Sometimes, life feels like a game of whack-a-mole. You finish one thing, and something else pops up. You finish that thing, and then something else pops up. It’s a frustrating, dizzying, tear-inducing game, and you need to stop. Relax. Gaze upon a mini Zen garden.
There’s something about ripples–maybe the way they seem to just flow on forever, freely–that’s supremely calming. This, all Zen gardens have in common. But–and here, we return to the practical side of things–every kit has its own features: from the kind of sand and rocks used to what little statues are included. Only once you know what’s out there (and know yourself) can you find the garden that speaks most directly to you.
How to Choose a Desktop Zen Garden – Buying Guide
And now we begin our quest for the best desktop Zen garden. Let’s contemplate together the components, size, and features each of these kits has to offer.
Will You Draw Only Waves or Express Yourself in Many Patterns? Rakes
First off, all rakes need to be a practical size. There’s no “magic measurement” though–they just need to be a good deal smaller than your garden. Too large, and you can’t maneuver them into ripples and swirls.
Most rakes are make 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.
If You Don’t Want It Flying out of the Box, Look for Bigger Grains: Sand
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.
Where Are You Going to Put the Thing? Shape and Size
If your desk looks like a tornado’s been through, then you’ll have to settle for a matchbox garden–smaller than 5″ x 5″, 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″ x 7″ 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.
A Little Buddha Statue? Incense? Beach Umbrella? Themes and Extra Features
Traditional Zen gardens use rocks to represent islands and mountains. If you want to be faithful to this practice, look for sets with stones to scatter throughout the sand. If the pebbles are smooth and you’re a fiddler, it’s also calming to run your fingers over them.
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?
Top 10 Best Desktop Zen Gardens to Buy Online
So, now you know the subtle things that make one desktop Zen garden different from another, it’s time for you to get choosing. Here are ten little gardens that we found both calming and adorable.
10. SPACECARE Magnetic Zen Sand Garden Box Set
Magnetic Sand: Build Your Garden in 3-Dimensions
Let’s break from tradition a bit. With magnetic sand, you can build in three dimensions, and there’s something immensely freeing about that. With the kit, you get four magnets, as well as two shovels and a rake. The tools, though, are honestly a bit too big for the box, and they’re awkward to move around. But use them anyway, because the iron filings will stain your fingers.
Another thing: there’s not quite enough sand for the box, which measures around 10.5″ x 8.5″. If you mindlessly run your rake through the garden, you’ll scrape bottom (which might end up grating on your nerves). What appealed to us most here, we guess, was the novelty.
9. Toysmith Mini Zen Garden
The Serenity of Buddhism, the Size of a Cellphone
This garden takes “mini” to the next level. It’s 4″ x 3″ and literally fits in your palm–so if you’ve got a tiny, cluttered desk, then this is the one to go for. (It’ll bring you some calm in the middle of all that chaos, too.) It’s small, but as long as you take everything out of it, you can rake through the sand and feel lighter.
Or, you can rearrange the stones–they’re smooth and wonderful to fiddle with–and pagodas. Stand the ceramic crane (a symbol of longevity and good luck) in the corner, and let it watch over everything. For such a tiny little thing, this gardens packs a lot of serenity.
8. Gifts & Decor Tabletop Zen Garden Kit
Soft Candlelight, Smooth Pebbles, White Sand: Three Forms of Relaxation
We love the soft white candle-holder, and the long, interrupted rectangle of sand you can pull the rake through again and again. We also love the pebbles; it’s calming to run your fingers over them. 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.
The materials, though, are not expensive. (It’s ten bucks; what can you expect?) The base chips easily, and the candle-holder is chalky. One of the large rocks is wax, and the rake is plastic–which does detract from this whole Zen-garden-as-gateway-to-nature thing.
7. Paintspiration Handmade Natural Mini Zen Garden Kit
Quietly Stack the Pebbles and Draw in the Sand
The pebbles were what got us. They’re flat and smooth, which is what makes them perfect for stacking. (And stacking is so soothing–think back to building Lego towers as a kid.) The sand’s not ultra-fine, so it won’t go flying everywhere, and some larger granules are mixed in, adding to the effortless and naturalness of the piece.
