Indoor zen gardens are a great way to bring the beauty and serenity of nature into your home. They are also beneficial for relaxation, mindfulness, and stress relief (Cunningham, 2016). This easy-to-follow guide will help you build an oasis of tranquility right in your living space!


Garden Design Principles


Austerity (Koko)


indoor zen garden


The overall look should be minimalistic and uncluttered. Sparse use of materials can create a calming effect. Choose natural items such as stones, rocks, and driftwood to fill your containers.


Simplicity (Kanso)


indoor zen garden (kanso)


Keep things simple and avoid overcrowding with too many plants or decorations. Focus on a small number of key elements such as moss, sand, or gravel to create visual balance.


Naturalness (Shinzen)


indoor zen garden (shinzen)

Aim for a natural looking design- make sure your garden looks like something you would find in nature. Avoid artificial materials such as plastic plants and bright colors.


Asymmetry (Fukinsei)


Indoor zen garden (Fukinsei)

Incorporate asymmetrical elements to add visual interest - alternatively, create an overlap of asymmetrical and symmetrical elements to create a balanced look.


Mystery or Subtlety (Yugen)


Indoor Zen Garden


Create depth by layering plants and materials, or use subtle design elements such as raked sand patterns to give your garden a dreamy feel.


Magical or Unconventional (Datsuzoku)

Indoor Zen Garden (Datsuzoku)


Sometimes it’s nice to break away from traditional rules and add some originality. This could be anything from adding a unique plant or decorative element to creating an unconventional landscape design.


Stillness (Seijaku)


Indoor Zen Garden (Seijaku)

The goal is to create a peaceful atmosphere within your zen garden - avoid noise producing elements like water fountains, wind chimes, etc. and focus on plants, stones, and other still elements to achieve a sense of tranquility.

These are just some basic guidelines you can use when designing your indoor zen garden. While you don't need to practice each of these principles, make a concerted effort to promote most of them (Loughrey, n.d.).


Container Selection

 Indoor Zen Garden (Container Selection)


When selecting a container for your garden, consider shallow containers with good drainage. Taller pots can be used if desired. However, shorter pots have the advantage of taking up less space and being easier to reach when it comes time to tend to your plants. Material selection also matters; wooden planters are great, but they require more maintenance than terra cotta or upcycled planters. Whatever material you choose, make sure it has good drainage so that water doesn’t accumulate in the soil and cause root rot.


Plant Selection

Indoor Zen Garden (Plant Selection)


The best plants for an indoor zen garden are low maintenance and thrive in low light. Some great options include azaleas, sedges, bamboo, ferns, mosses, and creeping ground covers. These plants will provide lush foliage and require minimal care to survive in your home. Additionally, some bonsai trees, such as ficus and juniper, are also great for an indoor zen garden. These trees offer a unique and beautiful aesthetic to the space.

Also, consider plants that promote relaxation and calm. Lavender, rosemary, chrysanthemum, snake plant, and jasmine are great choices for this purpose (Malin, 2021).


Decorative Elements

  1. Rocks, pebbles, and driftwood. These elements add texture to the space and provide visual interest.
  2. Small statues and sculptures can be added for a more whimsical touch. If you’re feeling creative, why not make a few of your own?
  3. Lanterns and candles. These will help to create an inviting atmosphere.
  4. Raked sand patterns. You can use a rake to create intricate designs in the sand that provide visual interest without taking up too much space. Purple pink garnet zen sand, Jurassic original zen sand, and Jurassic riverbed zen sand are some of the best sand options.
  5. Incense. This will help to create a warm, inviting atmosphere and promote relaxation. Essential oils can also be used for the same purpose.
  6. Wall art or canvas painting. This will help to tie the entire space together and provide a nice focal point.


Lighting Options


When it comes to lighting, you want to select areas that create a calming atmosphere. Soft white or yellow lights are best as they create a tranquil and inviting atmosphere. You can also hang string lights or paper lanterns to add a touch of whimsy.

Natural lighting also plays an important role in indoor zen gardens. When possible, find a spot near a window that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. This will ensure your plants get enough light and create a more pleasant atmosphere.

Keep in mind that not all plants need full sun - many are happy with partial or even low-light conditions.


Garden Maintenance


To keep your garden healthy, make sure to water your plants regularly. Additionally, prune away any dead or overgrown foliage and remove weeds as needed. Fertilize your plants every few months, and be sure to keep the soil clean. Finally, trimming tall plants will help maintain a uniform height throughout the garden.




Choose a space that is well-ventilated and receives plenty of natural light. Additionally, try to pick an area away from loud noises such as televisions, music, and traffic. This will help promote peace and serenity in the space.

Finally, consider incorporating your indoor zen garden into your home’s existing decor. This can be done through subtle design elements, such as the choice of containers and decorative accessories, or more dramatic ones, such as wall murals.


Final Thoughts


With the advent of technology, it can be hard to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Creating a zen garden in your home provides a peaceful refuge from the chaos. Through careful planning and a bit of creativity, you can create a space of beauty and relaxation. So take a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature, right in your own home. 




Cunningham, E. (2016). Cultivating enlightenment: The manifold meaning of Japanese zen gardens. Traditional and Contemporary Asia: Numbers, Symbols, and Colors, 21(3).

Loughrey, J. (n.d). Zen garden ideas: Add some zen to your landscape. Garden Design.,or%20all%20of%20these%20concepts

Malin, Z. (2021). How to create a Japanese zen garden, according to experts. NBC News. 


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