Home Do it Yourself (DIY) Zen Gardens Are Powerful Peace Promoters When You Personalize

Zen Gardens Are Powerful Peace Promoters When You Personalize


Zen Gardens Should Be Personal

Zen gardens are one of those things that everyone kind of likes the idea of, but not very many people create them. I remember buying a zen garden as a kid from the Dollar Store and while it amused me long enough to set it up, I more or less forgot about it after that.

The thing I realized is that I didn’t care about the zen garden because it was just some premanufactured thing with no personal significance. The rocks and sand meant nothing more than the fact that they had come with the kit. I didn’t know where they came from!

Inspiration Strikes

The idea came to me over a year ago to make my zen garden. It started with a small collection of sea glass I found in Acapulco. Then I decided to get sand from Acapulco and start collecting more things. By the end, I had more zen garden decorations than could fit in my little garden.

The Result

The changing pieces and the ability to change the layout kept me engaged. I’ve redone my zen garden repeatedly during conference calls, as it allows me to keep my hands busy while listening. Every time I redo my zen garden, I am reminded of the memories behind acquiring each piece.

The Philosophy

The thing that makes a zen garden useful in reality as a tool is not the fact that it’s pretty. Or even that it’s “zen.” When you make a personalized zen garden it allows you to reflect on some of the better times in your life. As I pick up each piece, I’m reminded of the personal discovery at a market or even at a beach in the water. Or I’m reminded of the person who gave it to me as some of the pieces have been gifts. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable beginning with a kit as a starting point for building out your personalized garden. 


What materials you use will depend on your experiences. I’m going to list the materials I have and where I got them.

Sand – Acapulco Bay in Pie de la Cuesta

Tiles – Mexico City Artisan Market

Pyramid – Teotihuacan Pyramids in Mexico

Stones of various kinds – Gifted from sister, boyfriends’ sister or purchased outright

Big Piece of Amethyst: Purchased for 20 pesos in Taxco Mexico

Large Stone found in Acapulco

Crafted Tree – Taxco

Glass Pan – Cooking Pan from the Store

The Process

It’s fairly simple to put together your own zen garden. Just pour the sand in and flatten it out. You can use forks or combs to make patterns in the sand if you’d like, I generally just leave it flat. Then just arrange your pieces as you’d like.

I change designs every week or two. The biggest hurdle I have to deal with for my garden is my foster cat. She really loves to lay in zen gardens, a habit she got from her owner. So it’s been a battle to train her to leave the zen garden be. Usually, I am triggered to change the design when I find her pawprints in it from walking across my desk.

The other thing I’ve learned to be careful of is not overcrowding or using too many tiny pieces. For a while, I used some tiny sea glass pieces that were harder to deal with because they’d get lost in the sand. That caused me to put off changing the design which isn’t very zen.

So keep it simple, keep it personal and be sure to share your zen garden if this is something you already do!

Looking for tips for doing something bigger, outside?  Check this recent post!

Check out this Instagram post I recently shared about this garden. 

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