Zen in 10
You know her as the feisty Brit who executes home makeovers, guerrilla style, on HGTV's Debbie Travis' Facelift. But what did the decorating diva, who's more accustomed to paint chips than peat moss, do when her boggy backyard needed a lift? She called in a landscape expert. The tranquil result -- two parts Zen, one part English country -- affords this producer-slash-writer-slash-mother a peaceful garden she couldn't appreciate more. Here are her tips for planning your own Zen garden.
1 Make sure Zen style is right for you. If you're an avid gardener addicted to planting, dividing and moving, austere Japanese design may not be a good fit.
2 Create a budget before you begin. "True, Japanese gardens are minimal, but man, those little bags of rocks can add up!"
3 Incorporate rockery. "Zen gardens rely as much on hard elements like stones as they do on soft plantings, so make sure you include them in your design."
4 Move the rocks around. Since stones are central to the design, be sure they're pleasing to the eye from various vantage points. "Before buying, examine them to see if they look good on all sides."
5 Choose minimal plantings to keep the landscape sparse.
6 Pick tall, spiky varietals over lush, rounded bushes; they're more in keeping with the Zen look.
7 Make the colour scheme soft and homogeneous -- like greys and greens accented with white. "You don't want anything jarring."
8 Opt for low benches and yard architecture typical of traditional Japanese style.
9 Examine the garden from every angle. "I'd survey the yard from my second-floor bedroom to be sure I liked the view. Then I'd go into the kitchen and look again. The last thing you want to see from your kitchen window is your neighbours' plastic swing set."
10 Consider investing in a water feature. Not only do they look attractive, but the sound of running water is very...well, Zen!