How to Grow a Fairy Garden

What Is a Fairy Garden? 

It is a miniature garden, usually in a container, which is filled with small plants and accessories.

Why should you grow a fairy garden?

Here are a few good reasons:

  • Add a little whimsy or fun to your gardening space, 
  • involve the kids in a garden craft project that's the right size for little hands, 
  • disguise an unsightly feature in your landscape, 
  • highlight some tiny plants that might otherwise be lost among the rest of the garden,
  • showcase cute, miniature garden statues, attractive rocks or other pretty trinkets that you enjoy.

How to Plan Your Fairy Garden Landscaping

Follow these steps to plan your fairy garden:

1. Choose a Location

First, you need to choose a good location for the garden. It could be in a pot inside, outside in a container, in a flower bed, at the base of a tree, next to a garden pond - the possibilities are endless. You can incorporate an unsightly feature of your landscape, such as a tree stump, fire hydrant, retaining wall, broken paver or old bricks.

2. Select a Theme

Most fairy gardens will have some type of theme to guide the design. For example, you might choose a cottage, woodland, rock garden or coastal design (see below), plan the garden around a favorite character or decorative motif, or go with an artsy eclectic look.

Kit or DIY?

Next, you should decide if you will purchase a fairy garden kit or set, which will come with all the accessories you need, or if you prefer to design your garden yourself.

Decide on a Container or Boundary

A fairy garden doesn't have to be grown in a container, but most fairy gardens have some kind of boundary, whether manmade (tiny fence or hedge or the edge of the pot), or natural (edges of a tree stump). Use your imagination when selecting a container - it might be a plant pot, dish, terrarium, planter box or just a section of a flower bed. I love this fairy garden in a suitcase on the Empress of Dirt blog!

Choose Plants and Accessories

The most fun part of planning your fairy garden is choosing the plants and accessories you will use.  Keep in mind the theme that you have chosen, and the scale of the location and container you selected.

Sketch the Layout

The final planning step is to draw a rough sketch of the garden layout, or use a stick to draw it out on top of the soil.

Now you are ready to build your fairy garden!

How to Build a Fairy Garden

Start with the container or location you have chosen. Then add a base of potting soil, and use a stick or the tip of a trowel to draw a rough outline of your fairy garden landscaping plan.

Next, add the larger elements, like bigger plants, rocks or larger accessories like houses or water features. Add the remaining landscape elements such as bridges, fences, rock paths, etc. Then fill in with your smaller plants and accessories.

Fairy Garden Themes

When planning your fairy garden, think about the theme or style that you would like to follow, and plan your landscaping and accessories accordingly.  Here are some possible fairy garden themes:

  • Woodland
  • Coastal - this will feature shells, water elements, sand, etc
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Tiny fairy garden - this can be built in a teacup or other small container
  • Farm - this might feature a tiny barn, farm animal statues, hay bales, etc
  • Fantasy or enchanted garden, with fairy statues or other themed statues (make a Star Wars garden, Lego garden, or any other favorite genre)
  • Zen fairy garden - this might be quite minimalist, with sand and rocks
  • Zoo themed garden - this might include zoo animal statues, dinosaurs, pets, or other animal figurines

Fairy Garden Supplies

A fairy garden will typically require some supplies that you want to make sure to have on hand:

  • Containers and planters for fairy gardens
  • Potting soil
  • Rocks and pebbles
  • Glass / beads / sea glass
  • Moss
  • Twigs, wood slices, or other wood items
  • Pinecones, gourds, etc
  • Fairy garden plants
  • Accessories

Fairy Garden Plants

What kind of plants do you put in a fairy garden? 

There are really two main criteria: 

  1. Select plants that will stay fairly small, and/or are quite slow-growing,
  2. Choose plants that have similar light and water requirements, and are suited to the location you have selected.

If you are only planning to keep your fairy garden for a few weeks (such as for the holidays, or a special occasion) then these requirements are less important. Just remember that if you decide to plant a cactus together with a water-loving plant in your fairy garden, they will not both thrive for very long:  either the cactus will eventually suffer from rot, or the water-loving plant will wilt and die.

These are some good plants to consider for a fairy garden setup:

For more ideas about the best plants to select for your fairy garden, read this article on choosing fairy garden plants.

Fairy Garden Accessories

The fun part of building a fairy garden is selecting the accessories that you want to include, such as statues, buildings or other items.

