Fairy gardens are magical places for children and adults alike–use these easy fairy garden ideas to learn how to start a fairy garden today!
Learn how to make a fairy garden with this easy step-by-step beginning gardening tutorial for children and adults. A miniature DIY fairy garden filled with gnomes, little fairies, toadstools, and cute tiny fairy houses offers children and adults an enchanted play space to develop their creativity and imagination. And best of all, miniature gardens make a sweet addition to any porch, deck, backyard, or garden space.
A few popular fairy garden ideas include the step-by-step “how-to” tutorial in a half-wine barrel below, a winter wonderland, three easy tabletop beach-themed ideas, and a fairy garden in a tree stump. Learn more about fairy gardens, their benefits and uses, what to put in an outdoor fairy garden, and how to make a fairy garden with the supplies and quick and easy do-it-yourself instructions below!
Related: Beach Fairy Garden Ideas
Related: Fairy Garden in a Tree Stump
What is a Fairy Garden?
A fairy garden is a decorative miniature garden usually grown in a small pot, planter, garden bed, or container, or in another small space within a larger garden, inside or outside of the home (or classroom). They are magical gardens filled with small plants, various types of fairy figurines, garden gnomes, fairy lights, picket fences, little fairy homes, birdhouses, and all sorts of other miniature DIY fairy garden accessories and decorations. In fact, don’t be fooled by their name, because like fairy tales–not all mini gardens include fairies!
What is the point or purpose of a fairy garden?
A fairy garden offers an enchanted magical play space or “small world” that children (and adults) can use to develop their imagination and learn to flex their creative muscles. They also make a fantastic tool for meditation and sensory development and can help children and adults learn to self-regulate. And putting one together, or making a fairy garden, is a great way to sow the seeds of early learning in the garden.
Best of all, there are as many ways to make a fairy garden as there are ways to enjoy these sweet whimsical creations. They can be made into static gardens that can be imagined into or meditated upon. Or, they can be made into little play gardens filled with various types of fairies and gnomes, dragons and wizards, shells and mermaids, and other small figurines that children and adults can use to play with and enjoy.
Benefits of Fairy Gardens for Children and Adults
There are many lessons to be learned in the garden, and fairy gardens are no exception. Make a miniature fairy garden with your children to begin to learn the basics of gardening and plant care–and so much more.
DIY fairy gardens also make a fun sensory play area for kids. Manipulating and playing with the soil, plants, other natural materials, accessories, and figurines provide much-needed sensory stimulation to the developing child. Besides, playing in the dirt makes you happy–and there is research to prove it.
How Does Playing in a fairy garden increase Happiness?
Happiness is found in the garden, which is especially true of fairy gardens made with natural materials and mini garden figurines. Digging in the soil has many researched benefits for both children and adults–including decreased stress, anxiety, depression, increased life satisfaction, and perceived quality of life.
We use our mini garden as a self-regulation strategy in our home. Imagining or meditating upon a fairy garden is an easy way for children (and adults) to calm down and learn to find focus. They also provide the benefits that gardening and playing with the microbes in the soil have on our level of perceived happiness and satisfaction in life.
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How to Start a Fairy Garden
When I was pregnant, I envisioned everything that I would do with my daughter and starting a DIY fairy garden was at the top of the list. I wanted to create an enchanting space filled with wonder and magic—a place to imagine into, a place to escape.
So when my daughter began to enjoy imaginative play, I knew it was time to create the miniature garden I always wanted. For her, of course! 😉 Find everything you need to make a fairy garden inside the home or outside in the backyard or garden with the supply lists and step-by-step instructions below.
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Fairy Garden Supplies
If you are wondering what to buy for a fairy garden or what you need to make one or put in an outdoor fairy garden, there are several different DIY fairy garden supplies and materials that you can put in a miniature garden. We recommend starting small with just a few plants, accessories, and figurines. That way, you can continue to add miniatures and fairy accessories that you would like to include slowly over time. And, starting with just a few primary features leads to more joy–and less overwhelm–when making a fairy garden. Especially if you will be working with preschoolers or kindergarteners. Here’s a list of everything you need for a fairy garden:
- First, you need a container or space to grow your fairy garden. (We used a wooden half wine barrel for this tutorial, but you can also use one made of resin. More container ideas are in Step 1 of the fairy garden tutorial below.
