Mini zen gardens are wonderful decor items that do serve a calming purpose. Traditionally, in Japanese culture, large scale zen gardens represent water features and are used to promote meditation.
Mini gardens can also be used for meditation and mindfulness too. Taking the time, centering yourself and really focusing on raking the sand and arranging the figurines can help keep you in the present moment. It’s also about calmness and peace.
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Dry zen gardens symbolism
Traditional dry zen gardens contain sand or gravel and stones.
The sand or gravel symbolizes water and, in nature, water usually has ripples. So all the patterns drawn in the sand – circular and line patterns – represent the ripple effects. If water droplets fall into a calm river, there will be circular ripples. If there is wind, you will see lines. And circular ripples always form around rock outcrops in the water.
Droplets falling and sploshing, while calming in its own right, can be loud and noisy. So, using sand (or gravel when there is wind) is the perfect substitute to maintain the quiet and the calm. With the sand, your meditation won’t be suddenly disturbed by water sounds.
As for the stones or rocks, they represent common features in the riverine landscape. Little outcrops and even islands are part of that.
In most cases, the placement of the stones in the zen garden is deliberate. Using them to draw asymmetrical triangles is common as is placing taller rocks to the back of the smaller ones. The placement is all intended to please your eyes and bring a sense of calm when viewing the scenery.
More modern dry zen gardens will have plants, mosses, and even water features. They also add interesting, relaxing and decorating elements to your zen garden.
Purpose of a mini zen garden
A mini zen garden works much in the same way as a full sized zen garden since the mini version is a tool that can be used for mindfulness, meditation, self-reflection, internal awareness, and being present in the moment.
The repetitiveness of raking the sand around the structures in the mini zen garden can promote calmness, tranquility, concentration, focus, and create a time and space to explore your inner thoughts and feelings.
Beautiful mini zen gardens to buy
1. Aovoa zen garden
This indoor mini zen garden is as complete as it gets. It comes with a 12″ x 8″ container, white sand, bamboo tools, bridge, rocks and figurines like trees. It also comes with a fun sand sphere to make this a sensory experience when using the garden.
2. Island Falls zen garden
Here’s another beautiful zen garden that is the same size (11″ x 8″) and comes with so many wonderful accessories from cherry blossom figurines, pagoda, bridge, lotus flower, zen stones, and bamboo rakes. How complete is this set?
3. Enso Sensory Japanese zen garden
This one is a bit different. It’s a lot more sensory since it comes with patterned flow balls that you can roll around in the sand. It comes with a 12 inch circular tray, brush, ball holder and wooden comb. Make beautiful, intricate designs while you relax.
If you’re more interested in a sensory experience, try this zen box with kinetic sand.
4. Full ON zen meditation garden
This garden looks It’s so sleek and beautiful. Plus, it comes with a 10″ circular wood tray, white sand, flow balls, incense burner, mini pagoda and raking tools. Use the flow balls to make intricate designs in the sand too.
5. Pera Decor zen garden
Pera Decor zen garden is simple and elegant. It comes with an 11″ x 7.5″ bamboo tray, white sand, lotus flower, rocks, bridge, pagoda, mosses, and blossoming tree figurine. It also comes with 6 bamboo rakes to make wonderful, relaxing patterns.
6. ICNBUYS zen garden with bridge
Here’s another wonderful zen garden from ICNBUYS. It measures 11.8″ x 9.4″ and comes with Japanese cherry and swan figurines, pagoda, bridge and stones.
7. BangBangDa tabletop meditation zen garden
This mini zen garden has more of a fairy garden theme. It has fun elements that you and your kids will enjoy.
It comes with a 11″ x 7.5″ bamboo tray, white sand, and accessories like ceramic lotus incense holder, little trees, moss, 6 raking tools, little figures like koi, turtle, frog, lanterns, tower, and leaves.
The garden is as cute as cute gets.
8. Mini zen garden sea life
This isn’t a typical relaxing Japanese zen garden, but it is certainly unique and adorable sandbox. It comes with an 8.5″ circular wooden tray, aqua sand, rocks, a log, and lots of sea animal figurines. Plus, the garden comes with a rake and stylus.
These are all great gardens for meditation and décor; but they aren’t your only options. You can make your own DIY mini zen garden!
DIY mini zen gardens
Making your own garden is fairly simple. You’ll need:
- A mini rake
- A container for your sand (or tiny pebbles)
- Sand (or tiny pebbles)
- Stones and mini rocks
- Plants are optional
- Decorative statues are optional
You’ll need rakes to form nice, calming patterns in the sand. You can repurpose a fork or spork for this. Toothpicks and bamboo skewers can also be used too.
This simple rake set is also lovely.
As for containers, you are essentially looking for a desk top sand box. You can repurpose old wooden furniture, scrap pieces, or wooden pallets. Even older plastic containers or glass dishes are good options.
Personally, I like using wooden trays – especially bamboo ones. They can be rectangular or round. The choice and creative control are all in your hands.
Take a look at these. You can use them for a number of things – including your DIY mini zen garden.
You can collect sand on your next beach visit. Remove any odd bits from it and wash with chlorinated water to kill any pathogens in the sand. Strain using a large cloth. Once the sand is dry, you can add it to your zen garden.
If beach sand isn’t for you, pick up beautiful white sand on Amazon.
For more decorative zen gardens, think about getting colored sand. There are tons of colored options on Amazon.
Stones and rocks
On your outdoor adventure, pick up rocks and stones that appeal to you. River and beach stones are my personal favorite because they are smooth and more rounded. But sharp edges are fine too.
Plants add a nice pop of color (if colored sand isn’t your thing!). Air plants that don’t need soil to grow are perfect for mini zen gardens. Bonsai, succulents, and mosses are also wonderful options.
Tillandsia air plants are great choices.
If you’re worried about killing the plants, try artificial ones.
As bonsais go, this live juniper tree is a beautiful option and comes in a 7.5 by 5 inch pot. Water it often, give it light and love and you’ll enjoy this natural feature in your own DIY zen garden.
With zen gardens being representative of a riverine environment, you don’t need statues or figurines. But, if you are tending towards a more decorative look and feel, miniature zen garden accessories and figurines will make wonderful additions.
This wonderful set has 23 cute figurines for your zen garden.
These adorable figurines will give a more fairy garden vibe.
Here are a few more ideas from this Youtube video:
Once you’ve organized your container, sand and stones, start raking and think about the calm serenity of nature.
Do you have a zen garden? I’d love to hear about your one.