To keep it from seeming too cluttered, stick with a theme for your accessories, then select statues, landscape elements, furniture, miniature buildings or other items to fit your theme.

These are some of the types of accessories you might want to consider:

  • Seasonal & holiday accessories
  • Statues: fairies, gnomes, etc
  • Houses / Barns & other buildings
  • Benches, tables & other furniture
  • Landscaping elements: bridges, doors, fences, etc
  • Signs
  • Animals and birds
  • Water features: mini ponds, fountains, birdbaths
  • Light features: solar lights, light strings, etc
  • Other accessories

For more suggestions on accessories to select for your fairy garden, read this article about fairy garden accessories.

Fairy Garden Kit

If you are looking for an easy, straightforward way to build your fairy garden, then a kit might be a good way to go. By choosing a fairy garden kit, you'll start with a proven layout and base for your garden, and you can personalize it by adding special plants or accessories to make the garden your own.

DIY Fairy Garden Ideas

If you want to design and build your own fairy garden, here are a few do-it-yourself ideas:

How to Create a Fairy Garden Outdoors

You don't have to build your fairy garden in an indoor container. These are just a few ideas for an outdoor fairy garden:

* Build your fairy garden at the base of a tree, using the tree roots in your design,

* Create a feature in your flower bed,

* Fill in a bare patch in your garden (maybe it doesn't get enough sun or rain),

* Disguise an unsightly feature like a tree stump or fire hydrant (see the "tooth fairy home" here which is cleverly disguising an old stump).

Indoor Fairy Garden Ideas

A fairy garden in a pot can make a great alternative to a traditional indoor houseplant. Just choose your container, and select plants that fit with the available sunlight and watering schedule you prefer.

How to Make a Cheap Fairy Garden

Small plants are very inexpensive, and if you make the fairy garden accessories yourself then this can be a cheap alternative to buying a large, costly houseplant.

DIY Fairy Garden Accessories

If you enjoy craft activities, then it can be very easy to make your own fairy garden accessories, like the twig fairy furniture above. Here are a few other ideas: 

  • Use sculpting clay to make tiny table and chairs, toadstools, or little animals, fairies or gnomes.
  • Glue twigs or wire together to form a little fence or ladder. 
  • Make use of discarded toys, such as figurines, marbles or toy animals.
  • Paint and decorate small wooden elements from the craft store, such as birdhouses, tiny carts or other items.
  • Decorate tiny terra cotta pots, or combine a saucer and pot to make a birdbath.
  • Use broken pottery pieces as little stepping stones or stone steps.

Create a Holiday Fairy Garden

A seasonal fairy garden can be a fun way to decorate for the holidays. These are just a few options:

  • Winter wonderland for Christmas,
  • Use bunnies and colored eggs in your garden for Easter,
  • Gourds, pine cones and a tiny turkey figurine for Thanksgiving.

Build a Fairy Garden with Stacked Garden Pots

You can use little ladders or stepping stones to connect the different levels or add fairy doors on the side of the pots.

Birdhouse Fairy Garden

Design your garden around a tiny birdhouse centerpiece. Choose a cute birdhouse, or decorate your own from a wooden model from the craft store. Then add some bird figurines, a little bird bath, tiny flowering alpine plants, or bonsai trees.

Fairy Herb Garden

Use herbs to create a fairy garden that is fun, pretty, aromatic and useful at the same time!

Use lavender or rosemary to create miniature bushes or trees, chives with their small purple globular flowers, and thyme for a great tiny groundcover.

Learn more about growing a herb garden container here.

Planter Face-Lift

Do you have a planter box where no plant wants to grow? No problem - just build a fairy garden around it, filling in the bare patches with rock paths, tiny landscape elements and accessories. You can do the same thing with a bare patch in your flower bed where nothing wants to grow.

Broken Pot Fairy Garden

Do you have a pot that you love, but it's broken beyond repair? No problem - turn it into a fairy garden!

Pot up the whole part of the container, and use broken pieces to create a little staircase or "retaining wall" across the front.

Tree House Garden

You can use the base of a tree and a fairy door, and build a little landscape around that to create a tiny tree house garden.

Terrarium Fairy Garden

A terrarium can create a great fairy garden because it is already a small, contained environment.  Add some small terrarium plants (ferns, cryptanthus, mosses) or rocks and airplants, with a few statues or small polished stones.

Next, choose the right plants for your fairy garden and select your accessories.

Want to explore other ideas for gardens in pots? Learn how to grow a cactus garden container.