Miniature gardens are a combination of
container, soil, planting, accessories and imagination all
rolled into one creative tiny scene! You do not need
to be a gardener to create a miniature garden, all you need
is a little imagination and a little creativity!
You can create a miniature garden or
fairy garden using just about any container. The
best containers will have a large open surface to
accommodate your miniature landscapes, garden furniture and
accessories. Ceramic and terracotta pots, wicker
baskets, wooden boxes and metal buckets are all good
choices. If your wicker basket or container does not
have a liner then use a black plastic sack or plastic bag
large enough to cover the entire base of your container, cut
to size leaving a large enough edge to fold back and hide
inside the container. If you intend to leave your
miniature garden outside then you container must have
drainage holes in the base.
Smaller containers work well for creating little garden
vignettes or scenes, and can be used as a table centre piece
or to give as a gift. Making a seasonal table centre
piece is easy once you find a few basic accessories.
Any good quality, peat free, compost
is suitable for you miniature garden. Avoid using
actual soil since this is too heavy and does not drain
well. If you are using a very deep container, and for
all gardens that will be left outside, you should line the
base with a layer of gravel to aid drainage.
Preparing the Container
We recommend that all baskets and
wooden containers should have a protective liner whether for
indoor or outdoor use. Don't forget to make drainage
holes in the container if it is to be left outside. Once
the liner is
is place, and gravel has been added if necessary, you should
fill the container with compost to about 0.5 cm from the top
of the container. Make sure you push the compost right
into the corners of the pot and pack down really
tightly. If you do not pack the compost down tightly
then the garden will eventually settle and sink.
Make sure the plastic liner is just below the edge of the
composts and is not visible otherwise this will spoil the
Any small, low growing and compact plant is
suitable for a mini garden. For a comprehensive list
of recommended plants please go to the miniature
garden plants section. How many plants you place in your
garden really depends on the size of the container, but we
would recommend a minimum of three. Be careful not to
overfill your container with plants, they will grow and
You should try and incorporate at least one plant to add
height to your garden. For larger containers this
could be a mini dwarf conifer. The herb Rosemary is an
excellent plant to use since it can be grown and shaped like
a tree. You could use a mini Jade Tree, or some
house ferns can also be used, provided they remain in
their pot and then planted in the container. This will
restrict growth and keep the plant small.
An ivy is an excellent plant to incorporate in your garden,
and when using a container that has a handle like buckets or
baskets, you can wind the ivy around the handle, giving
height and depth to the garden. If using a
basket, grow the ivy around the edge and secure using a very
fine twine, or clear fishing line is perfect for this job.
You could use perennial plants (bedding plants) that have a
very small flower like alyssum or lobelia, but these will
naturally like to spread and will only last for one
season. Both these plants are available in a
wide range of colours. Sedum, Sempervivum, some herbs
and alpine plants all make excellent mini garden
plants. Both Sedum and Sempervivum require very little
Once your chosen container has been lined and tightly packed
with compost and you have selected your plants, you can
begin to 'design' your mini garden.
Before you actually plant the garden you should place all
the features, the plants, the furniture and accessories, and
finally your fairy or miniature figure, on top of the
compost. This gives you a chance to experiment with
different arrangements without over handling the plants and
basically making a mess.
Decide what the main focal point will be and position this
in the container, this may be a plant or it may be a
miniature piece of furniture. Once the main
piece is in place you can arrange the other plants and
Once the overall design is established you can get
Start by planting the largest plant first,
trying not to disrupt the soil level too much.
Remember to leave plants in their pots if you wish to
restrict their growth. Excavate the right size hole
for the plant using a tablespoon. After each plant is
positioned pat down and smooth out the soil before moving on
to the next plant.
If you are using small creeping plants or sedums, these can
easily be divided to create smaller arrangements or
clumps. To separate, hold the plant in both hands and
with your thumbs gently tease the roots apart. Sedums
and some succulents with grow new roots if the stem is
placed in the soil.
