Quick! Spring break is over, the little ones are busy with school, the holidays have wrapped up, and summer fun has not gotten underway quite yet. Do you know what that means? There is finally some time to work on the projects we have all been putting off. From home projects to hobbies, everyone has a few things that have fallen to the bottom of the list. But at last, this in-between season offers a bit of quiet time to clean, organize, DIY, and yes—garden!
This spring, I am excited to get my hands dirty while putting together some new container-based miniature gardens. If you have always longed for a fairy garden of your own, or have been dreaming of expanding your miniature empire, now is the time! Before the weather gets too hot, before the kids get out of school, and before that to-do list fills up again, go for it. I have put together a quick list of the essentials. Next time you get online or head over to your favorite greenhouse to stock up on miniature plants, print out this list. It is an easy “cheat sheet” of the items you need to create your own fairy garden, even when time is of the essence.
When you think of fairy gardens, you probably think of fairies. But I like to start with the stuff that truly brings life to the garden—soil. If you are setting up your miniature garden in a container, you should search for high-quality, organic potting soil. If you are planning to plant cacti or succulents, consider a porous soil such as “cactus soil,” or think about incorporating coarse sand or gravel. A good rule of thumb is three parts potting soil, two cups perlite or pumice, and two parts sand.
Ultimately, the soil you choose should match the miniature plants in your garden. With just a little research, you can ensure that you have picked the perfect soil for your plants. Here is one more helpful tip: When you are planting, be sure to fill your container up to the rim with soil. Otherwise, you may be left with a “sunken garden” after your first watering!
If this is your first foray into miniature gardens, you might not want to take over your backyard with a fairy garden—at least not yet! For gardens that will live inside your home or on your patio, there are countless container options. Some gardeners even choose nontraditional containers like old washtubs and hollowed-out logs. When it comes to a first fairy garden, though, or one created in a pinch, you just need to make sure that the container provides plenty of drainage. Small holes on the bottom will help ensure that water does not pool in the pot. Too much water can cause root rot.
If you are creating a Zen garden or featuring air plants, consider a shallow container. Cement plates and other shallow containers allow for sand or pebbles, but will not become too heavy.
What is a fairy garden without miniature plants? Before you start ordering bright blooms, green groundcovers, and other plants, you will want to consider your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Some plants are more likely to thrive outside than others, depending on where you live.
While you can pick up plants for your fairy garden at your local greenhouse, I recommend searching through an online store or greenhouse that specializes in miniature plants. You will want to find slow-growing miniature plants that are the right fit for your container. For me, shopping for miniature plants is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process! Helpful hint: Plant four-packs are a quick and easy way to add variety to your garden.
Be sure to plant miniature trees and other larger plants first. Then fill in with smaller plants and groundcovers. If you plan to add gravel, pebbles, or sand, wait until all of the plants and accessories are in place, and use a piece of cut black plastic or weed barrier to make sure it does not mix with the soil.
Last, but certainly not least, you may want to pick out a few miniature accessories and figurines for your garden. Be on the lookout for fairy cottages, small doors, tables, benches, bridges, stepping stones, and other additions. These will make your container garden, no matter the size, truly come alive.