Before & After: From Rustic Barn to Zen Garden

Ok — I am back to work  and wanted to share this last Before & After with you that I meant to post yesterday before I lost all modern connections to the outside world 😉
before and after garden barn tear down zen garden

While I quite like the look of run down old barns, they can be dangerous. Recognizing the safety issue here, sadly this barn was torn down to make way for something new. The was wood sent to a salvage company for re-use as a beautiful floor somewhere and what remained was a crumbling mess of granite foundations.

By spending very little in the way of materials, this project transformed the barn site – using much of the onsite remains – into a beautiful Japanese rock garden (枯山水, karesansui).

before and after garden barn coversion to a zen garden

There are some really distinctive planting details here and I think as this garden grows, it will become ever increasingly more interesting.  Make sure you click through the images below (I made sure they load in before, during and after chronological order) to see how this garden was re-worked.

If you want a little more information, images or some ‘how-to’ to do something like this yourself, check out this instuctables link (how to turn an old barn into a Zen garden).

zen garden before and after

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. erin on February 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Hello! I’m so happy to have found your blog! We bought a house with a yard that’s just under 2 acres- I know that your blog will be an inspiration here on out! Can’t wait to visit again when I have a couple of free hours. 🙂

  2. Laguna Dirt on February 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    what a wonderful idea! great tour! so serene! i want my own silo!

  3. louise on February 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Where in Japan is this garden??

  4. rochelle on February 12, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Louise — I think this is actually in Canada – near Ontario – (it never says on the instructables link, but I presume from a reference in the comments)

  5. Wendy C on February 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Your site is great, so inspirational and exciting, what fab ideas you pass along.
    I think that the idea of this garden was wonderful but totally missed the mark on execution. In the hands of a better designer it would have been incredible. I saw a much smaller sunken stone foundation garden in Mahone Bay N.S. and it was , hopefully still is, beautiful.
    Isn’t that silo amazing?

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