There’s something innately appealing about Japanese rock gardens. It might be the way they emulate real-world landscapes on a smaller scale, or perhaps it’s their enigmatic nature. Whatever it is, these small pictures of paradise have been around for centuries.

According to Om Paramapoonya, Japanese gardens date back to the latter part Japan’s Kofun period (250 – 538), with their origins in Taoism. While the characteristic white rocks hadn’t yet filled the spaces of these manicured landscapes, many of the other features were beginning to take shape ― most notably, the ubiquitous “islands” scattered across the scene. Om notes that these islands stem from “an ancient Taoist belief that somewhere in the middle of the ocean, there are three or five islands where immortals dwell.”

Paramapoonya points to the late 11th century as the time when “dry rocky landscapes were built as a part of mainstream gardens.” Unlike many other gardens around the world, zen rock gardens aren’t meant for recreational gathering. These spaces serve ritualistic purposes, Om says, and facilitate a Zen monk’s “search for the utmost freedom of mind.”

While it’s unlikely you’re a Zen monk, there’s a solid chance that having a rock garden of your own would help you on your search for peace of mind. Fortunately, it’s not as expensive as you’re probably expecting.

While Zen monks took their gardens seriously, it’d be wrong to say that modern-day Americans don’t ― according to the National Gardening Association, we spent nearly $45 billion on landscaping in 2006. This is easy to believe when you hear that the American Society of Landscape Architects recommends putting aside an amount equal to “5 to 10 percent of your home’s worth” just for landscaping your yard.

You might end up with an awesome yard if you put that aside, but if you’re just looking for a low-cost, new feature, a zen garden might be right up your alley.

Better Homes and Gardens landscaper Jason Hodges knows a thing or two about backyard landscaping. While most of us were spending our teenage years playing youth sports and lounging with friends, the now-father of two (a young girl and a fox terrier) spent his formative years honing his burgeoning craft.

Better Homes and Gardens notes that “as a teenager, Jason studied Landscape Horticulture and Construction at the respected Ryde Tafe (and actually ended up teaching the course there later in life).”

If there’s anyone worth taking landscaping advice from, it’s Jason. If you need any qualifications, his four gold medals from the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show should suffice.

Perhaps the most intriguing part about Jason’s tutorial is how easily it all comes together.

He explains that none of the pieces of this project require professional experience. “You don’t have to be a skilled tradesman. There’s no hard carpentry, [or] tricky bricklaying. Just a few simple elements.”

It’s all in the clip below. When the video’s over, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments. Don’t forget to SHARE it with your DIY-minded friends on Facebook!


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