These step-by-step instructions show how to create a fairy garden with tips for choosing a theme and getting started. Make a delightful little world for display on your patio table using natural materials, plants, and miniature accessories.
Want to use real plants? This guide lists the best miniature plants to choose.
How to Create a Fairy Garden Outdoors
There are several advantages to creating a fairy garden in a container instead of in the ground. You can move them around (for play or away from little hands), protect it from harsh weather, and keep small or delicate miniatures from getting lost.
Start with natural materials like moss, tiny flowers and plants, and add enchantment with the decorations.
Overwhelmed with where to begin?
I suggest starting with a theme and working from there. I’ve provided a bunch of examples to spark your imagination.
The possibilities are endless, and it’s your creation, so go with what you love.
And—bonus—it’s easy to change up a fairy garden any time so get started and let it evolve as you go.
Table of Contents
Create a Fairy Garden
You can create a fairy garden in just about any container. You want it strong enough to hold potting mix, water-resistant, and with drainage holes if you are including real plants or rain will reach it.
Once you know your theme and what it will include, that will tell you how much space you’ll need as well.
I made my mini garden in a vintage suitcase.
1Choose a Container
- Any container will do! It just needs to be sturdy and large enough to hold the contents (soil, plants, fairy garden decorations).
- If you will be growing real plants, choose a container at least 6-inches deep.
- Keep in mind that your fairy garden may be exposed to soil and water so don’t use a precious heirloom.
- If you will keep your fairy garden outdoors (exposed to the elements), add drainage holes. And beware: a container like my suitcase will get gradual water damage.
What Else Could I Use?
Look around your house and see what you have!
- Old boots or shoes
- Flowerpots (whole or broken)
- Child’s toy wagon
- Dresser drawer
- Fishing tackle box
- Shallow fruit crate
- Large wooden salad bowl
Can I Make a Fairy Garden in the Ground?
Yes, but there are a few things to consider.
Personally, I love a fairy garden created right on the ground, especially if it is made for children.
But, if it’s more of a decoration to be viewed, not played with, and you are including miniatures or delicate plants, it is much safer in a container in a location where you can protect it from hands and weather.
2Pick a Theme
Once you have a theme, the whole project will come together.
Fairy gardens are about storytelling. You set up a scene and let your imagination take it from there.
Browse the ideas below and pick a theme. Or, visit a shop that sells garden miniatures and see what calls your name.
Once you have the theme, jot down a list of everything you associate with it and go from there.
Have fun with it.
Do you want the fairy garden to be realistic or a fantasy? Natural or whimsical?
Will there be a focal point like a wee cottage or tiny vegetable garden?
There are miniatures for everything!
- Celebrations and Holidays: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Hanukkah, Memorial Day…
- Milestones: birthday, graduation, wedding, career, sobriety, anniversary…
- Storybook, Fairy Tales, Books, Movies: pirates, unicorns, fairies, elves, gnomes, ghouls, royalty, heroes, superheroes, villains…
- Nature and Science: forest, flowers, farming, space, gardening, hiking, exploring…
- Travel: favorite or bucket list destinations, homeland, time travel
- Hobbies: cooking, woodworking, knitting, sewing, running, sports, reading, puzzles, camping…
- People and Pets: real or fictitious, famous, family, life story, beloved pet…
- History: Prehistoric, medieval, ancient civilizations, Victorian…
- Garden: your dream garden or a mini version of your garden
How to Make a Low-Budget Fairy Garden
Buying miniatures for a fairy garden can get expensive.
To keep costs down, here are my suggestions:
- Use what you have and repurpose stuff.
Lots of kids’ toys, dollhouse miniatures, and Christmas decorations are perfect for fairy gardens.
- Make your own accessories with items like acorns, twigs, and polymer clay.
- Check yard sales, thrift shops, local online marketplaces for supplies.
- Use free natural materials from your garden (soil, grass, plants, twigs, stones).
3Choose a Scale
This tip is important and often overlooked.
In miniatures a common scale is 1:12. This is how the miniatures are sized in relation to their ‘real life’ counterparts, and how they are sized in relation to one another.
- Large Scale: 1:12 One inch in miniature equals one foot in real life.
- Medium Scale: One half inch in miniature equals one foot in real life.
By choosing a scale for all your fairy garden decor and accessories, everything will look right together—in proper proportions.
You don’t want a giant chair and a tiny table. Or massive plants and teeny houses.
Stick with one scale and your fairy garden will be instinctively pleasing to the eye.
Without this step, things may look mismatched and odd.
More Ideas for Kids
35 Playful & Practical Garden Ideas for Kids
Sow, grow, garden art & crafts, and outdoor imaginary play.