- Potting soil
- Peat moss (optional)
- Small plants or succulents from your local nursery. We used two small bonsai trees, Corsican Mint, Scotch Moss, and Mini Blue Isotoma.
- Gardening trowel
- Fairies, gnomes, wizards, fairy houses, and other fairy garden accessories and miniatures like these toadstools.
- Stones, pebbles, marbles, glass gems, sea glass, wood slices, sand, twigs, moss, popsicle sticks, twine, etc.
My daughter and I have had luck finding some fairy garden materials and accessories, and sometimes a container you can use at the Dollar Store and the Dollar Tree.
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Step-by-Step DIY Fairy Garden Tutorial
Learn how to make an indoor pot fairy garden or an outdoor fairy garden in a container (or in the ground) with the easy step-by-step gardening tutorial below. The final picture in this step-by-step photo collage is of how our mini garden looked after it had been growing for three months. The written tutorial below gives a complete description of each step in the process.
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Step 1 – Choose a container and location for your DIY fairy garden.
One question I hear all the time is, “What container can I use to make a fairy garden?” And my answer is as follows. The type of miniature garden you create will depend primarily on where you want to plant it. You can grow one inside or outside. The options are endless! And there are several different types of containers you can use to make a fairy garden. We used a half wine barrel for this step-by-step DIY tutorial, but there are several other choices on the fairy garden supplies list below.
DIY Fairy Garden Container Ideas:
Here’s a list of unique DIY fairy garden container ideas that will make it easy for you to create the perfect place for your favorite fairies and other figurines to call home.
- Small bowl planter, tray, or flower pot
- Broken pot or Small fairy garden pot
- Old wheelbarrow or wheelbarrow planter
- Round tabletop planter (perfect for a succulent fairy garden)
- Garden dorado planter
- Raised cedar garden bed
- Sideways half wine barrel planter
- Raised planter box on wheels
- Patio garden bed
- Small garden bed
- Amish wagon garden planter
- Tabletop or desktop fairy garden ideas
- Next to a tree, tree stump, house, bench, or shed
- Clay pots
- Lined basket
- A small area in the garden
- Any other space suitable for fairies and gnomes to find a home.
Which container should you choose? The one that you like best and fits your needs, of course! Just be sure that the container you choose has drainage holes. If not, get out the drill to create a few.
Step 2 – Pick Plants, Fairy Figurines, and Garden Accessories.
Miniature gardens are static gardens that children and adults can use to help focus, self-regulate, and play with and enjoy. Choose plants, fairy figurines, and fairy garden accessories that will work for the type of mini-fairy garden you want to create.
We made our faerie garden for my daughter to play with and enjoy. If you look closely, you can see a bit of dirt on each of the fairies, wizards, and other figurines. My daughter loves to move them around and chit-chat with them as she plays. And I can often hear her joyful laughter ringing out through the backyard.
Your plant choices will also depend on the location of your mini garden, the climate, and your purpose or theme. For example, succulents are an excellent choice for those that live in the desert. While a patio makes a great place for a container fairy garden.
In the step-by-step fairy garden DIY for this post used two small bonsai trees, Corsican Mint, Scotch Moss, and Mini Blue Isotoma, but please use the plants you would like. Ask your local nursery for help choosing the types of flowers and plants you can use to make a fairy garden perfect for your home or backyard.
Start with a few plants and items that will work in your available space. Purchase fairy garden materials and accessories or make homemade crafts and miniatures. We made a cute little fairy village in our garden with these homemade fairy garden homes. Choose features and elements that make your heart sing.
Step 3 – Add Soil to Fairy Garden Container or Location of Choice.
Do not use soil from your garden if you will be planting your miniature garden in a container. The best kind of soil for a fairy garden is potting soil–and we recommend organic potting soil for the best results.
Why? Dirt is dead while the soil is alive. Dark soil is rich with nutrients, while light-colored de-mineralized ground soil has nothing to give a plant to help it survive. And, if you make compost at home, mix some with your potting soil to create a rich and healthy mini garden.
If you create a fairy garden outside in your yard or next to a tree or structure, add peat moss and potting soil with the existing soil and mix it in before planting. You may even need to add a few soil amendments. Again, ask your local nursery for help.
While potting soil has everything a plant needs to stay alive and grow into a healthy plant, not every plant likes the same type of soil. So, be sure to ask the staff at your local nursery which potting soil is best for the plants you purchase for your fairy garden.
