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Paige Perfects: DIY Zen Succulent Garden - A Peaceful Moment in the Comfort of your Home

Terrariums have been so big this year, and I have been eyeing the craze for a while now. It only took a few end-of-season sales to get me inspired, and once I got going, I realized just how many mediums and layers I had at my disposal. The opportunities were endless! Needless to say, I fell down the hole, and I am so happy I did! The terrarium projects and materials inspired me to try my hand at perfecting a Zen succulent garden to bring a peaceful moment into my bedroom. Check out what I created and how I did it below!

Of course, the first thing I did was take to Pinterest. How do I build a terrarium? A Zen Garden? Open or Closed Terrarium? Semi-arid or tropical? Which plants should I add, and what materials will I need? So many questions, and I had to get my footing.

You can check out my DIY Terrarium Board on my Pinterest to see where I got some of my best inspiration from!

Now I could go on for days about the setup process, but lets just say my journey started with terrariums and quickly escalated to all things "tiny garden." I will be sharing more about my terrarium projects in later posts, because that's where the inspiration started. Zen gardens are in NO way shape or form where that journey will end either. This is just the beginning!

Materials and supplies needed:
  • Glass bowl, rounded vase, or open faced glass jar

  • Terrarium sand or craft sand - (fortunately the succulents aren't too picky!)

  • Gravel or terrarium rock - (again, the succs are just happy to be getting some sun...don't overthink it!)

  • Potting soil (optional)

  • One ore more succulent type plant

  • Decorative rock, decorations, and toppers

When diving in to this project, I started with some basic glass pieces for my base. I found most of my pieces at Dollar Tree or Dollar General. Nothing fancy, and nothing too expensive. The white rock and sand were found at Dollar Tree, chosen from a wide selection of varieties as well!

With dirty hands from digging around in my terrariums, and the idea to create this calming moment...I immediately got to work. I layered white gravel and white sand at the bottom of the glass. You can absolutely pour out of the bag or container they are packaged in. But, in true Paige fashion, I had to perfect it!

So I opted to pour and layer my materials using some glass pieces and funnels. This gave me more control over the look of each pour. The most important thing to keep in mind when working with a transparent glass piece like this is to remember what you will see on the outside. Even though we always tend to instinctively focus on the view from above. Just go slow and take your time with it! Also remember that you have to leave plenty of room for plants, toppers, and all of the fun stuff.

I compare this project to the sand art we all used to make as kids. It was always so fun, and almost therapeutic to pour the different colors of the rainbow into the glass, anticipating the final result. This project instilled the same sense of wonder in me, and I found myself outside into all hours of the night pouring and creating.

Anyways...let's talk plants next. If ya'll thought I didn't already have a lineup of green girls waiting for a fancy home....think again! But of course, I hit a local nursery after my Dollar Tree run, just to pick up a few smaller plants to incorporate some variety and color. More about that nursery trip in a later post! My secrets are your secrets when it comes to where to find the best materials for plant projects and crafts. But moral of that story: you can never have too many plants. They will always find a home somewhere!

This particular nursery haul was one that I can be proud of. Under $100 out the door, with an assortment of succulents and terrarium plants. If you know me, you know that is a true feat and an uncommon occurrence to say the least.

Little did I know at the time that the the succulents would contribute perfectly to my Zen gardens-in-the-making! So back to it. As you can see in the picture above, I chose to opt for a tinier glass, therefore in some cases I left out the soil element of my garden. I experimented with the next few projects, but looking at my first one, I wanted to keep it very simplistic. The coolest thing about succulents in my opinion isn't their vast variety or unique look. Even though I will give them props....they are some of the coolest looking plants out there. But for me, it's more about their versatility and resiliency! Succulents will live ANYWHERE. Granted, I live on the FL panhandle, so conditions here are prime for any sort of cacti because of their sun-loving and draught-tolerant properties. Essentially...succulents should thrive here!

However, even if you are in a different climate, your succulent garden is intended for an indoor peaceful moment. So never fear! It will do just fine wherever you decide to let it land in your home. Now circling back to speak to the versatility aspect....the reason I was able to opt out on using soil for some of my gardens is because of that hardiness quality in succulents. They make great beginner plants for that exact reason.

Building on that information, I will share a bit more with ya'll. Once I started playing around, I started to use a lot of leca pebbles, which are a clay compound (pictured right) that can be used as a soil replacement or additive. You'll hear about leca a lot from me because I use it often. But in the context of my succulent gardens, these pebbles did wonders to serve as a base in place of the gravel which achieved my desired effect of a more natural aesthetic. Leca looks like a round rock, but it has wicking power which is important in the plant world. This means that the leca will draw the moisture that rests at the bottom of the glass. It also carries that water towards the roots of the plant itself.

Some of my gardens pictured have leca bases, and in some cases I just used gravel and sand alone. I wanted to not only try my hand at everything, but I wanted to show that it really is what you make it!

What I am getting at here, ya'll, is this....succulents AREN'T PICKY!

Gravel, rock, dirt, soil, sand, water....succulents don't require fancy accommodations, so long as they are provided the right amount of light - at least 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day.

So use the rock, the gravel, the leca...whatever medium floats your boat! This project is more about creating a Zen garden moment than it is about facilitating a masterful plant project. My motto is, if I lose a plant, I get the opportunity to try another in that same environment. To see where I went wrong and how I will improve upon it. Sort of like one big experiment!

Once I used my tweezers to pluck off a piece of the succulent to plant in my Zen garden, things picked up speed from there. After I nestled the cactus into the gravel using my tweezers, I picked up this cute meditating garden gnome from my materials pile and knew he was the perfect touch, along with some healing crystals and a succulent from my nursery trip.

I was sure to give my Zen garden a good mist before circling back around to make several others, as I played with various designs and mediums.

Again, have fun with it! That's the point! Broken pots are a fun way to improvise if you don't want to go the glass route. And fairy garden accessories are always extremely affordable at craft stores and dollar stores. Some more kid friendly if you are looking for a rainy day craft to try at home. I try to stock up during the summer, but you can also check Michael's or Old Time Pottery in the off-season if you want some REALLY cute toppers or other decorative additions to your garden-scape.

When I tell ya'll I got INTO this really did relax me and energize me at the same time! I think there is something to be said for a Zen Garden in the sense that, not only is the final product nice and relaxing to look at. But also, that even in the process of building the garden, one can find a fantastic creative outlet, as well as a therapeutic sense of calm. Talk about Zen!

I only hope that if you are reading this, that you get to unleash as much positive creative energy on this project as I did! If you enjoyed this project, send me your pictures or comment below!

Share tips and tricks with other readers, or show us your favorite spin on a Zen Garden!

Check out my Pinterest for more ideas, and keep checking my blog for more projects and inspiration!

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