When you have positioned all the plants, gently firm and
smooth the compost back into place and check that it is
level. You may end up with too much compost after
positioning the plants so this needs to removed.
Gently water the plants and the entire surface of the
container with a small sprinkling watering can. Never
water with a hose pipe. This is far to vigorous
for your container.
Leave the plants in the container to sit and settle for a
Now that the plants are in place you can
position the rest of the furniture and accessories.
Larger items of furniture often sit better if placed on
small pee gravel or 'paved' areas. These 'paved' areas
can be easily created using gravel, flat stones, slate
chippings or similar. Place the stones or chippings on
top of the soil and gently press down. The furniture
can then be positioned on top.
Many of our garden accessories come complete with a stake
which can be pushed through the gravel and into the soil to
prevent the items from falling over.
The overall look of your garden will be improved if you can
cover all the soil. You can create pathways using
small pee gravel, or cover the soil with a natural moss.
Finally, when all the items are in place, add that magical
little fairy or miniature figure!
If your miniature garden is to be left outside you may wish
to protect it from the elements. The sun, rain, frost
and snow will all take their toll on anything left
outside. On many wood and metal pieces, this natural
'aging' adds a certain charm and organic beauty to the look
of your garden, but you may wish to prevent this 'weathered'
look on other pieces and figures.
maintain the best look for your miniature garden, never
place in direct sunlight whether inside or out. Fierce
sun beating down, or through glass, will quickly fade
furniture and figures. You can offer some protection
against the sun by applying a clear UV protective spray
(available on the internet and from craft stores).
This needs to be done each year as the protection does
dissipate over time.
If you intend to over winter your miniature garden, we
recommend that you store in a dry, sheltered place.
Wooden or basket containers will not fair well if left
outside all winter, the basket will become brittle and
break, or the wood might crack. Ceramic, pottery or
terracotta pots will crack if the compost is allowed to
(Don't forget that over wintered gardens will still require
a little watering from time to time).
You do not have to over winter your garden if this seems a
little overwhelming to deal with. At the end of the
growing season you can simply remove all the garden
furniture and accessories and store in a dry place
allowing the plants to die off, (annuals will only
last one season anyway). Remove the compost from the
container and store container in the dry.
Next spring you can have fun all over again creating a new
miniature or fairy garden!
If you intend to create an indoor garden you can, of course,
enjoy your garden all year round. The season for
annuals will be extended slightly if kept inside, but you
should remember that these will eventually die off and will
need to be replaced with another plant.
Most of the plants that we recommend for use in your
container garden thrive better if they are not exposed to
extremes of temperature or sunlight. Alpines, ferns
and sedums are much happier in shady areas.
Miniature gardens are best watered by hand using a soft
sprinkling of water. You should never us a hose
pipe on your miniature garden. Too much water
too fast will scatter stones and paving making the garden
Sedums and succulents and many alpines need little water and
prefer the soil to be on the dry side. It is better to
water little and often rather than a 'deluge' all in one
go. To test if your garden needs watering just press a
finger into the soil. If the soil feels moist about an
inch down don't water until it feels a bit drier. You
will probably find that a little water once a week will be
plenty (this does obviously depend on the type of planting
and the quantity of plants).
If annuals (bedding plants) are used in the garden these
will require more watering, possibly 2 or 3 times per week
depending on weather conditions. You should check
regularly using the 'finger in soil' method. You will
soon learn by doing and observing!
Pinching and Pruning
Happy plants will naturally like to grow, even miniature
ones, so a little pinching and pruning will be necessary to
maintain the look of your garden.
How much you prune will depend on the individual plant and
how it grows. Small topiary trees (such as Rosemary)
can be clipped as often as needed to keep tightly shaped.
If creeping plants get too big or start to 'crawl' out of
bounds, simply trim back to the size required, but remember
to remove the roots too or the plant will simply re-shoot.
Annuals, such as alyssum, will often flower twice. To
get a second crop of flowers, or if the plant gets too
'leggy' simply cut right back leaving a little green
foliage. The plant will eventually recover and be covered in
little flowers again.