How to Make a Large Zen Garden


A Zen garden is a great addition to any garden, especially if you want to incorporate Japanese culture into your yard and bring some peace to your lifestyle. A Zen garden is a style of garden that utilizes sand, rocks or pebbles to mimic the shape and movement of water. Although they take some time and preparation to create, they are simple to maintain and are known for relaxing and healing the body, soul and mind when used.

Step 1

Decide how large you want your Zen garden to be. Average sizes are about 2 feet by 4 feet, so for a large one, you can double this size to create a Zen garden that is 4 feet by 8 feet. Make sure you have an area that can accommodate a garden this big, keeping in mind that a garden in this style should be located somewhere peaceful and quiet.

Step 2

Set each wooden board on its side (using two boards that are 4 feet long by 1 foot wide, and two more that are 8 feet long by 1 foot wide). It is ideal to initially set the boards up in your desired spot so you don't have to worry about transporting them. Use the hammer and 2 to 3-inch roundhead nails to secure the four boards together in a rectangular shape. Stain the wood or paint it with a neutral color if desired, then let it dry.

Step 3

Position the rectangle exactly how you want it, then lay the plastic tarp or sheeting inside of the box, tucking the tarp into the corners so that no weeds can grow up through them. The tarp will also contain the sand or pebbles you will place inside it, preventing a mess in your yard.

Step 4

Fill the Zen garden's rectangular wooden box up with sand (ideally white and made of crushed granite or shells). The layer should be at least 2 to 3 inches deep. Smooth it over with the rake to make it as even and level as possible. Add rocks and pebbles in various sizes, ranging from tiny to large. This addition all depends on what you want in the Zen garden. You want to make it into a relaxing and enjoyable environment for yourself, so try out different designs. For example, you can scatter them around to mimic a natural landscape, or cluster them in one area to represent a waterfall.

Step 5

Go back over the garden with the rake to create curving lines or circles that flow over the entire top of the sand to represent fluid movement and rippling water.

Step 6

Add items to your Zen garden to make yourself comfortable, such as a hammock, a comfortable chair or bench, or lush plants around the edges to make it a private sanctuary.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 wooden boards
  • Hammer
  • 2-3-inch roundhead nails, several
  • Rake
  • Tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Sand, rocks of various sizes, pebbles
  • Hammock or chair
  • Decorations, such as bamboo or other plants


  • Zen Garden Planning
  • Zen Garden Design and Building
  • Zen Garden Information
Keywords: large zen garden, zen garden design, garden design

About this Author

Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.