How to Build Zen Gardens


A Zen garden is an ideal addition to any landscape, especially if you are trying to create a peaceful and meditation period to your space or lifestyle. A Zen garden is typically a Japanese-style garden that utilizes rocks, sand, and smooth elements to represent the movement of water. Zen gardens are easy to maintain, and can be a retreat for you during stressful, or even calm, times.

Step 1

Decide what size you want your Zen garden to be. They can range from being small to large, depending on the available space you may have. The key to remember when deciding where to place your Zen garden is that is should be somewhere quiet and peaceful, away from the view of noisy traffic or tall buildings. An ideal size is the area bounded by four wooden boards that are 2 feet by 4 feet. Bring your supplies to the area you want the Zen garden to be, so after you construct it you don't have to transport it anywhere.

Step 2

Put each wooden board on its side. Secure the four boards together into a rectangular shape using the two-inch nails and a hammer. Stain or paint the wood if desired and let dry overnight.

Step 3

Smooth the black plastic tarp or plastic sheeting inside of the Zen garden box, tucking the tarp into each corner. Keep in mind that this tarp is to help hold in sand and pebbles, and keep vegetation out. Secure it to the wood with the nails on all sides.

Step 4

Pour sand into your Zen garden within about three inches of the top edge. The sand is usually white, and should be level. Place and organize smooth rocks and pebbles in various shapes and sizes around the area of the Zen garden in a way that suits you and makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. This may take some time with trial and error. Try out different designs, like creating the illusion of a waterfall by swirling rocks in patterns. Keep in mind that the garden should have a natural flow of energy, not just be cluttered with objects.

Step 5

Create a long, curvy lines in the sand with a rake, making long, fluid movements to mimic water flow.

Step 6

Make sure you have an area by your Zen garden where you can sit and relax, like a bench, hammock or blanket spread on the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 wooden boards
  • Hammer
  • 2-inch roundhead nails
  • Rake
  • Tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Sand, rocks of various sizes, pebbles


  • Building a Zen Garden
  • Build a Zen Garden Box
Keywords: zen garden design, building a zen garden, zen gardens

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.