How to Make Your Own Miniature Zen Garden

Written by patricia telesco
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How to Make Your Own Miniature Zen Garden
Use a miniature Zen sand and stone garden as a meditative tool. (zen image by KALISTE A from

The Japanese are well known for revering nature and its beauty, a sentiment strongly reflected in their gardening efforts. In a Zen-themed garden, rocks create the main support for the entire layout. Often, various coloured stones are used to stress contrast while offering visual intrigue and lovely simplicity. The keynote elements of a Zen garden--including flowers, lanterns, bridges and water features--typically combine in odd-numbered sets assembled in an asymmetric manner with the ultimate goal of creating a tranquil haven. When you want a garden like this but have limited space, make a miniature Zen stone garden. It's a fun project that results in an interesting conversation piece for your home.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 9-inch by 12-inch wooden box
  • Sandpaper
  • Newspaper
  • Black spray paint
  • Sand, finely sifted
  • Rocks or crystals, various size
  • Miniature rake

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  1. 1

    Wipe out the 9-by-12 wooden box and make sure the exterior shows no signs of splinters. If necessary, sand any rough edges smooth, moving in one direction with the wood's grain.

    How to Make Your Own Miniature Zen Garden
    Use very fine grit sandpaper (220-240) or fine grit (150-180) for removing rough spots. (wooden box image by ril from
  2. 2

    Place the box on newspaper in a well-ventilated area. Spray one even coat of paint inside the box and let it dry. Turn it over and do the other side. If you want a heavier finish, add a second coat. For a shiny, almost lacquered appearance, use high-gloss paint.

  3. 3

    Fill the box with sand leaving about 1/2 inch at the top so the sand won't easily spill out. Smooth it out with your hand.

  4. 4

    Place your chosen stones or crystals in gatherings of three, five or seven around the surface of the sand. Keep your design sparse. More does not equal better in Zen art.

  5. 5

    Take the miniature rake (you can find these at craft stores) and gently pattern the sand around the stones. There is no right or wrong way to pattern Zen garden sand. However, concentric circles are common options.

  6. 6

    Put the Zen garden on a tabletop where you, family or friends can enjoy making new designs. Zen stone gardens make an excellent meditative aid.

Tips and warnings

  • Look at pictures of miniature Zen gardens online for pattern ideas.
  • Use coloured crystals mingled with smooth beach stones for textural variety.
  • Never use spray paint without proper ventilation.
  • Keep your finished Zen garden away from cats who may try to use it as a litter pan.

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