Desktop Escape: Create An Office Zen Garden

Ready to get Zen? Brighten your cubicle or office space by adding these easy touches of green!

Many people have taken to working from home. Are there ways to brighten up your office space? Or are you stuck in a windowless office, or worse yet, a tiny cubicle, craving a glimpse of the great green outdoors? If it’s just not possible to obtain, how about creating a natural focal point on which to zero in for some peace, deep breathing, and a little relaxation when the stress at work mounts (and when doesn’t it?!).

These easy, creative, low-maintenance ideas for tiny indoor gardens, including a mini Zen garden (did someone say “ohm”?), will turn that cluttered, overlooked corner of your desk into an ocular oasis – a vacation for the eyes and the soul. Double ohm!

Getting Started – Clean Your Space!

First, while it may sound cliché, a clean desk really does provide for a feeling of order and control, eliminating that overwhelming sense of chaos. While your boss may pour it on with extra work at every staff meeting, or even every day and throughout the day, it’s easier to navigate when printed materials are in plain sight in labeled, accessible folders, not strewn, piled, and buried under mounds of the unknown. So set about making your desktop a pleasant place.

Select The Perfect Spot

Next, choose a corner of your now-organized and pristine desk on which to design your garden—maybe the corner to which your eyes tend to gravitate more than the others. If you’re going for Zen, gather up a simple shoebox lid, sand or soil, plastic wrap (to line the lid), pebbles or tiny rocks and a bridge (try your local aquarium store for these), a little moss or similar greenery (real or otherwise), a comb or tiny rake for a raised design, and a container for water: an empty tea light holder works well. Arrange your Zen garden in any way you like with the bridge over the water. A little meditation, please!


Terrariums are also great fun to make and can be designed in a small glass or plastic container or bowl to fit trimly into the corner of your desk.  Be sure to clean the glass well at the outset with antibacterial soap, as a dirty terrarium is conducive to bacterial growth.

Choose Your Materials

Next, add some small stones or pebbles for drainage, along with a handful of charcoal (a combined inch is adequate). Add a layer of moss to prevent soil (next layer) from settling down into the stones. Two to three inches of potting soil comes next tamped down to eliminate air pockets, with little holes where you would like your plants. To add the plants, experts say to remove them from their containers and tease roots apart to eliminate excess soil; this will aid them in making a home in the new terrarium soil. Be sure to add some moisture.


The fun part is then deciding how to decorate! Explore craft stores for items that may relax and enchant you the most. A tiny fairy? A bird’s nest with robin’s eggs? Seashells and coral? Sea glass? Something that reminds you of your childhood? Or get really creative and laminate photos of your favorite vacation spots (aspirational or otherwise!), adhere to sticks, and “plant.” Your desktop escape awaits!

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Beth Herman

Beth Herman is a freelance writer with interests in healthy living and food, family, animal welfare, architecture and design, religion, and yoga. She writes for a variety of national and regional publications, institutions, and websites.

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George Maycock

Could you please suggest some “Neglect Tolerant” plants as I keep forgetting to water & then drown them. Thank you.

John Oldham

I always Like yall’s ideas thank you.

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