A DIY Guide To Creating A Buddha Zen Garden

I’ve always wanted to have an outdoor space that looks green, serene and makes me feel zen. I’ve admired the tons of pictures of a Buddha-themed garden on my phone for ages now.

I took my time seeing, observing, reading, creating a plan and  picking the right stuff that finally brought my dream garden to fruition. There’s a method to creating these gardens, so I needed to know what I’m doing if I am to achieve the desired result. I had some challenges too – I had to create this on our rooftop versus in our lawn so this meant that it would have to be a container garden. And I also had to figure out a way to conceal the big ugly pots. 

I did my homework and after 6 months of prep, I finally put it together. But let me help shorten the process for you, here are some top design tips.

A Garden For All To Enjoy

Say No To Plastic

It’s hard because fancy ceramic pots can cost a bomb and blow your budget. But there are options if you too need to create this zen space with potted plants – go for terracotta, they’re unglazed and come cheaper. 

Pro Tip : Or conceal the ugly pots smartly with bushy plants and accessories like I did. Check how I used pieces of tree bark to hide plastic pots. I didn’t want huge ceramic planters to be the focal point anyway. Plastic and zen don’t mix. We know that. 

Pick A Quiet Corner 

The best Buddha gardens are calm, quiet, serene and integrate with their natural surroundings. So find a quiet corner away from foot traffic, noisy neighbours and vehicular traffic. This will also allow you the luxury of seclusion and privacy. It will also serve as a great backdrop to meditate and practice Yoga. The bird songs and wind chimes should be the only sounds you hear. I’ve also been meaning to install a vertical garden that will double up as a privacy fence to keep off the nosy peeping toms. 

Pro Tip : While I was reading about placements, I also came across recommendations from Feng Shui and Vaastu experts that for generating positive energy,  a Buddha needs to face the home and not outward towards the street. 

Choose The Right Buddha For You

After all, it is a zen garden. We debated whether we should get a Ganapathi or a Buddha. It’s your personal choice really. We decided to go with a Buddha. I saw a variety of statutes in different postures, materials, sizes and finishes. While my husband insisted it needed to be tiny – I was quite sure I wanted at least a 3 foot big statue. I then had to decide between sitting, lying down and standing postures. The challenge with a seated Buddha is that one then needs a high enough pedestal to place the statue and it doesn’t look great when placed directly on the floor. And since we have three dogs, we didn’t want to them to sniff around a lying down Buddha. That would be rude. So, standing it was. Then I looked up all the meanings of different hand Mudras (signs). Just for the fun of it. There are a lot of them and each has a beautiful meaning and significance. Learn about the one you decide to go with because it will give it an added identity and purpose. 

Pro Tip: The Buddhas imported from Bali are the most beautiful in my opinion. They have great detailing and I love the ones made of Lava stone and also available in distressed finishes in natural stone, black, brown, green and pink. Make sure to shop during a sale at a store and please don’t shop for your statue online because what you see and what you get can be worlds apart.  

The Teaching Pose / Hand Mudra

Place An Assortment Of Accessories 

In order to create a zen mood, position a range of accessories in prominent places around the Buddha. Consider picking up a stone Urli (bowl) filled with water, aquatic plants and petals floating, incorporate a tiny hand carved stone bird bath, stacked up meditative pebbles, decorative planters made out of a tree trunk or branch, for added beauty, you could add lilting bamboo wind chimes, a tiny Koi fish pond and a small water feature/fountain too. It definitely adds to the ambience. In addition to these, I always have Japanese Zen music playing in the background when I’m up here, I make sure to offer fresh flowers, light incense and tell myself to leave all my day’s stresses outside before I enter this space.  

Birdbaths, Aquatic Plants, Koi Pond, Windchimes, Pebbles
Zen Accessories : Meditative Stones etal

Pro Tip: I wanted to add a fountain but didn’t want to create any new water or electricity connections so guess what? There are solar fountains available online – they work like magic minus unsightly cables or leaks. The sound of trickling water will add to your sense of calm, which is perfect whether you’re meditating or simply enjoying some relaxation in the fresh air. Get one! 

Super cool Wireless Solar Fountain
Koi Fish Pond

Create Comfortable Seating 

It is imperative to have somewhere to sit, drink some Japanese Matcha tea so you can relax and admire the beauty of your garden. A simple wooden bench, a small table with two chairs side by side or even a big wooden 6/8-seater patio dining table if you have the space.

A Seat With A View

Ideally, all the outdoor furniture should be made from natural materials so that they blend into the background and complement the design scheme. So, no plastic. Luckily, we already had a big patio table, bench and chairs that came to good use with this project. 

Pro Tip : It’s a delicate balance to decide between what’s more important to you – open space or things. Always lean towards open spaces because once you get that furniture it’ll stay with you for years. But if space is a constraint, then go for a couple of folding chairs that can be stowed away or hung on a wall when not in use.

Green Al Fresco Dining Spot

Choosing Plants

I wanted a tropical garden feel with lots of palms, foliage and different shaped large leaves. I knew I didn’t want any plants that are hard to care for, attracted bees (they stung my poor dogs), shed a lot or flower although I love flowers. It’s just that all the flowering plants I like are seasonal. I would have loved a frangipani tree for sure but less is more for now. I also wanted to cover the ugly big pots as I didn’t buy any ceramic pots with small ferns, and bromeliads. And I think I succeeded.

Before & After
The Artist’s Visualization And How It All Started

Pro Tip : In landscaping, it’s important to have at-least three different sizes (or 5/7/9) of pots and/or plants. If they’re all the same size, it’s too boring for the eye to look. Create depth with tall, medium, short. Create drama with different shaped, large leaves. Use colours – add a purple plant just for effect among the greens. Let it be Wabi-Sabi – don’t focus on symmetry because there’s so much beauty in imperfection. 

Im using this space I created to practice yoga and meditate. We also host our friends and enjoy al fresco lunches so much more in this ambience. I even painted a mural to liven up one of the walls on our rooftop and it doesn’t look so bad. I think it makes for a pretty picture. What do you think? We hope to be able to use and enjoy it for many years to come. 

New Mural Wall

I hope that by sharing my process, you should succeed in creating a Buddha-themed garden you too can be proud of.