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Step 4 – Arrange Miniature Live Plants and Accessories.
It’s essential to have a general plan for your design before planting your fairy garden. So, take a few minutes to envision the scene you want to create and how you will lay it out. First, fill your container, or garden bed, with potting soil. Next, arrange your live plants and fairy garden accessories on top of the potting soil to see how it looks before planting. Continue to play with the layout until you figure out how you want to arrange your mini garden.
The idea is to create at least one scene in your faerie garden. And, if you are planting a fairy garden in a large planter, you can create several different scenes or settings in your miniature garden. Think of each scene like rooms in your outdoor dollhouse. Make hills, paths, streams, rivers, ponds, caves, and other garden features and use them to divide the scenes and create interest.
Step 5 – Plant and Mold Fairy Garden DIY Features.
Follow the simple directions below to plant your fairy garden in the potting soil that now sits in your selected container or space.
- First, add water to prepare the soil to plant.
- Then use a garden trowel to dig a small hole for each plant.
- Next, gently place a plant into each hole and carefully cover the roots with soil.
- Continue to mold and create the scene by building streams and ponds made with glass gems or marbles and adding pebble or wood slice walkways and other fairy garden features into the soil and surrounding area as you plant. Encourage the kids to get creative and use their imaginations as they work to create their special play garden.
- Finally, water the plants once they have been planted in the container (or dedicated space outside in the yard or garden) and covered with soil.
For this tutorial, we started with molding potting soil into the shape of a hill in the back of the half wine barrel. Next, we planted our plants according to the garden layout or design we created in step 4. Then, we decided to create a river that came from behind the hill and wrapped around it, dividing the space to create different scenes.
Finally, we finished our homemade fairy garden DIY by making a pond with blue flat-backed marbles and placing a tiny house on a beach made with pebbles, and adding various miniature garden figures and figurines into each area to set up the scenes. In the step-by-step photo collage above, you can see each of these steps in action and how we planted our fairy garden in a half-barrel.
If you have kids, invite them to help plant their own faerie garden. You can see our 3-year-old daughter’s experienced gardening hands working in the step-by-step fairy garden photo collage above and in the image below. We are raising a helper, so she has been learning how to garden since she learned how to walk.
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Step 6 – Finish DIY Fairy Garden Features or Scenes.
Fill in the areas you molded to be rivers, ponds, walkways, and paths. Next, add any elements on the list below to finish each fairy garden scene. Most fairy garden supplies can be found at your local craft store or dollar store or purchased at the Amazon affiliate links below.
In the step-by-step how-to photo tutorial above, my daughter demonstrates how to use blue glass gems or marbles to make a small stream. She carefully placed every rock, river, and stone in the garden. Watching her create her little fairy garden with her own hands was so sweet.
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Step 7 – Add fairy garden accessories and miniatures.
Add a cute fairy garden home or house, garden fairies, gnomes, and other models and figurines that you would like to put in your mini-garden. We decorated our miniature garden with fairies, a wizard looking into his crystal ball, and a small fairy house.
And, we use the same fairies in the garden pictured here and our winter wonderland small world. So, please start small to keep it simple at first. You can always make or purchase more fairy garden crafts and accessories later.
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Make Your Own Fairy Garden DIY
A DIY fairy garden makes a lovely addition to any porch, deck, backyard, or garden. Fairy gardens are a wonderful place in the home, yard, or garden that children and adults can enjoy. They are magical play areas perfect for imaginative or pretend dramatic play.
You can even grow a fairy garden indoors! Beach mini gardens are great for desks and tabletops and are perfect sensory play areas for children (and adults) to develop their creativity and imagination.
Follow these fun, easy fairy garden ideas to offer your children an enchanted play space to develop their creativity. Or, paint rocks that look like fairy houses and place them with your favorite fairy and gnome miniatures all around your garden to make your entire backyard into a fairy garden. Check out our faerie garden in a tree stump for even more ideas.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Backyard Play Areas For Kids
Outdoor play spaces in the backyard and garden make it fun for children to learn through play–every day. Click on the links below to learn more about each type of outdoor play space for kids.
- Outdoor chalkboard
- Sand and water tables
- DIY Mud kitchen
- How to Grow a Sunflower House
- Best Sandbox Ideas for Kids