Little Zen Garden




About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instr...

Zen Gardens or dry gardens "kare-sansui" are large outdoor gardens found near temples or monasteries in Japan and are thought to encourage inner contemplation. The sand represents the ocean and the rocks, mountains or islands; the rake is used create ripples in this ocean.

In this instructable I will show you how to make little indoor Zen Gardens that can be kept on your desk at work or in your home to relieve stress and help create a calm and clear mind.

I have also included an unorthodox version more suited to the daydreamer than the meditator which I call the Zen Beach. It is good for remembrance of summers past or tropical getaways we dream of taking(but can't afford). In this version there is no symbolic meaning to each of the elements -the sand is just the sand and the beach ball is merely a beach ball. Drinking a few margaritas or mojitos may enhance the experience.

Step 1: Materials:

What you need:

  • Saucer -I used a 12cm diameter (and 1cm deep) terracotta saucer from a terracotta plant pot ~50cents each
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Craft paint and paintbrush
  • Sand and pebbles -you can get these at a craft store, gardening store, pet store, or a beach or playground
  • Glue
  • Knife or scissors

Beach version

  • Cocktail drink umbrellas (I got mine at the dollar store)
  • Fabric - not very much, just about 2X3 cm square
  • a bead
  • blue and white paint, brushes and felt pens

Step 2: The Saucer

  • Paint your saucer the desired colour. I choose a deep forest green for the Zen garden to create the feel of tranquility as only green can do.
  • For the Zen Beach I choose a light blue, giving it the impression of sky or water.
  • Apply one or more coats as necessary to cover the inside and outside of the saucer.

Step 3: The Rake

With a sharp knife or scissors cut the bamboo skewer the following lengths:
  • 6cm -the handle
  • 2cm -the base of the fork
  • 4X 1cm of the pointed part of the skewers -for the prongs

Once the prongs are cut, take another 1/4cm off the pointy end (we are making a rake not a weapon).

Now; glue all four prongs to the 2cm long base of the fork. When glue dries, glue the handle to the base of the fork; such that it runs perpendicular to the prongs (see images below).

Step 4: Zen Garden; Putting It Together

Pour sand into the saucer, about 3/4 full.

Select the 3 pebbles that you would like to use, they can vary in size and shape, pick which ones are aesthetically pleasing to you. Using 3 pebbles creates asymmetry which implies that there is no perfection in the world, which is important in Buddhist thought.

Rake your sand and place the pebbles. You can rake straight lines or draw circles around the pebbles to create the appearance of ripples caused by dropping a pebble into water.

Step 5: Zen Beach Ball

  • Fill in the two holes of the bead with glue, dab the glue over the holes and once it dried a bit press it into the holes so that it was flush with the surface.
  • Once the glue is completely dry, paint the bead with white craft paint, do one side at a time.
  • When the paint is dry, with felt pens, draw in stripes on the bead to make it look like a beach ball, I used red, blue, green, and yellow.

Step 6: Zen Beach Umbrella and Blanket

Beach blanket
  • With scissors cut a piece of fabric, 2X3cm square. Try to avoid getting frayed edges.

Beach umbrella
  • The drink umbrellas are a bit too tall to stand properly in this sand, so cut about three centimeters off the handle.

Step 7: Zen Beach; Putting It Together

  • Make the same rake used in the Zen Garden -see step 3.
  • Pour sand into the saucer about 3/4 full, and rake it.
  • Place your umbrella and beach blanket so that you are protected from the sun and keep your beach ball close, for when you would like play in the water.



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    50 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 2

    in the first picture they look black and purple instead of green and blue

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The pictures were taken under different lighting, it's a light blue and a dark green.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, I live in Canada, so in the winter, it's nice to daydream of a nice sunny beach.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I did one like this in a small jar with some fine white sand from a beach I frequent.  I added some small shells, a feather, some small stones and a drink umbrella.

    Nice instructable on miniatures.

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    lol just looks like an ash tray filled with sand and rocks to me :P


    10 years ago on Step 7

    I made something similar few years ago. I is really nice decoration, but has one big disadvantage - it is nearly impossible to dust off without damaging the scenery. I also recommend to not trying to blow the dust off, you will only end with sand all over your place.

    1 reply

    Awesome! (Maybe I should go throw the toys out of the grandkids sandbox out back when they are not here,but would have keep my kitties of of the new "litter box" lol. )

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    The sand must be as fine as possible for smooth flow and elegance. Onegaishimasu.