How To Make A Kid-Friendly Fairy Garden

There is something really magical about working with your children to make a Fairy Garden. As with most things magic, I can’t quite put my finger on what makes it so. Perhaps it’s a combination of many things… working with moss and miniature is always charming. As is working with your children, especially when you are invited into their imaginations and can glimpse a little of what is true for them. This is a gift we don’t often get. Add some creativity, thoughts of fairies and gnomes, a little pixie dust and it’s an enchanting experience for all of us. I’m super excited to share this Fairy Garden tutorial with you on how we made our magical garden this year.


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How To Make A Fairy Garden


How to make a kid friendly fairy garden :: the Magic Onions ::

Making a Fairy Garden has become a family tradition for us. Each Spring, we start to collect ideas and little treasures. And then, at Spring Break, when the children are home, we start our new garden.

1. Selecting the right container for your Fairy Garden

We have been reading Treasure Island as our bedtime story and Kitty thought it would be fun if we could find an old treasure chest to plant our new Fairy Garden in. ‘Yea’, I thought skeptically… as if we can just find an old treasure chest. But, as often happens when you really want something, an old treasure chest we found! We have a swap meet in our area with all sorts of odds and ends and A Good Man knew that’s where we’d find just what we were looking for. He was right!

Our chest is big and took a lot of soil. A Fairy Garden can be planted in all sorts of containers, big and small… wine barrels, garden pots, even an old car tire… in fact, your (and your child’s) imagination is the limit.

It is important to make sure your container has good drainage. As you will probably be planting moss, your children will be watering it a lot and adequate drainage is a must. Our treasure chest had no drainage, so I put my ‘big bit’ onto my drill (that I got from Father Christmas :-) and drilled 8 holes into the bottom.



A Good Man is a carpenter and is deathly opposed to water and soil going onto wood (it will rot in a month, he said), so we decided to do our best to waterproof our treasure chest. We bought a pail of ‘Rubber Coat’ (found at most hardware stores) and painted the inside of our chest with this water proofing substance. It’s not totally waterproof by any standards but hopefully it will do the trick and keep our chest strong and sturdy.


You can use this paint to waterproof most containers that need waterproofing… a few coats should do the trick.


Use it in a well ventilated area and let children use it with caution… it’s very sticky and will ruin clothes and stay on hands for days. I let Kitty and Teddy each have a turn to make them think they were doing all the hard work, but in reality each only painted a few strokes.


Make sure the drainage holes stay open and are not clogged with rubber paint. Let the Rubber Coat dry fully as per the instructions on the pail.


2. Designing your Fairy Garden

While our paint was drying, we designed our garden.


Kitty and Teddy discussed the features they wanted in their garden. A tree of course. And a pond. Kitty thought it would be great to have some height and I suggested we use an old tree stump that had already (for some reason?) been cut into a quarter. Teddy wanted a cave. While we discussed all manner of Fairy Garden details, Kitty drew our design on a piece of paper and marked where each feature would go.


Then, with our design drawn, we made a list of the plants that would best suite our design.


3. Choosing the right plants for your Fairy Garden.

When choosing plants for your Fairy Garden, be mindful of the scale you are after. You want it to look like a miniature garden, a place where fairies and gnomes look totally in place. Moss is often the main ground cover and too many other plants may detract from the mossy atmosphere. Let your imagination run wild as you choose plants that you think might attract the fairies in your neighborhood.

Also, keep in mind the color combination … silvers, light greens, dark greens, browns… we like as many colors as possible as it adds texture and interest to our Fairy Garden. Plants that have little flowers are perfect.

Make sure the plants you choose all like the same amount of sun and water. If you are going to be using moss, remember that moss likes sun to part shade and lots of water… choose other plants that like the same. If you are going for a desert garden look, pebbles, rocks and various cacti look wonderful, but do make sure that too many prickles won’t deter your little ones from playing in their magical creation.

We find that a tree is often the focal point of our Fairy Garden and it’s important to choose a plant that ‘looks like’ a tree from a fairy’s perspective. There are many plants and shrubs that are ideal with a little trimming. In the past, we have used a Tea Tree which stays wonderfully small if trimmed regularly. And, a Tea Tree has such pretty and small flowers which are sure to become integral parts of your little one’s Fairy Garden play… water lilies that float in the pond, confetti or gnome food, to name just a few.

But this year, Kitty wanted her tree to be a TALL tree and so we chose a honeysuckle instead. We fashioned it into the perfect tree by taking away the lowest branches, giving it the appearance of having a nice strong trunk. I know we will need to ‘bonzi’ it regularly to keep it manageable but fairy garden-work is one of the continuous joys to your child’s Fairy Garden.

Here are the plants we decided upon…
Moss (as our treasure chest is large, we needed two flats)
white Sea Pinks (we love how their white flowers stick out above their greenery)
Our Honeysuckle
A Strawberry plant (which BunBuns ate before we had time to plant it)
A miniature Pansy (which BunBuns ate before we had time to plant it)


4. Planting your Fairy Garden.

Then, with our Rubber Coat paint dry, we filled our treasure chest with soil. We used old soil from a pile in the garden for the most part and then potting soil for the top 3 inches.

Teddy stomped it well so that the soil compacted to about 2 inches below the top of our chest.


As per our design plan, we laid the plants in the places they would go.


Then we planted them, leaving the moss for last.


