Create Your Own Mini Zen Gardens – Design, Ideas & Kits

Feeling a bit overwhelmed or a little stressed? A mini zen garden could be the simple answer to the stress you have been feeling lately. 

While walking a huge labyrinth or a long mountain hike are great ways to relax and find peace, we don’t always have access to those things in our daily lives. Building your own mini zen garden can offer more convenient opportunities for relaxation. 

Purpose & Benefits of an Indoor Zen Garden

When you think of zen gardens, you may have visions of a backyard oasis with waterfalls and complex plant arrangements, but zen is not limited to vast outdoor spaces. You can create your own little moment of peace with a mini zen garden. 

An indoor Zen garden encompasses many of the aspects of a larger, outdoor meditation garden but exists in the same spaces you occupy every day. 

The biggest purpose and benefit of an indoor zen garden are to practice mindfulness in a convenient way. 

According to the University of Washington, mindfulness is “a state of intentional, nonjudgmental focus on the present moment.”

Numerous studies have shown mindfulness to help reduce stress, improve mood, and heighten brain function. The relaxation you enjoy from mindfulness practices, like utilizing a zen garden or meditation, can be wildly beneficial to your health. 

With an indoor zen garden, you can access that mindfulness while you are at your home, during work hours, or at your convenience. 

Design Elements for Your Zen Garden

Elements included in a zen garden can vary depending on your preferences. Generally speaking, there are three foundational elements for a zen garden.

  1. Sand
  2. Rocks
  3. Plants
small zen garden with rocks, sand, rake, small bench and tree

Sand

A crucial element needed to interact with your mini zen garden physically is sand (or fine gravel). The popular meditative practice with a zen sand garden is to rake the sand to mimic water patterns. 

The rakes used to manipulate the sand can be handheld tools or permanent structures within the garden. 

Rocks

Rocks help to symbolize the earth within a zen sand garden. In a dry zen sand garden, different rock types are also meant to symbolize other elements of nature. For example, a pile of boulders may be meant to represent a mountain

Plants

While plants are not usually included in a zen garden, strategically placed moss or shrubs can add definition to the area. Plants are also commonly placed around a zen garden to create separation from outside elements to create a quiet and private place to meditate. 

Occasionally, you may see a succulent or cactus included in a zen garden. Rarely will there be any lush plants included directly unless they are around the perimeter. 

Inspirational Ideas for Zen Garden

Choosing a mini zen garden for your personal indoor use can be as easy as online shopping. There are plenty of specialty artists and small businesses offering pre-made mini zen gardens or kits to make your own. We love these inspirational ideas. 

Desktop Zen Garden

Our work desk can be a center of stress in our daily lives. That’s why a desktop zen garden is such a great and portable idea for relaxing. 

We love this tiny desktop zen garden with Japanese-inspired miniatures included from Esty. 

Asian inspired desktop zen kit on wooden table

Desktop Zen Garden Kit for the Office

By COCOROStore on Etsy

This option with colorful crystals and an adorable succulent is also appealing. 

Round wooden zen garden kit with colorful crystals and a small succulant

Zen Desktop Lola Succulent Garden w/ Crystal Stones

by ItSuccsHere on Etsy

Child-Friendly Zen Garden

Zen gardens are not just for adults. Kids can have a lot of fun learning mindfulness with a cute mini zen garden aimed towards their preferences. 

This adorable one from Esty has these kits with colored sand and cutesy themes like the ocean, purple owl, and natural hedgehog. The little animal figures are sure to delight children and adults alike. 

3 kids mini zen garden kits - blue sand with ocean theme, purple sand with an owl theme and desert sand with a turtle

Creative & Colorful Miniature Zen Sand Garden Kits

by PartynWithPlants on Etsy

Keep in mind the pieces are smaller and more suitable for older children to avoid the risk of choking. 

Zen in a Tin

This tiny zen garden is built inside of a metal tin to make it super portable. Included are aromatherapy elements like a diffuser stone for essential oils. It also encompasses motivational quotes like “I’ve got this” and “breathe.”

A tiny tin zen garden could be a fantastic gift for a busy mom to keep with her in her bag. The container looks similar to a popular mint brand and would be a very discreet option while waiting in the carpool line or at the doctor’s office. 

Small handheld Zen tin Kit in a peppermint box

A Moment of Zen miniature aromatherapy zen garden kit

by BloomingLightVT on Etsy

Automatic Zen Garden

Utilizing a system of metal balls, magnets, and a motor, an automatic zen garden can be quite a calming feature for your home or office. 

For example, the SandScript can be adjusted with the dials on the side to create beautiful sand drawings. Watching this item work is surprisingly soothing and definitely beautiful. 

This could be a lovely item for your personal collection. Or, if you have an office that often has public clients or customers, an automatic zen garden could be a fantastic conversation point or a simple way to calm clients in your waiting room. 

How to Make Your Own Zen Garden

Purchasing a zen garden kit is an easy way to get started quickly with this mindfulness practice. But maybe you are more of a DIY kind of person. Or perhaps you have particular elements you would like to include. 

Both a DIY zen garden and the pre-made kits are valid options to create your personal corner of zen. 

Ideas for a DIY Zen Garden

Traditional. To create a traditional mini sand zen garden, you will need the essential elements of sand, rocks, a rake (or similar object), and a container. The most popular materials for a container are wood or plastic. 

There are limitless choices within those basic elements to create a zen garden perfectly suited to your own unique style.

black framed small sand garden with Zen printed on the stone and a small rake in the foreground

Recycled. Incorporating upcycled or recycled material is a nice nod to the nature that zen gardens are meant to represent. The thicker gift boxes make a great container for the sand. 

An old comb could be reused as a rake. You could collect stones or small twigs from the backyard. There are a variety of ways to utilized recycled materials, which are both eco-friendly and wallet-friendly. 

In a tin. If you loved the zen garden in a tin from Esty, you could recreate this idea yourself. Not only that, this can be another example of recycling. 

Find a metal tin that held house mints, or soap, or other toiletries. Fill with sand and miniature stones. Pair with a tiny rake, and you can have zen anywhere. This blogger uses skewers or small wooden dowels to create a mini rake for the tins. These also make fantastic gifts. 

Get the kids involved. Not only do children love playing with zen gardens, but they can also have fun building their own. Imagine a tiny private sandbox that they helped build. 

Incorporate elements of whimsy like colored sand, cutesy animal figurines, and plastic toys will create the child-like wonder. 

Summary

Ultimately, there is no reason not to have a zen garden to escape to on a regular basis. With so many customizable options, sizes, colors, and even smells — there is a zen garden for everyone at nearly any budget. 

Get the whole family involved or create a private space for some “me” time. Once you have your zen garden set up, enjoy the relaxing space to practice mindfulness and reduce stress.

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