The tray, however, is plastic. But it is textured, so it doesn’t look quite as man-made. The entire thing’s about 8″ x 7″; it’ll be tough to squeeze on a cluttered desk, but at least there’s plenty of room to run the rake over. It’s lovely during long phone calls, because it’s so easy to just mindlessly draw waves or checkers in the sand, or make a rock tower.
6. fengshuisale Feng Shui Zen Garden
A Small Shrine to Provide Peace of Mind
The centerpiece is the incense burner, which will waft peace through your room. (It is small, though, so you’ll need to buy short sticks.) The lotuses, which symbolize divine birth, also hold tealight candles. The light looks lovely flickering off the bronze of the figures. The pieces are all solid too, and the base is quite large (14″ x 5″).
The only thing is, once you put all the pieces in, you don’t have much room to rake. (A rake is included, though.) And since it’s such a narrow piece, there’s not much rearranging to do either. It’s a visual piece, really–fiddlers will have to turn elsewhere.
5. Wonderful Zen Deluxe Wooden Zen Sand Garden
Draw Anything You Wish in the Sand
Draw to your heart’s content. You get six rakes with this set–all of them made from smooth bamboo. They’re small enough and easy to push around the garden. Create waves and ripples with the prongs, swirls with the pen, and erase everything with the T. And the entire time, you’ve got a Buddha watching over you in a state of serenity.
The base itself is wooden, about 7″ x 8.5,”so you’ve got a large space to play with. Group the rocks in different places, move the pot around, and lose yourself for hours.
4. Be Good Company Executive Sandbox – A Day at the Beach
A Cute, Lighthearted Beach Getaway
If you’re from the golden coast of California or the beaches of Florida, this may be what brings you peace. Zen gardens are austere, but this sandbox is light, fun, and wonderful at relieving stress. 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’s about 8″ x 9″. More than a traditional garden, the kit feels like a “toy”–the bucket and the tools are all plastic and brightly painted. You might find it cute; you might find it kitsch; it’s a matter of personal preference, really.
3. We Pay Your Sales Tax Tabletop Zen Garden Home Decor Gift
Enjoy the Aroma of Incense with a Miniature Buddha
It’s about the size of a volume of Harry Potter, and sits well on a bookshelf or desk. It comes with an incense holder, so you can waft serenity throughout the room. A Buddha sits with his eyes closed, prompting meditation. 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.
There’s actually not quite enough sand, though–but that may be an excuse to go the beach and pick some off the shore. Actually, because the sand it comes with has the color and consistency of salt (a bit off-putting, we know), some reviewers just supplemented it with Morton’s.
2. ICNBUYS Zen Garden with Boat Bridge Japanese Censers Set
Personalize the Garden with Many, Many Figures and Designs
This set doesn’t quite capture the Buddhist concept of “mu”–nothingness. There’s just so much: two bridges, an aged trunk, a rock, a censer, and (fake) foliage. But it’s so quieting to rearrange the pieces over and over and revel in the variation. There’s three rakes too: a pronged, a pen, and a giant T. You can draw whatever designs in the sand you want, erase, and draw again.
The sand’s a pure white–soft, a nice texture, but not fine enough to get everywhere. And if this set doesn’t speak to you, ICNBUYS also has other variations–with round or rectangular bases; brown, black, or white sand; cranes, lotuses, or buffalo. It doesn’t get much more personal than this.
1. Toysmith Deluxe Zen Garden
Sand for Contemplation, Cranes for Longevity, a Book of Quotes for Inspiration
Let’s start with everything not-Zen about this garden. The sand’s a little powdery, so it kind of sticks to the tools, and when you rake too enthusiastically, flies out of the box in poofs. It’s a bit hard to draw lasting patterns. And the bristles in the straw tool come out.
So what is Zen? It’s so fun to play with. The wood’s a pretty cherry and draws you in. Everyone–co-workers, students, and patients–fiddles around with it, rearranging the pebbles, drawing with the rakes, lining up the tools. And they all visibly relax. There’s also two graceful little cranes and a book of inspirational quotes. When everything comes to a fever pitch, it’ll remind you to breathe.
