A zen garden is a refuge that can be placed in nearly any space. Some zen gardens are large sweeping creations that encompass acres, while some are tiny desktop gardens that take up no more room than a notebook. It’s not difficult to create a constantly changing work of art that is visually pleasing with clean, flowing lines and carefully placed objects. Best of all, a small zen garden is incredibly cheap to create! It will also show your unique style of rocks and sand patterns.
Decide how large you want to make your Zen garden. Assess your available space. Are you going to make a garden that fills up part of your backyard, or are you going to start with a Zen garden to place on your desk? The steps are the same, the scale will just be different.
Create a mold to contain the sand and/or gravel. Sand or gravel generally form the matrix of a Zen garden, and to keep it looking sharp, you need the matrix to be contained. If you are making a large garden, consider using 2" x 4" pieces of lumber, old railroad ties, or any other type of wood. If you are making a desktop Zen garden, simply gather and cut enough wood to make a small container.
Nail, screw, or glue together your form. After you have completed your form, you can decorate the wood by painting, staining, or varnishing it.
Place a weed retainer, such as black plastic, down prior to setting your Zen garden mold. Zen gardens receive much of their appeal from their cleanliness. Keeping out weeds is a must for outdoor gardens.
Fill the form to the top with sand or gravel. Spread the sand or gravel evenly and as level as possible. For a small desktop garden, you might be able to buy sand in small bags at a local pet shop or aquarium supply store. For larger gardens, call the local rock shop, quarry, or landscaping supply company. This is only needed in an outdoor garden.
Put selected features in your Zen garden to set a visually stimulating theme. Consider using old, mossy logs, rocks with interesting colors, shapes or textures, or other items. Place them off-center and partially submerged for the best effect. Zen gardens generally include natural items made of wood, rock and vegetation, but don’t be afraid to add statues or other additions. Just don’t clutter your Zen garden. Remember, you want it to be peaceful and simple. Make sure that the feng shui is in check with your karma an dharma before enjoying your zen garden! If it is not balanced properly, there could be some major problems and could possibly send your karma into a yin yang whirlwind (which is NOT good!) * See feng shui and karma for details.
Rake the sand or gravel in long, curving strokes to represent water ripples. You can use a number of patterns to accentuate your garden. The nice thing is that you can change it as many times as you like!