Garden Sand: Recreate The Japanese Gardens In 6 Steps

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Last Updated on April 25, 2022 by Fabiola L.

Garden sand is a crucial part of your beloved plants’ drainage, porosity, and well-being. But there’s one more reason you should consider adding sand. If you’re mesmerized by the calmness of the Japanese gardens, garden sand is the shortcut to recreating them!

Garden sand is a particular type of sand that has been washed, sanitized, and stored correctly. It doesn’t contain any pathogens, so it’s entirely safe for use around your landscape.

If you’re keen on recreating the dry landscape of the Japanese gardens, keep reading.

What Is Garden Sand

Sand is an inevitable part of the soil; it helps the plant receive more air and retain less moisture. Heavy soils like clay can use a portion of sand as it prevents clumping and lets air and water penetrate deeper. This makes the soil suitable for planting regular plants and vegetables.

Unlike play sand or construction sand, the garden sand shouldn’t be too fine. Coarse sand is perfect for your garden, especially if you plan on creating turf. But that’s not its only use. Sand on top of the soil is a decorative way to upscale your garden.

What Is Garden Sand

Garden Sand Use

You can add garden sand to pots where you’ve planted top-heavy plants to keep them from tipping over. You can improve drainage in certain spots in the garden that tend to have standing water.

Make sure to use special sand that’s been treated correctly to prevent bringing disease to your plants. Or, you can use sand as a decorative part of your landscape to mimic water waves. Here’s the history behind the dry landscapes.

Japanese Zen Gardens

Dry landscape, zen garden, Japanese garden, or Karesansui gardens date back to the 11th century. Ancient Japanese garden manuals describe this way of gardening as a way to symbolize purity and create a calm spot for meditation. They originated in the 6th century and for a long time were used around temples and monasteries.

But then zen gardens came along, and here garden sand represents water, distance, and emptiness. Each zen garden is unique and adapted to the owner or user.

Parts Of A Zen Garden

Garden sand is one of the main but not the only components that go into a zen garden. Gravel, some small rocks, plants, and wood are the natural elements. You can also add bridges, lanterns, or other architectural pieces. Water in any form, like fountains, is not part of a zen garden.

Japanese gardeners used walls to separate this section and keep it calm. You can use another form of barrier like a wood fence.

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Are Zen Gardens Stone Gardens?

It’s worth mentioning that the stone gardens belong to the Chinese tradition. They stacked stones in an effort to create a dry mountain range. Chiese gardens don’t include sand. They use water, plants, and some other elements like bridges and small houses.

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Turn Your Garden Into A Zen Paradise

Put garden sand to good use and create your own serenity space in your backyard. How to make a sand garden from scratch?

  1. Start by choosing a good spot. It has to be flat, not very spacious but make sure to measure it out. You want to make a plan of what you can fit in there. Zen gardens are not crowded.
  2.  Search for inspiration, but be realistic about what you can make or get. Refer to the guiding principles of zen gardens. They suggest the garden needs to be natural, simple, unique, calm, asymmetric, and subtle.
  3. Do a rough sketch and get to work. But be flexible if you can’t fit everything you had in mind. If you’re adding other elements, make sure they’re in scale with your garden. Make sure to pick suitable plants that are not very tall or well pruned. Have a plan on how to water them.
  4. Pick a good shade of garden sand. Zen gardens usually use light beige sand, but you can use light grey too. Get a rake that you will use for shaping and maintaining the sand.
  5. But what sand can you use in the garden? Any garden sand! Just choose a lighter shade if you can. Zen gardens usually use light beige sand, but you can use light grey too.
  6. Get rakes that you will use for shaping and maintaining the sand. You will need a broad and a narrow tooth rake. Add a dim light like a small lamp and a sitting place, and you’ve created your own zen garden with garden sand!

Maintaining A Zen Garden

Zen gardens are easy to upkeep, and the whole process is very calming. Garden sand had high porosity, so it dries well after rain. All you need to do is reshape it with your rake.

Use the rake to remove any fallen leaves. Water and prune the plants in the zen garden often. Remove any weeds that start to grow among the rocks or sand.

Read more about Traditional Greek Flowers

Making A Desktop Zen Garden

When you don’t have the space, a small, desktop zen garden can be a good option. You can find these sets online or in-store, and they come with a small rake to shape the sand. Where to buy zen garden sand? Anywhere, from Amazon to your nearest garden center. You can even find 20oz bags for a smaller garden.

Small zen gardens are even easier to make. Here’s a simple guide

  • Use a shallow container, terracotta, or wood would be best. Don’t use plastic.
  • Make a plan where you will position greenery, moss, or some succulent.
  • Add the plants and your garden sand. Use some pebbles around the edges. Form your path using a tiny rake.
  • Add some miniature figures like smooth stones, crystals, or wooden birds.
Making A Desktop Zen Garden

Bottom Line: Zen Garden Sand

Once you’re done adding garden sand to your soil to improve its quality, it’s time to use it in landscaping. Zen gardens are one of the ancient spots where monks used to go to meditate and pray. They’re serene, pristine, and low maintenance. Creating a zen garden can become your new hobby.

All you need is a plan, some garden sand, and a few decorations!


Where to buy zen garden sand?

Amazon, other online retailers and garden centers are the best spot to look for garden sand. Mention that you need the sand for a zen garden so they can recommend you a suitable kind.

How to make a sand garden?

Choose a flat spot in your garden and sketch the garden. Make sure to make it calming, natural, unique, and not crowded. Cover the ground with light-colored garden sand, add plants to scale, rocks, and a sitting spot.

What sand can you use in the garden?

You can use garden sand that's been treated to prevent transferring any pathogens, microorganisms, and diseases to your plants. Don't use play sand, or sterilize it before using.

Read more about Top 6 Choices Of The Best Sand For Gardening – Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Perfect Sand

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