I was scrolling through my Instagram feed recently when I came across my friend Alicia’s pic of the cutest dinosaur garden idea ever! Alicia is the lovely (busy!) mom of three boys, so when I saw how she put together a fairy garden using her sons’ toys, I was all over it. I love how she repurposed things around her house to make her own spin on the popular fairy garden idea. Thank you for sharing this with us, Alicia! I can’t wait to see what else you come up with! You can see what creative things Alicia’s up to on her Facebook page.
I’m SO excited to have been asked by Norah to share one of my recent gardening projects with you all: the dinosaur garden! I truly appreciate all of the ideas and inspiration I get from reading Willowcrest Lane, so when Norah caught wind of the creation of our dinosaur garden on my Instagram, I was so excited to share.
How it Started:
This project all started with the captivating fairy garden displays in almost every store. This whole trend is right up my alley. Cute. Girly. Creative. Basically a chance for it to be acceptable for a 37 year old woman without daughters to purchase numerous dolls and their accessories. Count me in!
But then I noticed something else it was: expensive. $3.99 for a faux wooden bench? 5.99 for a super adorable 1 inch owl? Yikes! With three boys under six and a hobby loving husband, l already have so much STUFF in this house. It turns out that I already had something in our playroom that was cute, could be creative, would catch the boys’ interest, and did not require a huge purchase: plastic dinosaurs. (It is possible this came to me as I stepped on one on a sprint to the kitchen. They hurt almost as much as stepping on Legos.)
How to Make a Miniature Dinosaur Garden:
One afternoon, when my sweet niece happened to be here as well, we set to work on our very first dinosaur garden. While Pinterest surfing, I saw a garden in an old suitcase that I considered at first, but I could picture my middle child closing the lid on it. Repeatedly. All summer. But I had a small, antique wagon that I use for photo sessions – it would be perfect!
I’m blessed with a husband who is handy and supportive of most of my projects. He drilled five small holes in the wagon for drainage so that the bottom of the wagon wouldn’t rot.
We lined it with a piece of garbage bag and shoveled in a layer of rocks. Layering in rocks and dirt definitely caught everyone’s interest, including my 18 month old. We live on a property with a lot of existing moss, and the big boys knew right where to find it. I had read somewhere that it is helpful to harvest it with a fork. What’s not to love about Mom letting you use kitchen utensils in the dirt?
I will admit that I couldn’t quite give up control over the plant placement, but as long as I let them plant, most of the kids, minus the littlest, were happy to dig and plant where I asked them to. I would say they most loved burying the plastic dinosaur skeletons as “fossils.” I imagined rib bones sticking through the dirt, here and there, but they wanted the bones completely covered up. Maybe as rainstorms visit our yard this summer pieces of the fossils will naturally appear.
Finally we cleared a place for our “lake.” I let them deposit the blue sand in a shape that one little helper had traced loosely with a stick. Meanwhile, my middle kiddo was itching to place the dinosaurs – we even ended up with a pterodactyl in our tallest “tree” succulent.
It was a very quick project, in part because I had been hording several materials I thought we might repurpose, but also because so many hands made for quick work!
We placed our dinosaur garden at the entrance to our outdoor play area, and my boys love to show it off. The one-year-old, however, loves to place all of the dinosaurs IN the lake every time he remembers to.
Every time I notice this, I reposition them back the way we had them. This is my life- me trying to organize chaos and see the beauty in it. Either way, it’s our own beauty, and I’ll treasure every moment of their childhood helping me create it.
Good luck with your own outdoor creations!
Various small succulents – I tried to purchase them in various heights.
Two small “terrarium” plants at The Garden Factory. (Those are the small green and pink plants in the upper right hand corner of the wagon.)
We already had:
Some small succulents in our garden that could be transplanted
The wagon (It’s about 12” x 24”)
Small dinosaur toys (some were dinosaur skeletons that we “buried” in our garden as fossils.)
Green floral coral “moss” in the front of the wagon (It came with the amazing Mother’s Day centerpiece I won from Willowcrest Lane and Stacy K Floral!)
Live moss (all over my yard and surrounding woods)
Small pebbles (small landscape rocks we have in our outside play area. You could also collect them at the beach!)
Dirt (a mixture of topsoil and dried cow manure)
Colored or regular sand (Shellburt, our hermit crab, had recently had his sand replaced because it was over a year old, but we were able to reuse the old, blue sand to make the “lake” in our garden.)
Rocks of various sizes (some from Shellburt’s old habitat, others from the yard)
For more about gardening with your family, click here!