A Zen garden devoid of plants is too minimalist to be considered Zen-liked. Although the sand and rock formation are the primary elements of a Zen garden, the addition of plants balances the neutral color of the sand and the rock. When Zen gardens do include plants, they’re low, spreading species, that’s why a ground cover plant has to be selected carefully to form the Zen garden of your dream.

Photo & article credit: Thompson & Morgan

Hakonechloa Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass, Hakonechloa macra, loves the shade and goes well as ground cover next to a tree, an incline rock or any tall artifice. It can be planted in swathes or as clumps to define a trail. The pointed grass rustles with the wind and a good focal point for meditation. Easy to maintain, it likes even moisture and average humidity, but can tolerate minor dry spells and arid climates (with irrigation) with minimal damage.

Photo & article credit: Gardeners World

Araiostegia parvipinnata The detail of this fern is intricate and pleasing to the eye. Also called an Asian hare’s foot ferns, it spreads and creeps making it a good cover for a moderate to large garden. It likes to thrive on moist, shady spot and well drained soil with humus.

Photo credit: Connon Nurseries

Black or Japanese pine, Pinus thunbergii, is known for being a  horticultural tree not only because of it’s evergreen color but also as tree that can be “trained” in a pot or in an open garden. They are often ‘cloud pruned’ – a technique that involves shaping the crown into soft, cloud-like forms. According to Wikepedia, “In Japan it is widely used as a garden tree both trained as Niwaki and untrained growing as an overstory tree. The trunks and branches are trained from a young age to be elegant and interesting to view. It is one of the classic bonsai subjects, requiring great patience over many years to train properly.”

Photo credit: The Tree Center

Last and certainly not to be remiss is the flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, especially during the Spring. It can be evergreen or deciduous and rather a contemporary take on a Japanese garden. If planted in an open area, they need neutral to acidic soil for healthy growth. Rhododendrons are noted for their fragrance and an impressive feature of a meditative garden.

Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to share a ground cover plant that you will add to your Zen Garden.

*This blog post is my personal opinion only and contains affiliate/referral links.

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