Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Nov 26
2 min read
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small desktop zen garden

What Are Zen Gardens?

Zen Gardens originated as aids for Buddhist monks during meditation to help the mind find rest and take in the teachings of Buddha. They were incorporated into the Japanese temple gardens before becoming a more common part of Japanese life culture. The whole idea is to maintain a minimalistic representation of the natural elements of the Earth to evoke meaning and inner reflection.

As we live our lives our minds are cluttered with tasks and to do lists that are focused on trivial pursuits. This lifestyle creates dissonance between us and nature. By interacting with simple, natural elements we are able to ground our minds and create a moment of tranquility and rest. It is about creating harmony between ourselves and nature.


How To Make A Zen Garden?

Because zen gardens are really meant to aid individuals there is not a specific format for creating a zen garden. The basic components include sand, rocks/stone, and sometimes water or a few plants.

These components can be combined and organized in any way that you feel so drawn to place them. Because there aren’t traditionally any plants incorporated into these gardens you can turn those hard to plant areas into a zen oasis.

To create within your landscape it is common to create a box or contained area where the zen garden is made that is then surrounded by plants. This creates a sense of being in nature while also focusing on the basic components it is made of.

To bring these gardens indoors you can create a mini version that is perfect for any desktop. Spending even a few minutes a day raking patterns into the sand can help the mind rest and rejuvenate.

To Make A Mini Zen Garden:


  1. Pick a small container, we recommend using these small wood planter boxes
  2. Add a fine sand - traditionally white sand is used but colored sand could be used too
  3. Add a few smoothed rocks
  4. Add any other small statues, plants, etc. if you would like
  5. Place near your workspace
  6. Use a small rake to smooth the sand and create calming patterns in the sand

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