Bright & Cheerful Zen Garden Tutorial

March 15, 2013Allison Murray

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

I have some issues that I deal with all of the time. The best thing for me is basically keeping busy (which is why you see 5-6 craft projects a week coming out of me), but some things come to a head. One of the non-pharmaceutical ways I have of bringing things back down where they need to be on any random day is doodling. I’ll sit and doodle on my desk, a receipt, my sketchbook or whatever is handy and I’ve always found it soothing. Plus it is something I can easily concentrate on no matter what is happening around me.

This whole project came about when I saw a movie that someone else was watching from the 80s where a guy was raking his little zen garden and it looked so peaceful. Then I saw colored sand at the hobby store. Lightbulb!

For this project you will need:

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Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

They sell these awesome little squat vases at Wal-Mart in the decor part of the crafts area. I purchased the smaller of the two sizes they carried and it cost  me $4.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

I went to Lowe’s to find a baby succulent but the ones they carried were all pretty big and cost $5. I found this strawberry pot on clearance for $10. I took one fella’ out of the pot and turned the blank spot against a wall. This was a good option but I can’t count on you finding a clearance item.

So, I asked around and was told that your best shot of finding little cactuses or succulents are at bonafide plant nurseries or online through websites like Etsy (which I am taking word on and haven’t actually looked into myself).

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Carefully remove your plant. In this situation, getting the soil out with the guy wasn’t an option. If your plant is in a little pot, remove it and break up the shape of the pot to free the roots a bit.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Take the toe of a pair of hose and snip it off so that it is a few inches long.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Place the dirt end of your plant into the hose, or if you don’t have the soil, put your cactus or potting soil into the hose and then isnert the plant. Use a small stretch thing to tie the bag of soil onto the base of the plant (I used a cut hair tie). FYI as your plant grows you’ll need to accomodate it’s roots and increased girth.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Place your plant wherever you like and then pour your sand in around it. Fill until you fully cover your dirt bag and it is not visible.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Shake it like an Etch-a-Sketch to get a nice, smooth surface.

Cheer up your desk and make a bright and cheerful zen garden tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger

Grab just about anything around, like a pen or an unwound paper clip and doodle in the sand.I can’t even begin to tell you how nice and calming this is. When I finished mine up I drew in the sand for almost an hour and totally lost track of the time. It’s just so much fun!

While you’re reading this, I’m in my car with two little boys driving a 6 hour drive home to see my parents and having my ear talked off about visiting the ocean. I hope that you have big plans for your weekend, too! :)


Comments (17)

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    March 16, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    I feel calmer now just after reading this tutorial! And the purple is so stinkin' cool.
    Love it when our creating is therapeutic…both in the process and in the product. :-)

  • Allison Murray

    March 16, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    That means my work here is done, Lauren :)

  • Lbkuch

    March 16, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    Awesome. I was just in the pet store yesterday where I saw great sand colors for reptile habitats. I didn't note the price or whether it was some sort of special mix, but the colors were great. Really beautiful idea! Thank you.

  • Allison Murray

    March 17, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    In the event that the sand is really high, check Hobby Lobby if you have one nearby. They carry tons of colors for $2.50 for 1.5 pounds, I believe! Good luck…

  • Ella

    March 19, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    This is a cool tutorial, will definitely try out!

  • Sarah

    March 19, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    That's awesome! My brother's always coveting those mini zen gardens you can buy. I think I'll make him one of these instead :)

  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Yay, ladies! I am so glad that you've found the DIY as much fun as I have. It's so, so easy and I'm glad to have shared it with you :)

  • Trudy Lynn

    March 26, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    This is a great idea and I love the plant! I was thinking of other things you could add to it in addition to the plant or instead of the plant. Interesting rocks, seashells, a cute zen looking mini-statue. I thought of checking the aquarium section of the store for the little statues. Add your personal touch to a bamboo skewer for a more permanent tool to draw in the sand. Thanks for sharing such a great project idea with us. I love the purple also. :)

  • Allison Murray

    March 27, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Those are some great ideas, Trudy Lynn! I especially like the idea of looking in the aquarium department! The possibilities seem to be endless… Thanks so much for sharing :)

  • Melinda

    February 10, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Hi! Love this idea and am going to attempt to make one for one of my besties birthdays! Quick question? How do you water the cactus? Do you need to take it out of the coloured sand or can you water this kind of sand?
    Cheers

    1. Allison

      February 10, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      I would take it out of the sand and soak it in water for just a few minutes when it started looking weird. It worked really well until a cat tore up my poor plant :)

  • Elizbeth

    April 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Thank you for this great tutorial. I have follow your steps except the one that you use a hose. I planted my succulent in soil and added a thing layer of color sand on top. Now am faced with the problem how to water it. Any suggestions or should I just replant my succulent? I love how it looks in my office and I would be so sad if it died.

    1. Allison

      April 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      After talking with a gardener it may be acceptable to mist the plant itself a few times a week rather than traditionally watering it. Perhaps you can give that a go instead of having to replant?

  • 7 Colored Sand Crafts – blog.treetopia.com

    July 17, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    […] Allison Murray of Dream A Little Bigger crafted this little desktop sanctuary from purple colored sand, a clear glass dish, and a tiny succulent. Then, she spent a leisurely hour doodling on the sand – something we can’t wait to try! A panty hose or cheap tights can be cut at the ends and filled with potting soil for the plant, but Allison says this is optional. For detailed directions, visit her blog here. […]

  • Indoor Cool Cactus & Succulent Projects | The Garden Glove

    October 22, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    […] a little “Zen”? Put down those adult coloring books, and try out this bright and cheerful Zen garden from Allison at ‘Dream a Little Bigger’. Step by step photos, and you gotta love that […]

  • Matthew Brandt

    March 20, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    Amazing idea! Where do you find the colored sand? Will definitely give this a try, thank you for sharing!

    1. Allison Murray

      March 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

      You can find colored sand in the child crafting area of most craft stores!

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