4Soil and Plants
Line the Container
If you are using a suitcase or some other container that is not entirely waterproof or rot-resistant, consider lining it with a plastic sheet.
Or, insert a more durable container inside.
If your fairy garden will be watered or exposed to rain, be sure there are drainage holes.
Depending on the plants and theme, you may fill the container with soil or potting mix, sand, stones, grass, moss, or some other material.
Your container may not last indefinitely but the liner will extend its life.
If you’re using real, living plants, you will need to provide the right potting mix for those plants.
If you are not using real plants, plain soil from your garden is fine to use.
Sometimes it is best to keep the tiny plants in containers.
You can hide or disguise the pots by burying them or covering them in moss, twigs, or pebbles so just the plants are above the soil.
What plants are good for fairy gardens?
Indoor Miniature Plants
- Dwarf Mondo Grass – Ophiopogon japonica ‘Nana’
- Baby Tears – Soleirolia soleirolii
- Corsican Mint – Mentha requienii
- Sugar Vine – Parthenocissus striata (aka Cissus striata)
- Zebra Haworthia – Haworthia fasciata
Outdoor Miniature Plants
- Just Dandy Dwarf Hinoki Cypress – Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Just Dandy’
- Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce – Picea glauca ‘Jean’s Dilly’
- Miniature Juniper – Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’
- Miniature Daisies – Bellium minuta
- Platt’s Black Brass Buttons – Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’
There are lots more plant suggestions and care tips here:
Moss or sections of grass lawn (sod) from your garden works nicely for greenspace: it may be living or purchased moss that can be glued in place.
You can also sow grass seeds or microgreens (and eat them too!).
I also like to add random plants from my garden. Here I’ve added a violet that was growing near the moss.
Paths and Ponds
Also consider adding small stones, pathways, and little ponds and fountains. The charm is in the details.
Natural decorations like tiny pinecones, acorns, twigs, leaves are free and add a realistic touch.
5Add Miniature Furnishings
The answers to these next questions about your fairy garden will send you in various directions.
- Do you want it realistic or fantastical?
- Do you want to add to your little garden over time or gather all your supplies at once?
- Do you want to make the decor by hand or purchase it or both?
- Do you want to add miniature lights?
There are so many fabulous mini garden furnishings available these days, that it can be hard to decide.
I’ll show you some ideas.
Create a Mini Pond
- To create water under this bridge, I used a blue glass flowerpot saucer. Another simple option is a small makeup mirror. Hide the mirror frame with stones or moss.
Set a Scene
The charm is in the details! This tiny lemonade jug with glasses and wee slices of lemon is my fave.
Only use tiny furnishing like this if your miniature garden is in a safe place, away from wind or rain. I have mine on a covered patio.
Fairies or No Fairies?
You decide. I prefer not to have any fairies, people, gnomes, trolls, etc. Instead, I like it to look like some tiny being was just there but fled when full-size humans came by.
But, your garden your choice.
Make it Quirky
Use what you have. Or make it.
All the cute accessories can get expensive. I started making my own from polymer clay (free tutorial here) and it was much easier than I expected.
Also, see if you have old toys or nick knacks you could use. Here I’ve added an old matchbox car (found in my garden) and a slice from a pruned branch, as a plant stand.
Add Natural Materials
Stones, twigs, small garden plants, leaves—all help naturalize the mini garden. Use what you have and change it up as desired.
If you love some sparkle, miniature string lights using a handy battery pack are essential.
6Caring for Your Outdoor Fairy Garden
Keep your fairy garden where you can enjoy it and protect it from wind and rain.
Keep the plants and moss watered as needed, and make sure the container has adequate drainage.
Change up the decor as desired. If you love making miniatures, there’s lots of ways to decorate a fairy garden for special occasions or the seasons.
I hope you have found lots of ideas. Now go make something wonderful!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
How to Make a Fairy Garden
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Suitcase At least 6-inches deep for living plants
- 1 sheet Plastic liner
- 1 bag Potting mix or soil
- 1 Moss
- 20 Stones, small
- 1 Miniature cottage
- 4 Miniature plants
- Miniature accessories
- Line suitcase with plastic liner and trim to size.
- Add drainage holes by drilling through bottom of suitcase if needed.
- Fill suitcase with potting mix (if using real plants) or soil, stopping an inch below lip of suitcase.
- Place cottage where you want it and create stone path to cottage.
- Plant living plants or insert pots into soil.
- Cover bare soil with moss, grass sod, or start seeds.
- Add miniature accessories as desired.
- Have fun with it and change up your decorations for seasons and celebrations.