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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 26, 2002

Zen gardens: Sand-filled boxes of relaxation

By Kathy Cano-Murillo
Arizona Republic

A homemade zen garden can be a good way to unwind and de-stress.

Gannett News Service

After a week of stressful activities, the thought of relaxation time sounds pretty good. However, if you are out of Calgon bath beads and the balance in your checkbook rules out a day spa, a clever alternative will have to do.

This miniature meditation garden will do the trick. These soothing, sand-filled boxes often are found at high-end shops and chic gallery stores. They also are sold as pricey do-it-yourself kits. Here is one example of how to assemble your own dry garden as a gift, or to keep in a special area of your home.

The idea is to focus on creating balance and harmony with the use of a small rake, sand and rocks. I used three rocks and one item for a focal point. However, the possibilities are nearly endless. Gather several rocks in diagonal corners, or use seashells and starfish for a beach theme.

There are no rules, just as long as it helps you relax.

Playing in a sandbox helps relieve stress. Paint and decorate a tray, fill with sand, rocks and perhaps a pagoda, and rake to your heart's content.

Zen meditation garden


  • 1 wood serving tray (9 1/2 by 13 inches)
  • patina paint set
  • stencil brush
  • Asian-inspired coins or accessories
  • hot glue
  • 2 strings of gold-tone beads
  • 3 pounds of craft sand
  • 1 Asian-inspired focal point
  • 3 rocks
  • small rake or miniature back-scratcher
  • Directions:

Stipple the tray with layers of patina paints, using the stencil brush, and let dry. Affix the coins to the sides of the tray with hot glue. Repeat process to add beads around the top of the tray. Pour in sand and shake tray until the sand settles evenly. Turn tray lengthwise, and place focal point at the top.

Add the rocks in a balanced design. Use the rake or back-scratcher to make patterns and lines in the sand.