Raking a Zen Garden is different from normal garden work; it is an exercise in calming the mind. Also known as a Japanese garden or dry-landscape garden, the Zen Garden is associated with Zen Buddhism, as they are common in Zen temples for the use of meditation. There are also several types of dry-landscape gardens, such as a tea garden or a strolling garden. This post will acquaint you with traditional methods of dry-landscape maintenance and show you how to rake a Zen Garden.
Acquire, find or make a Zen garden. Desktop Zen Gardens are available through stores, and the necessary materials required to make them can be found at many home and garden stores. If you have found a Zen garden in your town and wish to rake it, ask permission first. Many of these gardens are made for visitors to sit and contemplate, rather than rake.
Choose a rake. There are 2 common types of dry landscape rakes. They are called the saw-tooth rake and the dowel-tooth rake. A saw-tooth rake head is made out of a singular piece of wood, and the teeth are formed when triangular shapes are taken out of the wood, similar to a saw-blade. The dowel-tooth rake has teeth made from bamboo or wooden dowels that are attached to a length of wood. The space between the teeth should differ based on the coarseness of the gravel and your desired design in the gravel. For example, if your gravel is very coarse, you would want a rake that has more space between the teeth. Also, the overall size of your rake will depend upon the size of your garden. A desktop garden would require a very small rake that you can fit between your thumb and forefinger.
Decide what you want to achieve with your garden. Is your goal purely aesthetic? In Zen Buddhism, the raking of dry-landscape gardens is thought to improve concentration. In general, a Japanese garden is used to create illusions, such as water or a landscape, and in turn influence your mind by considering those concepts.
Consider a pattern you would like to draw with the rake, taking into account all of the other elements, stones, trees or other plants. For example, a rock can be placed in the sand to represent a frog jumping into water. The rake would then draw circles around the stone, representing the ripple effect. Plan your design in advance. Many gardeners use patterns that leave no footprints, a very hard thing to do if you are raking a larger garden.
While you can design your own raking patterns, there are some time-honored patterns that Zen gardeners use: The Aranami pattern. This is translated as “stormy waves.” Create big, rough ridges to represent turbulent seas. The Ginshanda pattern. This is translated to mean “silver sand and open sea.” Draw a calm wave pattern. The Mizumon pattern is translated as “water” or “water pattern.” A very common pattern, used to signify the ripple pattern around rocks and straight wavelets. The Ryūsui pattern means “running water.” Rake the sand to represent flowing streams and rivers. Sazanamimon is a “ripple pattern.” This design represents the waves or ripples around moss islands or rocks. The Seikaiha pattern means “sea waves.” Rake very large wave patterns. The Tatsunami pattern indicates “great waves,” or creating the zigzag pattern of waves.
Take deep breaths to calm the body and mind.
Use the opposite side of the rake, and with the straight edge smooth your sand or gravel, creating a blank canvas.
Rake your garden in your desired design. Work slowly and deliberately.
It may look easy, but raking a Zen garden requires practice. Rake whenever you are in need of a calming effect on the mind.