Mini zen gardens are beautiful decorations that serve a calming purpose. In Japanese culture, they represent rivers. That’s why they are used to promote meditation and finding your inner 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.
Can you see the symbolism?
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.
Beautiful Mini Zen Gardens to Buy
1. Simple Black Mini Zen Garden
This little indoor zen garden is simplicity at its finest. It comes with a 8″ x 7″ container, brown sand, a few stones and a little rake. There are no bells and whistles here – but it is all made in the USA, so you can expect a high-quality product.
2. ICNBUYS Mini Zen Garden Classic
Here’s another simple setup. ICNBUYS has a great reputation when it comes to quality zen garden.
This one comes with a 10″ x 7″ plastic basin, white sand, three beautiful river pebbles, rake, pushing sand pen and bamboo drawing pen. The contrast between the white sand, black basin and grey pebbles are aesthetically pleasing for sure. Plus you get nice options for raking and creating patterns.
This ICNBUY garden is one of the nicest (but simplest) gardens I’ve seen.
3. Buddhist Monk Garden
This miniature garden from Mygift is very durable since it is made of cement. It is 11.5″ x 9.5″ and comes in a more rounded shape. You’ll get a cement Buddhist monk statue, decorative sculptures, sand, rocks and a rake with this set. Isn’t it pretty?
4. Zantra Premium Zen Garden
For a more meditation and mindfulness inspired garden, Zantra’s might be your favorite (it is mine!).
It has a more Japanese aesthetic and is a bit larger than the others, measuring at 12″ x 8″. It comes with a sturdy, solid wooden tray, Japanese Buddha statue, sand, rocks, architectural pagoda figure, lotus flower and bamboo rakes.
Look at this high quality miniature zen garden.
5. Full ON Zen Meditation Garden
This garden screams sophisticated desk décor. It is sleek and beautiful. Plus, it comes with a 10″ 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 – they look like stunning shell patterns.
6. ICNBUYS Yin Yang Rock Garden
ICNBUYS yin yang mini garden is truly unique with the yin and yang shapes in the 12″ square wooden tray. It comes with beautiful black and white sands that are so pleasing to the eye. It’ll make a wonderful addition to any meditation space.
This large tabletop zen garden comes with a porcelain meditating statue, stones, temple figurine, incense, candle, and rake. Beautiful, isn’t it?
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.
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.
Or check out this 6 piece rake set.
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 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.
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.
These mini Buddha statues are less than three inches tall and will fit perfectly in your DIY 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.