Which mini zen gardens are best?
If you want to add a sense of peace and tranquility to your home or office, consider a mini zen garden. Also known as Japanese rock gardens, these miniature landscapes are meant to demonstrate the essence of the natural world, using sand, stones and plants to inspire feelings of serenity and contemplation. No two mini zen gardens are alike, but for a simple kit with a bamboo tray and all of the essentials, the Hubert & Quinn Japanese Zen Garden for Desk is a top choice.
What to know before you buy a mini zen garden
What are zen gardens?
Zen gardens have existed in Japan for centuries, usually constructed near Buddhist monasteries or temples. These rock gardens are traditionally full of gravel or sand and are enclosed by a low wall. Monks, worshippers and other caretakers of zen gardens use a rake to draw swirling or line patterns on the surface of the sand. These designs usually represent water or wind and encourage a meditative state.
Zen gardens have been used by people from all walks of life to inspire focus and reduce stress. Although no training is required to use a mini zen garden, understanding the symbolism behind the arrangements and scenery can make your rock garden experience particularly rewarding.
Symbolism and arrangements
Mini zen garden kits usually come with a rake, a packet of sand or gravel, stones and decor like bridges or miniature buildings. Some gardens may even feature bonsai trees or bits of moss. All of these items can be arranged any way you’d like, but it’s helpful to understand that each of these components have their own symbolic meaning. Patterns in the sand are often drawn with the rake to symbolize water or wind, while rocks can be arranged to represent mountains and islands.
You can also use your wooden rake to create abstract designs and patterns in the sand that have no explicit meaning. One popular arrangement is a carefully placed stone in the center of the garden with concentric circles in the sand surrounding it.
What to look for in a quality mini zen garden
Sand vs. gravel
Most zen gardens will come with a small bag of gravel or sand. Gravel is usually used in traditional Japanese rock gardens so the patterns won’t be disturbed by the wind, but miniature gardens can use either material. Sand is better for drawing intricate patterns, but keep in mind that it’s messier than gravel, particularly if you work alongside children or pets.
Decor and aesthetic
Mini zen gardens can come with a wide variety of different decor options depending on your garden’s theme. Some novelty gardens may resemble beaches or deserts and include mini umbrellas or cacti, while traditional products may feature pagodas, bonsai trees or mini Buddha statues. Consider whether you want a zen garden that’s minimalist or full of fun, decorative items.
The vast majority of mini zen gardens will come with a small wooden rake that can be used to create patterns in the sand. Certain gardens may come with bonus tools like brushes for sweeping away small grains or a spatula-like tool for smoothing the surface of the garden.
How much you can expect to spend on a mini zen garden
The cost of a mini zen garden can vary depending on its size and the quality of its parts. Most consumers can expect to pay around $15–$40 for a garden that includes all of the essential components.
Mini zen garden FAQ
What’s the point of a zen garden?
A. Zen gardens are meant to be used as a place you can go to for meditation, eliminating the distractions of the outside world and soothing the mind through repetitive and simple motions, like raking sand.
Where should I put my mini zen garden?
A. Put your mini zen garden somewhere that’s visible and accessible, like your bedroom or the desk in your office. You can also keep your mini zen garden in a communal living space to encourage mindfulness for the whole family.
What’s the best mini zen garden to buy?
Top mini zen garden
What you need to know: This simple garden kit comes with white sand and a unique bamboo fence.
What you’ll love: Particularly compact and portable, this mini zen garden uses natural stones to encourage meditation and includes decorations like a bridge and lantern tower. The eco-friendly company also minimizes its use of single-use plastic in its products.
What you should consider: A few users wished that this zen garden came with more sand.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top mini zen garden for the money
What you need to know: This affordable zen garden comes in three different shapes and is the perfect size for most desks.
What you’ll love: This minimalist garden kit is compact and portable, with a relatively deep enclosure and decor like an artificial succulent, a miniature pagoda and four natural river stones. A generous amount of white sand is also included.
What you should consider: The rake and all of the decor (excluding the rocks) are made out of plastic.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Mini zen garden worth checking out
What you need to know: This comprehensive set comes with an incense burner and tons of garden tools and accessories.
What you’ll love: This unique mini zen garden has three compartments and high-quality accessories like miniature fish and a faux mossy plant. Two types of stones are included, in addition to three garden tools and a sturdy wooden base.
What you should consider: A couple of users thought that the wooden base wasn’t deep enough.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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