How to Make a Mini Modern Zen Garden

Looking for a beautiful modern and mini zen garden? Want to add a touch of green and a big splash of bright color to any space?  I love to position unusual tropical and desert plants inside various containers to create small, fascinating worlds. And they’re simple and fun to create!

~ Mini Modern Zen Garden ~

Did you ever make sand art as a kid–you know, where you poured layers of colored sand one by one into a clear glass or plastic vessel and then poked around the edges of the vessel to make designs? Well, this is kind of like the adult version of that because you get to pour and shift colored sand into place and make designs in it, but you get a chic result this time!

Make a Mini Modern Zen Garden - {My Life Space Moments}


This look can be achieved with:

  • A small glass bowl
  • Colored sand
  • A single small  plant
  • Potting soil

According to

  • “Choose plants that are small enough for your terrarium. You don’t want the plants‘ leaves to touch the sides of the container. Succulents and cacti can grow in a terrarium, but it’s best to use an open container that will retain less humidity.
  • Succulents and cacti can grow in a terrarium, but it’s best to use an open container that will retain less humidity. You should also add some sand to the potting mix to mimic the plants’ native environment.”

How to Make a Modern Zen Garden - {My Life Space Moments}


Here are the steps I took:

  1. Clean your selected vessel. I used the Tilt Handmade Small Bowl from Crate & Barrel to give it the fun and funky modern feel, and the large vessel opening is perfect for the cactus since it allows for greater evaporation. I cleaned it with glass cleaner on the outside and then water and a paper towel on the inside just to be sure I didn’t harm the plant.
  2. Prepare your plant’s environment. Since I selected a cactus (from IKEA with hot pink spikes or “glochids”), I made sure to have excellent drainage by starting with an inch-thick layer of rocks and then adding the potting material and plant over top. Since the soil should be porous, I assumed it was best and easiest to use the potting soil that came with the plant.
  3. Top it off with your favorite color of sand*. I have read that you want to use horticulture-grade sand when making your own potting mix, but I’m operating under the assumption that if my sand is placed on top of the appropriate potting soil that the cactus will be fine. Therefore, I used a craft sand based off of (my assumption of what I think they are using in) the fun cactus garden projects I’ve seen pictures of online, and my cactus is alive and well. It seems to me that cacti can survive in appropriate potting soil beneath this non-horticulture grade sand, but I may find out I’m wrong over time, at which point I’ll update you here.
  4. Create your zen design. You can use a stylus or a retractable ink pen to create your fancy designs in the sand! Or you can make a zen rake which seems like great fun too if you have a a larger zen “sandbox” or space to play in.

* Alternative to Sand: You may also consider using aquarium rock gravel in place of sand. It seems I may have another project in order since I can’t get enough of making succulent scapes! [I thought I may have coined that phrase just there but I googled it and alas others have thought to call them succulent scapes before. Doh!]

Do let me know what you think of this and/or how your own zen projects turn out! And don’t miss…

How to Create a Lovely Succulent Garden | {My Life Space Moments} —View or Pin Me!
How to Create a Vertical Succulent Garden | {My Life Space Moments}
How to Create a Vertical Succulent Garden | {My Life Space Moments} —View or Pin Me!

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  1. I love this!! Such a great idea!

    1. Ashley Renee says:

      Thanks, Mel!! I appreciate you stopping by!

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