiritual or to feature Buddha. This frog meditation statue in front of the wooden screen would bring a meditation feel to any modern garden in a more whimsical way.
Winding paths in mediation gardens
Encourage walking meditation by using winding paths in your garden. For many, walking provides the best means of meditation, since the body is occupied while the mind is free to think deeply.
In large yards, flagstone walkways allow you to walk mindfully to release the stresses of daily life. In smaller yards, simple wooden walkways have the same effect.
Include paths in your meditation garden design no matter the sizes.
Where can I purchase supplies for a mediation garden?
I have found stone benches and statues at many rock and stone supply stores.
The big box hardware stores are stocking Buddha statues and other statues for meditating.
Check specialty gift shops for various types of wind chimes. They are very popular right now.
Consignment stores and antique shops are a great place to find wooden benches or other seats suitable for meditating.
All the big department stores sell birdbaths, and fountains.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.
You can also find many choices online:
- Etsy has a huge range of meditation statues in stock.
- Amazon has many beautiful outdoor fountains for sale.
- Bob Vila is known for his home advice. His site has many wind chimes for sale.
- Check out meditation benches on Etsy.
- Add one of these stone lanterns from Amazon.
In backyards, a meditation space may be created for spiritual reasons or simply to add a spot for relaxation. Even if you have a very small yard, you can easily incorporate the five elements into any outdoor space.
Whatever your reason, I hope that these ideas have inspired you to create a mediation area for yourself, soon.
Pin this post for meditation garden ideas
Would you like a reminder of this ideas for creating a meditation garden? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
Admin note: this post for meditation garden ideas first appeared on the blog in August of 2013. I have updated the post to add new photos, more suggestions for creating a mediation garden, and a video for you to enjoy.
- Earth Element - plants and flowers - stacked stones
- Wood Element - benches or a gazebo and wooden winding paths
- Fire Element - candles or lanterns
- Metal Element - wind chimes, metal furniture, or metal statues
- Water element - Recirculating fountains, bubbling birdbaths, koi ponds
- Tape measure
- Water source
- Decide where to locate your meditation garden. A spot under the shade of a large tree will provide shade and give you a place to hang wind chimes.
- Measure the area to make sure all your chosen decor items will fit in it.
- Use plants as barriers to hide other parts of your yard. Plants in pots are easy to care for.
- Winding paths in the area encourage walking meditation.
- A focal point, such as an altar, encourages thoughtfulness.
- Decide whether you want an altar and position your seat or bench in sight of it, if you use one.
- Stacked stones can also provide a non religious focal point. A water feature, or fire pit also works for this.
- Decorate your mediation setting with statues, lanterns and other items that put you in a relaxed mood.
Cost of your meditation garden can vary, depending on the items you choose to add to it.
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