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Finding your Zen: The art of creating peace gardens
Beth Hyatt | September 21, 2017
zen peace garden

Photo: Pixabay

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life going on, isn’t it nice to have a place to go to for relaxation and decompression?

Many may not realize that Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace, and with this holiday in mind, consider talking to your customers about different ways they can truly be Zen by creating their own peace garden.

Peace gardens can come in a variety of looks and sizes, so individuality can always shine through when it comes to design elements. The main goal of a peace garden is to, you guessed it, enact peace and tranquility.

By giving your customers a place devoid of hectic distractions, it can help them focus their mind, body and spirit after a grueling day.

Peace gardens can not only help your customers out with emotional and mental peace; they can also offer a calming atmosphere for yoga or meditation, which researchers have proven can physically help relax and center the body.

At first your customers may think that creating an extra garden will require more bells and whistles, but this is simply not true. Peace gardens are very minimalistic in concept and design, and they tend to follow ideas of 20th century modernist architecture and the Zen gardens of Japan.

For customers who prefer restrictive planting, simple lines, order and low maintenance, a peace garden is right up their alley. These gardens are not restricted to people with extra yard space, either. Even if your customers live in a small home with minimal yard space or an apartment with only a rooftop area, there are still possibilities to create peaceful gardens. Take a look at a few common themes found in peace gardens. 

Noise suppression

An important aspect of a peace garden is the ability to drown out surrounding noises. Whether it’s a busy street outside your customer’s apartment or rambunctious neighborhood kids at play, a noisy environment can make it very difficult to relax.

Noise pollution is almost impossible to eradicate, but there are a few design strategies you can use to help quiet things down for your customer.

Tall barriers can help stop noises from creeping in where they aren’t wanted, as sound waves generally travel upwards when originating at ground level. A solid wall can go a long way toward moderating noises, and hard surfaces like stucco, stone or masonry will reflect sound waves and bounce them back in the direction of the source.

Adding in a variety of plants can also help dampen surrounding noise. Plants use their twigs, bark, branches and leaves to absorb, deflect, reflect and refract noise, and they add beautiful focal points to the garden.

Using desirable white noise can also prove beneficial when drowning out the harsh sounds of the city or suburbia.

Adding in extra layers of white noise, such as gentle fountains, other simple water features or wind chimes can provide soothing sounds to help muffle outside interruptions.

Plants

When there are fewer plants in the design, each plant needs to be carefully thought out and planned. Plants will serve as a focal point and sometimes as a visual partition in the garden, and restricting the range of the plants allows them to soften the design’s hardness while not detracting from the line and the structure.

Getting back to the topic of sound suppression for a moment, take time to research which plants will really help out with taking the volume down a notch.

Plants that are wide, dense and evergreen are the most effective for noise abatement year-round.

When it comes to maintaining the plants, it should be simple and shouldn’t take up a lot of time. Consider adding in water-retention granules to planting compost to minimize watering, and also talk to your customers about automatic irrigation systems on a timer. Using slow-release fertilizer pellets can turn the everyday job of feeding plants into an annual thing instead.

For customers who don’t have a lot of space to work with, raised beds can help add in plants as well as structures with height.

Adding in a few fragrant plants, like mint, lemon balm, chamomile and more can also help sooth the soul by way of olfactory senses. There are several types of mint flavors such as peppermint, apple mint, spearmint or pineapple mint, and they all will grow well almost anywhere as long as they receive a sufficient amount of water. Lemon balm is similar in appearance to mint, but it gets its name from the lemony scent it gives off. This herb is sometimes regarded as an excellent remedy for hyperactivity and restlessness, and it is said to help relieve tension headaches.

For more information on these herbs, click here.

Using space wisely

Believe it or not, space is one of the most important aspects of a peace garden. The open concept and balance between the zones of the garden is vital when working to create peace, serenity and oneness with the design.

If it’s not really in the cards for your customer to have walls around their peace garden, consider suggesting a sunken space for outdoor gatherings instead. When inversely creating height, a sunken area has the added benefit of a sound-deadening soil surround.

Berms and retaining walls can also help create a peaceful and intimate hideaway for customers wanting to add on to existing structures.

For more information on the benefits of berms and how to build them, click here.

For more information on the benefits of retaining walls and how to install them, click here.

Paving

When adding in different types of paving to the garden, keep the ideas simple and straightforward. Materials should be immaculate in finish. Pale sandstone and limestone are some of the favorites used by designers, and polished concrete can also fit in well with the peace garden motif. These silent sentinels can be quite versatile when it comes to landscape design and can be placed in a number of ways that are both practical and powerful.

Hardscaping must be kept in pristine condition, but other than that the rest of the garden should be as maintenance free as possible.

For more ideas on how to use stone work and masonry in the landscape, click here.

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