Make This: Zen-Inspired Succulent Desktop Garden

I spend a lot of time at a desk. Many of us do. It’s a space where we learn, create, work, and play. I’m not saying all that sitting is a good thing, but if it has to happen then make the space as clean and relaxing as you can. Here is a quick project to add a bit of green, texture, and peace to you space.    A project like this can turn out different for everyone, because we all collect different pieces to make it our own. I’m a fan of dark, rich colors so I opted for darker pieces, and clean, simple container. We can use wood, plastic, glass or metal depending on the materials available, and vary the size to match your space. I used a simple wooden box that I found, keep it shallow for a clean look.


1. Container – Go for something wide and not too tall. If it’s not watertight, seal it up with a bead of silicone. Check your local craft store.

2. Sand – I went down to a local beach  on my favorite river and grabbed a bag full. I sifted it through a small screen to make it uniform. It’s not as pure and pristine as white sand, but I like having a reminder of my adventures with me on my desk.

3. Interesting natural texture pieces – I opted for a cool black rock, it’s interesting, organic, and easy to find. Try driftwood, river stones, shells, etc.

4. Succulent – Adding some green to the piece is a great way to make it interesting. I always try to go for succulents because they’re durable, and I need that.

The Steps

1. The container should be durable so make sure to seal with a bit of silicone. This is the time to finish the outside with a durable layer of poly too. I added a few small dividers to keep everything separated and in place.

2. Plant the succulent. Give it enough room in a corner to make it stand out, and also to make watering it easier.

3. Fill the container with sand. Be sure to leave a bit of room at the top so the sand won’t overflow.

4. Add a bit of character with rocks or other decorative pieces.

Add a simple rake to maintain the container, and you’ve got another great piece on the desk to make it a little better place to spend the day.

I made the rake from a small piece of figured olive, a cedar handle and some pointed bamboo skewers for the prongs. You don’t have to go all out on this, just get creative and make it fit the character of your box.