How to Build Your Own Desktop Zen Garden





Introduction: How to Build Your Own Desktop Zen Garden

 There are a lot of people that like to have something special on their desk. There are also a lot of people that like gardening, but they simply don't have where to practice it. This little desktop garden will make them all happy.

It's all built from recycled scraps, and easily found stuff.

Let's start building our own desktop zen garden, for those moments that we look away from the papers or the computer.

Step 1: Required Tools and Materials

Here is the list you need to prepare before you start building the zen garden.

- wood scraps - planks and sticks
- some nice rocks you can find, maximum 10cm in size
- small pebbles
- sand
- some separating material (plastic, rubber, fiber) - so the pebbles don't mix with the sand
- old newspapers
- some old paint (i found some water based)

- measuring tool (tape or meter)
- right angle
- screwdriver (manual or electric)
- sharp knife or cutter
- stapler
- clamp
- hand saw
- scissors
- screws
- pencil
- metal file
- paint brush or roller

That's about it... Let's start working!

Step 2: Cut the Wood and Start Making the Box

You need to measure the planks you've found. 
Mine was 84,5 cm long and 14.5 cm wide, so i cut two pieces of 42 cm each.

The sticks i found were of different lengths, so i cut out two pieces of 29 cm for the box legs and another 4 pieces to make the perimeter of the container.

Use the file to smooth all the edges of the planks and the sticks.

The box legs hold the two planks together side by side, so it's easier to mount the perimeter sticks afterwards.

Attention: Please be careful not to split the wood if you have large screws. It's better if you drill the screw holes and afterwards you screw them in. It's the safe way to do it.

Step 3: Insulation and Paint

I used a fibre cloth to insulate the wood from the sand and pebbles. It's not really necessary, because it's a dry garden, but i like to keep materials separated.

I stapled the material tightly to the inside of the box.

I then started sticking newspaper pieces to the wood with the water based paint. I chose to make this so i can hide the defects on the sticks, the screw holes and the spaces between the wooden parts. If you have good quality wood you don't need to do this.

Personally i like the texture the paper gave the box.

Step 4: Adding the Fillings

 After the paint has dried, i stapled some canvas strips that have the width equal to the box edges height height, at about 2 cm from the sides, so i created a space for the pebbles. This is important because you don't want the pebbles to mix with the sand.

After you add the pebbles, you add the sand and you level it with a flat stick.

You choose your bigger stones and position them as you like.

Afterwards you scrape the sand with a screw tip or something sharp from one side to the other with straight lines. This will give the sand the impression of water. Also scrape the perimeter of the rocks with 3-5 lines that emulate water ripples.

There you have it! Your desktop Zen garden :)

Step 5: Finished Zen Garden

Here are some photos with the result of my work.

Good luck!

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    18 Discussions

    i used those cheap zen gardens you buy at dollar tree for the decorations and rake then bought a nice picture frame and sealed it, and bought extra sand. cost about 4 dollars

    you can take an old fork and bend the tips back to make a rake

    Seems i have to make an instructable on how to build the tools to care for the garden :)

    This will make a great gift for my aunt considering her daughter(age 6) was just diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes.

    This will be a great thing to put on her bed side table to relieve the stress that comes with the fights and temper tantrums my cousin is having as a result of the finger pricks and insulin shots.

    On a positive note this is an amazing instructable!

    1 reply

    I am very sorry to hear that the little girl is sick... I hope this small garden will help her build better spirit. Please accept my best wishes for her! If you need in-depth explanations, just ask. Also, thank you for the rating.

    Thanks for the comments! :) I am glad that you are contributing with variations and ideas! Have fun building! :)

    I have one of these and I bought my sand at the Dollar Store it comes in different colors.

    I always use my lava lamp as a distraction.

    ...but then I end up staring at it for a long time, not even realizing time is passing by. I should probably make one of these for a change...

    1 reply

    Yep, maybe you should cause it can be an interactive feature on your desk.

    It can be a bit of a workout for the fingers if you rake the sand differently each day :)

    Good luck with it!

    Thanks! :) I'm glad you like it!

    If you need any detailed information, just ask.
    Good luck with your builds!

    awesome! you have inspired me to either make one of these with water and some grass, (maybe a flower too) or reuse that old usb fish tank i wasted $10 on. (the way they advertised it made it look so awesome!) too bad it only lasted a week before the motor seized up

    Very nice! I will try this for my dining table center piece. 5*