A sand garden, sometimes called a Japanese rock garden or zen garden, is simple and inexpensive to make, especially if you make a miniature version for indoors. A sand garden provides decoration, but it also relieves stress as you "play in the sand."
Step 1 - Choose a Theme
What is the purpose of your sand garden? What room will it be in? Who will be using it and looking at it the most? Consider these questions as you choose the theme.
If you want a garden to relieve stress, choose a Zen theme. Keep it simple with a plain box, sand, rocks, and a rake. Are you going to put it in the bathroom that already has a tropical theme? Then add a miniature umbrella that you swiped from a pina colada at a restaurant. Going to put it in a children's room? Create a little sandbox with a miniature toy dump truck.
Step 2 - Prepare the Container
If you have chosen an unfinished container, you may want to paint it. Make sure you clean it thoroughly and that it is dry from water or paint before adding sand. Choose one at least two inches deep, like a ceramic bowl or planter, a wooden or glass tray, a jewelry or shadow box.
Step 3 - Add the Sand
Prepare sand before adding. If you have taken natural sand from the outdoors, sift through it for bugs or other unwanted materials. Indulge your sense of smell by adding several drops of your favorite essential scented oil to the sand. Shake it up in a separate container before placing it in the container.
You can get sand at a beach, or purchase it from a craft or gardening store. Consider decorative or colored sand, although most sand gardens use a simple white or natural sand. If going with a Zen theme, the sand symbolizes water.
Step 4 - Make the Rake
The rake is an important addition to the garden. It can be used to make designs in the sand and then turned over to erase those designs. You can make your own from small twigs or dowel rods (1/8-inch, ¼-inch, ½-inch in diameter), knife and wood glue.
Cut the larger twig or dowel rod into a 4-inch piece, the medium size to about 1½ inches, and the small size into 4 separate ½-inch pieces.
Glue it all together. The large piece is the handle, the middle the base, and the smallest the tines. Cut notches (or drill) into the wood where you want to apply glue to make the rake more stable.
Step 5 - Place the Rocks and Other Items
Keeping your theme in mind, place the rocks and other toys in your sand garden. Now it's time to play. You can source pebbles and rocks from your yard or any nearby wilderness, or you can buy polished colored ones. For a Zen sand garden, the rocks symbolize mountains and islands.
Tips and Ideas
You can pick a scented oil to match your theme, like a salty ocean scent to go with a beach theme. You can make wet sand by mixing in some essential oils if you want to make sandcastles or other designs with your sand.
Sand gardens can make a fun personalized gift. Store the sand in a jar or plastic baggie during transportation.