Mini Sand Gardens

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Stress Relieving Mini Sand Gardens 

Sand Garden

These mini sand gardens combine sand and aromatherapy for a really fun and relaxing experience! They look great on a desk or table and can be a great personalized gift to give as well!  

Ingredients Needed:

  1. Container: Any wood, glass, or ceramic container will work—it's just up to you on how you want your mini sand garden to look. For the garden in the picture above, I just used an inexpensive jewelry box with a lift-out tray to allow for storage of tools and accessories below the sand garden. For some of the other gardens shown, I used unfinished shadow-box frames found at the local craft store. You could also use decorative ceramic bowls, planter boxes, wood trays, or anything else you discover.
  2. Sand: Any clean sand will do, but decorative and colored sands can be fun to use and are easily found at most craft or floral supply stores. For the gardens shown on this page, I used a coarse white decorative sand (for the Japanese rock garden shown above) and a fine tan craft sand (for the other types of gardens shown). The amount of sand you will need depends on the container you choose.  
  3. Essential oils: About 15-20 drops are used for the initial scenting, but you may want to include extra to "recharge" the scent later on. You may also want to use more if you have a large container with a lot of sand.
  4. Jojoba Oil (optional): The Jojoba oil is used only if you want to create a "wet" sand garden that can be used to create mini-sand castles, etc., for a beach-themed garden.
  5. Other Items: The sky's the limit on this one. Use your imagination to come up with different tools, accents, and other accessories to aid in "playing" with your gardens. For the gardens shown here, I used dowels (to create rakes for the sand and other accents), smooth river-rocks, small shells, pictures (use your own or use postcards or pictures cut from old magazines), wood (cut into the shape of the Japanese arch shown above [click here for the pattern] and also to make the small shovel and rake shown below), a battery operated diffuser pad (for decorative accents that can also be used to "re-charge" the aroma in the garden), a colored ping-pong ball (for a beach ball), and a small cap (for a bucket).
  1. Make sure your wood, glass, or ceramic container is clean, dry, and ready to use. If you are using a wood container, you may want to paint or stain it first. Attach any decorative items you wish to your container, and make sure any paint or glue is completely dry.
  2. Prepare your sand to go into your container. If you are using natural sand you collected outside, make sure it doesn't contain any bugs or other living creatures. For your sand garden, you can use either a "dry" sand or a "wet" sand:
    1. "Dry" Sand: This is the type of sand you would typically use for a "Zen" or rock garden where you want the sand loose and able to be easily shifted and raked. To create the dry sand, place about one to one-and-a-half cups of sand in a bottle, jar, or other small container with a sealable lid. Add 15-20 drops of your desired essential oil or blend to the sand. Place the lid on the container with the sand and essential oils in it, and shake the sand and essential oils until they are mixed together well and no small clumps of oily sand remain. Transfer the sand to your wood, glass, or ceramic garden container.
    2. "Wet" Sand: This type of sand works great if you want to do a beach-themed garden where you can use the sand to make mini sand castles, sand sculptures, or other sand creations. To make this type of sand, mix 15-20 drops of essential oils with 4 oz. of jojoba oil in a small plastic bottle. Place about one to one-and-a-half cups of sand in a small bowl or other container. Add about one tablespoon of the oil mixture to the sand, and stir until mixed together well. Continue adding the oil mixture a little at a time, then stirring, until the sand is able to hold its shape well when pressed together. The amount of oil you will need to add depends on the shape and coarseness of the sand. Once the sand has reached the right consistency, it will be able to be played with for days without drying out (you may wish to include a small bottle of jojoba oil mixed with the essential oil or blend so the sand can be "re-wetted" if it does start to dry out). Pack the "wet" sand into your garden container so it is level and smooth.
  3. Create or find tools and accessories that can be used to "play" with the sand. Many places sell miniature tools like shovels and rakes as keychains or novelty items. You can also simply use a fork for a rake and a spoon for a shovel. You can also have a lot of fun making your own custom tools.
    1. Zen Garden Rake: Cut a 1.25" piece from a thicker dowel (about 3/8" or 1/2" diameter) for the base of the rake. Cut a 3"-4" piece from a medium dowel (about 3/16" or 1/4" diameter) for the handle. Cut four 1/2" pieces from a thin dowel (about 1/8" in diameter) for the tines of the rake. Drill a hole the same diameter or just larger than the piece of dowel you cut for the handle in the middle of the thick 1" dowel piece for the handle. Place a small amount of wood glue in the hole, and push the end of the 3"-4" piece of medium dowel into the hole. Allow the glue to dry for 20 minutes. Drill four holes (the same diameter or just larger than the four 1/2" thin dowel pieces) evenly spaced along the length of the thick dowel but only going in about halfway into the dowel. Place glue in these holes, and push the ends of the four thin dowel pieces into these holes. Allow the glue to dry for 20 minutes.
    2. Mini shovel and rake: Many scrapbook and craft stores sell die-cut wood shapes pre-made (and often already painted) as part of sets for scrapbooking or doll houses. If you want to make your own, use this pattern, and carefully cut the shapes for the shovel and rake from a piece of 3/16" thick solid wood (a soft wood like pine or balsa wood may work best) using a scroll-saw or a coping saw. Use chisels, knives, saws, sandpaper, rotary tools, or other tools to continue to shape your mini tools. I used a curved chisel to carve out the basic shape of the shovel blade and then used sandpaper to finish shaping and curving the corners. I used a drill to cut a hole for the handle. For the rake, I used a small coping saw to cut out the area between the tines and then used it to cut out part of the area behind the tines. I then used sandpaper to continue to shape and round the corners.
  4. Add other decorations like river rocks, polished rocks, small figurines for statues, bonzai trees, fake moss or grasses, arches, bridges, or whatever else you would like to help embellish your garden.
  5. If desired, add a battery operated diffuser pad either on the garden container, or disguised as a decorative element in your garden. Place a few drops of essential oils on this pad to to help "re-charge" the aroma of the garden without having to mix the essential oil into the sand again. You may also pour the sand into another container with a lid, add more essential oils, shake to mix thoroughly together, and then pour the "re-charged" aromatic sand back in your garden container.
  6. If you are giving the garden as a gift, you may wish to include a small bottle of essential oil for "re-charging" the aroma.
  7. When stressed, get your garden and just have fun "playing" in the sand while breathing in the aroma of your chosen essential oil.

Extra Ideas: 
  1. Have your own "Garden Party" with your friends. Assemble containers, sand, essential oils, decorations, tools, and other items (or assign each of your friends to bring something), and then have fun creating your own unique gardens (this would be a great time to talk about the benefits of essential oils, too)!

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