Introduction: Picture Frame Zen Garden

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How to build your very own desktop Zen garden on the cheap!

Step 1: Supplies

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First, gather the following supplies:
*Calcium Sand (commonly sold at pet stores in the Reptile section $8.99)
*Elmer's Wood Glue
*Cheap flimsy fork (or you can follow one of this guide
*Cool looking rocks
*Deep picture frame ($2.99 at Ross)

Step 2: Glue

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Glue around the edges of the picture frame, front and back.
This will prevent sand leaking through any cracks.

Be careful not to use to much glue, otherwise it will leak out as it is drying.

Let dry face up (so glue doesn't ruin the face of the frame, with paper towels underneath.

Step 3: Fill Your Garden

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Once the glue has dried, fill the garden with sand.

Make sure to smooth out the sand between pouring to get it to reach your desired level.

Step 4: There Is No Fork!

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Now it is time to make your rake.

Bend the fork using only your mind (or your hands if you haven't achieved inner zen yet).

If you want to make a wooden rake, this is an excellent tutorial:

Step 5: Using Your Zen Garden

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You are now finished!

Use your zen garden by arranging the rocks how you like, and raking patterns into the sand.

For more about Japanese Zen Gardens, please visit


Parrhesia (author)2012-02-25

I made one of these for my husband to put on his desk at work (actually, I gave him the supplies so he could set it up to his own liking). I went more whimsical than Zen with it - found coloured sand at Michael's, added a small mirror, a cool-looking gem, sea shells, and little blue glass pebbles. I like the idea of a fork for a rake! That's the only thing I was missing - I tried to make one out of wire, but am not thrilled with the results. Thank you :)

Azayles (author)2010-05-22

For those having trouble with step 4, don't try and bend the fork, that's impossible. Instead, only try and realise the truth.

Chrisbrooks84 (author)Azayles2012-02-20

There is no fork!

tfrost1980 (author)2011-01-14

I actually made this exact thing about five years ago. I got all the materials from the Dollar Tree. They sell tiny zen gardens that include the rake, rocks and other accessories, mine had a small buddha head and a little stone bench

dchall8 (author)2010-02-21

Good 'ible.  I like Zen gardens but never knew where to get the sand.  Thanks!!

Skwalin (author)dchall82010-02-21

Haha, I looked everywhere for the sand.  I was hoping to be able to get it from a home and garden type place, but no such luck.
A pet shop had to do, but the price was amped up because it had to be "Safe for Reptiles"

D Jason Payne (author)2010-02-20

I like it.

Skwalin (author)D Jason Payne2010-02-20

Thanks man!

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