Serenity, religion, and rest can feel very distant from the roar of everyday life. These Zen gardens aren’t much, they’ll help you take a breather. Whether it be the contemplative face of the Buddha, the aroma of incense, or the look of a sandy beach, we hope you found what slows down your pulse and makes you happy. Go forth, grasshopper.
If you’re just getting into gardening, you’ll probably need to pick up a few different tools, and the easiest way to do so is by finding a garden tool set. That’s why we searched the internet and pored over reviews to figure out what makes a great set. We found that the best sets include every piece you need, are built for comfort and longevity, and come with a case for storing or carrying. Most sets include shovels, rakes, and shears, and many have several other useful tools as well. Keeping these things in mind, we’ve picked out some of our favorite garden tool sets available online. Top 10 Best Garden Tool Sets to Buy Online When deciding on a set, remember to consider the quality of the pieces and not just how many different tools there are. You can always add on separate pieces if you need them later. 1. OCALiving 6-piece Garden Hand Tool Set Visit Amazon for more details Price: $29.99 Best High-Quality Set that Lasts Decades This high-quality, Australian-made garden tool set is
Any cat lover will know–there’s nothing like the feel of silky, glowing, warm, sweet-smelling (healthy!) fur beneath the fingers. So get a good brush. It’ll make sure your cat doesn’t freak out during grooming sessions and cut down on random hair lying around the house. Pet stores have an extensive list of hairbrushes for your feline companion: short hair brushes, long hair brushes, flea and tick removal brushes, and shedding brushes, to name a few. And a whole lot are really colorful and cute. But, here comes the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover. For the sake of your cat, read on. How to Choose a Cat Brush – Buying Guide There are many kinds of brushes, and there are just as many ways to mess up when purchasing a cat brush. Give your cat and good, hard look before going shopping. Choose Something That Suits Your Cat’s Hair and Your Purpose Brushes come, surprisingly, in all shapes and sizes, so which one is best for your feline friend? Let’s break down what you can find an
We’ve dug deep and pored over reviews to figure out what makes a great garden tiller. While researching, we found that the best tillers match your power needs, either with rear or front tines and electric or gas-powered engines. The tilling area–both the width and depth–should also fit your garden in size. Keeping these things in mind, we’ve handpicked our favorite garden tillers available online. Top 10 Best Garden Tillers to Buy Online When deciding on a garden tiller, keep your garden space and soil in mind. 1. Earthwise 11-Inch 8.5-Volt Corded Electric Tiller (TC70001) Visit Amazon for more details Price: $91.65 Best Value Tiller for Small to Medium Gardens This light, compact tiller more than pulls its weight. It’s the perfect size for small to medium-sized gardens and works well as a weed control tool. Reviewers write that this tiller provides incredible value for its price–it’s fast, cuts through almost anything in its way, and is comfortable in your hands. However, it does
We’ve searched the internet high and low to find the dirty details on garden kneelers. In our research, we found that the best garden kneelers are comfortable yet durable, adequately sized, and sometimes come with helpful extra features like storage and handles. Whether you’re looking for a stabilizing kneeler with handrails that doubles as a bench or just want a simple foam pad, your joints will thank you for looking into our favorite garden kneelers available online. Top 10 Best Garden Kneelers to Buy Online Comfort and functionality should be the highest priorities for you when choosing a kneeler, so keep your preferences in mind when looking through the options. 1. TomCare Garden Kneeler Seat Visit Amazon for more details Price: $39.99 Best Durable Folding Handrail Kneeler This is a two-in-one kneeler and stool that’s lightweight and easy to store and carry. It has a spring lock mechanism that prevents it from accidentally folding while you’re using it. Reviewers are pleased with
Finding the right pot for your indoor plants can be a struggle–not only do you have to make sure it looks good, but it has to work too. We scoured the internet and pored over reviews to figure out what makes a pot so great. We found that the best pots are made from a material suitable for your plant’s water needs, fit your plant properly, and have proper drainage. On top of that, it pays to also consider its weight if you’re planning on hanging it or keeping it on a shelf. With these factors in mind, we’ve put together this list of the best pots for indoor plants available online. Top 10 Best Pots for Indoor Plants to Buy Online These pots are good looking, neutral enough for most decor styles, and they work. Of course, you’ll want to find something that fits your home’s aesthetic needs, but this a pretty solid place to start. 1. La Jolie Muse White Ceramic Planters (Set of 2) Visit Amazon for more details Price: $29.99 Best Medium-Sized Pots for Modern Decor This set of two indoor pl
