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Most rakes are made up of two interlocking cylinders (the handle and the head), with prongs coming out of the head. You use the prongs to draw out waves, and the cylindrical end to rub them out.
If you want a really smooth surface to work with, see if the set includes a giant T-shaped rake. Or, if you want to design your own patterns–drawing out swirls or the petals of a flower–look for a pointed pen.
We know you’re tempted to go for fine grains that feel like silk under your fingers. But, remember, these gardens are desktop. Indoors. If the sand’s too light, it’ll fly out of the box at the slightest breeze. Bigger grains are heavier and easier to shape. It’s also a bonus if the set comes with extra sand because you do lose some over time.
Magnetic sand’s also making an appearance. It’s a break from tradition, but building gardens in three dimensions is quite absorbing.
If your desk looks like a tornado’s been through, then you’ll have to settle for a matchbox garden–smaller than 5 by 5 inches, maybe. If you’ve got the room though, bigger is better. There’s more space to rake and draw. We’ve found that gardens 7 by 7 inches and above are the most satisfying.
The same goes for shape. Narrow gardens are easy to squeeze along the edge of a desk and seem to take up less room. Square ones are more prominent, but allow you more freedom when designing.
Circular ones are also lovely to draw on, and the lack of sharp edges somehow makes everything even more calming. But since you can’t push them up against walls, they take up the most space.
Some gardens come with holders for incense or tealight candles, if you want to attain inner peace through your nose. You can find your favorite scents and just inhale as you quietly tend to your garden.
You can also get extra figures–ceramic animals, for example, or Buddha statues. The animals often symbolize different meanings: cranes for luck and longevity, oxen for strength. The image of a meditating Buddha inspires tranquility and contemplation.
And for beach-dwellers: there’s now tabletop Zen gardens with little umbrellas and pails and shovels. It’s not the most Buddhist, per se, but if it calms you down, who’s to judge?
Click to purchase
Toysmith Deluxe Zen Garden
Sand for Contemplation, Cranes for Longevity, a Book of Quotes for Inspiration
ICNBUYS Zen Garden with Boat Bridge Japanese Censers Set
Personalize the Garden with Many, Many Figures and Designs
We pay your sales tax
We Pay Your Sales Tax Tabletop Zen Garden Home Decor Gift
Enjoy the Aroma of Incense with a Miniature Buddha
Be Good Company
Be Good Company Executive Sandbox – A Day at the Beach
A Cute and Lighthearted Beach Getaway
Wonderful Zen Deluxe Wooden Zen Sand Garden
Draw Anything You Wish in the Sand
fengshuisale Feng Shui Zen Garden
A Small Shrine to Provide Peace of Mind
Paintspiration Handmade Natural Mini Zen Garden Kit
Quietly Stack the Pebbles and Draw in the Sand
Gifts & Decor
Gifts & Decor Tabletop Zen Garden Kit
Soft Candlelight, Smooth Pebbles, White Sand: Three Forms of Relaxation
Toysmith Mini Zen Garden
The Serenity of Buddhism, the Size of a Cellphone
SPACECARE Magnetic Zen Sand Garden Box Set
Magnetic Sand: Build Your Garden in Three Dimensions
There’s a divider in the middle. You can fill the entire thing with sand, or half with sand and half with pebbles, mimicking the circle of yin and yang.
You can mindlessly rake at the sand or shovel bits into the little pail (apparently, an addicting pastime). The sand, by the way, is soft, lovely to touch, and the seashells realistic. The hardwood’s a good quality, so no sand comes leaking out.
It doesn’t come with a candle, so add your favorite scented tealight and indulge in the aromatherapy, or find an artificial one and watch the lights flickering at night.
Sometimes, it takes more than a Zen garden to help you keep your cool. Here are some suggestions for other serenity-inducing products!
No. 1: Toysmith｜Toysmith Deluxe Zen Garden
No. 2: ICNBUYS｜ICNBUYS Zen Garden with Boat Bridge Japanese Censers Set
No. 3: We pay your sales tax｜We Pay Your Sales Tax Tabletop Zen Garden Home Decor Gift
No. 4: Be Good Company｜Be Good Company Executive Sandbox – A Day at the Beach
No. 5: Wonderful Zen｜Wonderful Zen Deluxe Wooden Zen Sand Garden
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