Japanese zen garden
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Category Gardening & Environment | Skills: Skill | Author: Moviéndote | Language : Language | Difficulty level : Medium | Time : 60min Share Take Challenge Add Activity

Japanese rock gardens, often called a zen garden, creates a miniature stylized landscape through carefully composed arrangements of rocks, water features, moss, pruned trees and bushes, and uses gravel or sand that is raked to represent ripples in water. They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life. Through this activity you will learn how to create your own small zen garden!


The activity shall be implemented in 4 stages:

  • Prepare all the materials needed beforehand.
  • Research about Japanese rock gardens.
  • Plan and follow the instructions carefully.
  • Create your own zen garden.  


Learning objectives

You will learn:

  • How to work with spatial calculations.
  • How to work with angles.
  • How to work with exact measures.
  • How to work with multiplications and divisions.
  • How to browse on the net with different search engines.


Skills addressed

After completing the activity, you will achieve the following skills:

  • Make simple estimations and work with scales.
  • Improve your gardening abilities.
  • Develop ICT research skills.
  • Learn about Japanese rock gardens.
  • Use your imagination for decoration.



After completing the activity, the learners will acquire the following competences:

  • Careful reading in order to avoid any possible mistake.
  • Decision making and reflection.
  • Capacity to put in practice a theoretical research using ICT methodologies.
  • Gardening competences.
  • Creativity.
  • Organization, planning and development of the whole creation process.


Material required

  • Wood planks: 84,5 cm long and 14.5 cm wide, so two pieces of 42 cm each. Two pieces of 29 cm for the box legs and another 4 pieces to make the perimeter of the container
  • Sand or gravel
  • Small rocks
  • A fork/ small rake
  • Decoration elements desired


How to create your own zen garden?


1. Prepare the materials you will need to use to develop the activity starting by the recipient. You need to decide how big you want to make it according to your available space, the above measures are an example, you can decide to make it bigger to smaller by dividing or multiplying those references. The only requirement is that it should be a rectangle with some, a small container. You can create the with any type of wood.

2. Sand can be bought in pet shops, some gardening stores or aquarium supply stores. In case you want to use grave, you can also try in rock shop, quarry or landscaping supplier.

3. Do you know what are Japanese gardens for? Why they look like they do? Which is their origin? You need to answer to those questions before starting your project, to better understand the concept. Research on the net!

There are many search engines apart from Google. To make a research in one of those, you just need to open a Mozilla, Explorer or any browser not depending on Google. Write the text and then, below the most common option, there are small icons on different browsers such as Bing, Yahoo… You will see that the results in each browser are different and with a different order: they use different algorithms and therefore, the results are different.

4. You should also research and decide the decoration. Although you will see that traditional Japanese rock gardens have some traditional decoration and they are somehow minimalists, you can decorate it as you wish!



1. First of all, you need to prepare the mold. Make sure you have the correct measures.  It is important that the edges are tall and strong enough to withstand with the content. It should be 90º perfect angle (which is also called right angle), You can choose to nail, screw or glue it together.

2. We recommend you to put a weed retainer such as plastic in order to keep it as clean as possible. You can also paint the wood in order to customize your zen garden and make it more personal.

Image by https://m.wikihow.com/Create-a-Zen-Garden

3. Then fill the form with sand or gravel. It should be as level as possible. You can use a spoon or carton to do so.

4. Start decorating. Japanese rock gardens normally do not have a lot of decoration, but this is up to you. As you probably discovered in your research, they generally include natural elements such as vegetation. Collocate the small rocks and the decoration elements you wish as you want, but they should look peaceful and visually stimulating.  

Image by http://www.glazer.info/Jardines-Zen-Miniatura.html

 Image by http://satuska.co/miniature-asian-garden/

5. Rake the sand with the help of fork or small rake. You can use different patters in the same garden. During the research you probably learnt that patterns have different meanings. Take it into account!

One of the best thins about these small zen gardens is that you can remake them as many times as you want, changing them completely and offering you a relaxing experience!


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