At Home in the Zen Garden


Next we placed pavers in a simple pattern, filled the space with river rock.

By Elle

We finally finished creating our Zen garden, which is this nifty alcove in front of the house. Prior to our redo, the space was blah. It housed a wall of burning bushes, a rhododendron and a crapload of weeds. But it had the potential to be fabulous!

We envisioned a calm, serene space that would require little to no maintenance. So we starting buying rocks. (BTW, if you need a reasonable quantity of rocks (i.e., not a truckload), Lowe’s and Home Depot sell their busted bags for half off; it’s quite the deal. They’ll even rebag them or tape the holes so you don’t wind up with a car full of loose rocks.) Then we slowly added some plants and a few decorative items, keeping in mind we wanted the space to feel clean and minimal. Not entirely sure we pulled that off, but the space is definitely welcoming and peaceful.

Anyway, check out the photos below. I explain in the captions what we did. My favorite part is that the kitchen window overlooks the Zen garden, so I can be all serene-like while I’m sipping a glass of wine and making dinner.

Let me know what you think!

future zen garden

The “before” photo. We were eager to transform that cool garden space in the front of the house. And I was eager to mow down those dang burning bushes. We’ve also since tightened up that front garden space, considerably.

The first thing we did was replace old, old windows with glass block.

The first thing we did (after mowing down the dang burning bushes) was to replace an old leaky window with glass block.

At the foundation, you can see two new glass block windows. These had been open vents. Even in the winter. I guess that made sense in the 70s. My gas bill says glass block makes better sense.

At the foundation, you can see two new glass block windows. These had been open vents. Open, even in the winter. I guess that made sense in the 70s. My gas bill tells me that glass block makes much better sense. The pesky gas contraption on the left will be hidden by our old metal window well cover, which I spray painted white, once we permanently “install” it.

We planted hostas in between the former open vents and filled the space in front of the vents (now glass block) with marble.

We planted hostas in between the former open vents and filled the space in front of the vents (now glass block) with stones. In the foreground, you can see our mint garden, which is contained in a metal frame that Arkady made. (Dear Universe: Encourage the mint to stay within the confines of the frame and not take over the entire space.)

Next we placed pavers in a simple pattern, filled the space with river rock.

Next we laid down landscape fabric, placed pavers in a simple pattern and filled the space with river rock. Hmm, I see my mint needs a trim.

We added a stone bench, two sky pencil holly bushes and our foo dogs, who protect our sacred space.

We added a stone bench, two sky pencil holly bushes (they’ll grow to about 10 feet), a moss-covered rock and our foo dogs, who protect our now sacred space. If you need any mint, let me know. Or just come and pick some. Seriously, take as much as you want.

View from the "entrance" off the driveway.

View from the “entrance” off the driveway.

Arkady has been obsessed with dawn redwoods since he discovered they can grow in Ohio. So we have two in the Zen garden. And three in the backyard. And one growing in a pot in the kitchen.

Arkady has been obsessed with dawn redwoods since he discovered they can grow in Ohio. So we have two in the Zen garden. And three in the backyard. And one growing in a pot in the kitchen.

View from the front.

View from the front. Ah, I feel more relaxed than ever. Cheers!

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