We’ve put together a list of the best height adjustable desks that’ll let you switch off between sitting and standing as you work. After scouring the web and poring over reviews, we’ve come to the conclusion that the best adjustable desks offer the right height range, have an adequate work surface, and fit within your budget and lifestyle needs. This could mean deciding between manual and electric options, as well as picking out desktop material that matches your office decor. Keep all this in mind as you browse our ten favorite height adjustable desks available online. Top 10 Best Height Adjustable Desks to Buy Online These rankings were mainly determined by practical considerations, but don’t forget to keep your visual preferences in mind too. Most of these have several color and finish options for you to choose from, so feel free to click around a bit. 1. Jarvis Standing Desk with Bamboo Top Visit Amazon for more details Price: $534.00 Best All Around High-Quality Desk This high-qu
It’s winter, it’s cold, and worst of all, it’s dry. Excessively dry air can lead to a whole host of problems ranging from cracked skin to compromised immune systems. Luckily, humidifiers help to alleviate many of these issues. Unfortunately, traditional humidifiers can be clunky and bulky and not ideal for use in smaller spaces or while traveling. Luckily, portable-sized humidifiers are gaining traction, which means you’ve now got quite a few options when it comes to moistening your air. Picking out the right humidifier you boils down to figuring out what exactly you need from it. In this guide, we’ll cover the things you should look out for. At the end, if you’re still stuck, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorite portable humidifiers. How to Choose a Portable Humidifier – Buying Guide There’s no point in buying a humidifier that you’re not going to use. This guide will help you pick out one that’s exactly right for your situation. Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist: Think About Safety and Wat
Most people believe an external hard drive (HDD) can only store movies, music, and photos. But when shopping for an external hard drive, there are many other features to consider: ability to back up your computer, portability, compatibility, file sharing, etc. It’s also important to double check whether your Mac, PC, PS4 and other devices are compatible with the external hard drive (Notebook- or Desktop-class) that you are going to buy. In this article, we will review top features to look for, and list the best external hard drives on the market. How to Choose an External Hard Drive – Buying Guide Let’s take a quick dive into some of the key features found on external hard drives in the market today. Choose Functions and Performance That Match Your Needs External HDD is typically used just to save data. But nowadays, with people starting to use external hard drives for so much more, it’s important to find one that meets your needs. Let’s take a look at some key items to check off
In today’s fast-paced world, things can get kind of stressful, and we don’t always have the time to step back and sort out our emotions. Instead, for the most part, we’re expected to just keep going whether we’re comfortable or not. Luckily, there are stress relief toys made specifically to help you dispel stress and cope with your emotions on the go. But there are a lot of different kinds, and which one is right for you really depends on your own situation. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when deciding which of stress toy is right for you. At the end, if you’re still having a hard time going through the options, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started. How to Choose a Stress Relief Toy – Buying Guide Stress is a very personal experience, and the situations we become stressed in differ. So keep in mind your own feelings of stress as well as the underlying stressors as you consider what toy might be the best for you. Choose a Type o
It’s summer, it’s hot, and you just want a cold drink. But unless you’re just drinking water, it’s hard to ignore the fact that your melting ice cubes water down your drinks and change the flavor! Luckily, there are reusable ice cubes that don’t melt away and can be used over and over. But there are also a ton of different options, and it can be hard to figure out which one is the best for you. That’s where we come in! In this guide, we’ll run through a few things you should consider when choosing reusable ice cubes, and if you still find yourself stuck, we’ve also got ten of our favorites to help make the decision a little easier. How to Choose Reusable Ice Cubes – Buying Guide Considering reusable ice cubes are a pretty new concept, there’s a surprising number of options available! Read on to learn how to pick through the fluff and find the right ones for you. Choose a Material that Suits Your Needs There are three main types of reusable ice cubes: plastic, stainless steel, and stone