The moss can be cut to shape and size using a sharp knife.


With the moss in, the garden is level with the top of the chest. Perfect for easy playing.


The cave was a fun addition that needed a lot of working out. We decided upon a small terracotta flower pot and surrounded it with moss to make it look like a little hidden getaway for a gnome.
Kitty and Teddy added the finishing touches…

A pebble path leading to the cave.


Kitty worked and BunBuns, when she wasn’t eating our new plants, helped too.


For the pond, we used a coconut shell but anything waterproof will work just as well… a bowl, a dish, a cup.


And then Kitty filled the pond with water in the afternoon sun.


And, hung a tire swing (tutorial on how we made this tire swing is to follow in another post).


And a wishing well (tutorial on how we made our wishing well to follow in another post).


Below the tree stump was the perfect place for a peaceful bench.


And then an arbor went up and some gardening tools for fairies and gnomes found their way into the garden.

And all was complete and ready for play.


Kitty has played in her garden at every available opportunity… it’s magical to watch an 8 year-old immersed in her own imaginings, out in the fresh air with fairies and gnomes her friends. At 8, childhood is still living strong inside her.
Tutorial : Fairy Garden : The Magic Onions :


I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how our Fairy Garden came together. And I hope we have inspired you to get your kids to help you make one too. I promise, it’ll be one of the most special things you’ll ever do together.


5. Fairy Garden Contest

Each year, we host a Fairy Garden Contest, from April to August – click the Fairy Garden tab in the Navigation bar to enter this year’s Fairy Garden Contest… they prizes are AMAZING!

Need more inspiration… be sure to check out these Fairy Garden links…

Important Fairy Garden Links :

Fairy Garden Page with lots of photos, links and ideas, tutorials and instructions.

2014 Fairy Garden Contest Rules and Entry Form


Fairy Gardens : Pinterest : The Magic Onions

Happy Fairy Gardening,

Blessings and magic,

Please sign up to receive delightful Fairy Garden tips and special features… BONUS : subscribers go into the monthly draw to win special gifts from The Magic Onions Shop.


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28 Responses

  1. a truly magical post…I look forward to the day when my granddaughter is old enough to play in my fairy garden with me. In the meantine, it gives me hours of pleasure weeding and watering as I am sure yours do too.

  2. I laughed so much about BunBuns eating the plants! I know what it is like to have rabbits!

    How did the children take that ‘loss’?
    Sandy in the UK
    I must look out for some children to borrow and do this with!

  3. This is wonderful! Thank you for all the pictures. I found you via the Natural Kids Etsy Group :) I pinned this on a collaborative board I contribute to. My kiddos & I will definitely be making houses with you this year… and they want to make one at home & one at Grandma’s where we’ll be spending our sumer!

  4. Too funny! My daughter and I have been making plans and gathering supplies to make our first fairy garden and now you are hosting this fairy garden piece! We’re looking forward to sharing photos of our creation and seeing what everyone else designs as well!
    ~ joey ~

  5. I love your fairy garden. Being disabled I can no longer take care of all my large perennial gardens so I have been giving my plants away to friends and allowing the gardens to go back to grass.
    Having the fairy garden in a trunk is a wonderful way for me to still be able to have a small garden to enjoy and a place for my gnomes. I am the coordinator for a nonprofit org. for artists, most with disabilities and of course most of us love gardening. Is it OK if I share the link to your blog in our newsletter?

  6. Hi Deborah, thanks so much for the comment. I hadn’t thought of that perspective of a Fairy Garden. I can see how it can be wonderful for people with disabilities to work in the miniature and be creative with a garden again. Thank you for sharing this. I’d be honored for you to share this link in your newsletter.
    Blessings and magic,

  7. Hi Deborah, thanks so much for the comment. I hadn’t thought of that perspective of a Fairy Garden. I can see how it can be wonderful for people with disabilities to work in the miniature and be creative with a garden again. Thank you for sharing this. I’d be honored for you to share this link in your newsletter.
    Blessings and magic,

  8. This is just adorable! I can’t wait to get started on one with my daughter–we’ve been collecting a few things for it. I do have a question–do you have any idea what type of moss you use for your gardens? I went to my local Home Depot asking if they had flats of moss and the guy looked at me like I’d grown another head and slowly shook his head “no”! I live in Missouri, so I can’t think it would be that odd of a request, but I thought I’d try someplace else if you knew the type. Thanks so much!

  9. I love it! And, that’s the kind of tutorial I was needing… thanks!

    I hope your children & you have many happy hours enjoying your Fairy Garden!

  10. This was just the most awesome post! I love it and now want to make a fairy garden with my grand kids.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Marvelous job on your family’s fairy garde this year. It is particularly interesting in that old time treasure trrunk. The planting and arrangement of details is very imaginative. I’ll be sure to keep on working on mine. I have several ion the patio. The just need some TLC!

  12. How delightful that you found that treasure chest! I noticed how much your children have grown since last year’s competition– as have mine as evidenced by last year’s photos. That’s what children do… though I’m so happy to hear that the magic of childhood is still strong in your eight year old. My girl is on the brink of seven!! Love that picture of Kitty pouring the water in the sunshine. Magic!

    1. Hi Christina, thanks for being here. I’ve just popped over to your lovely blog to see your sweet fairy gardens. LOVE them! Especially the little fairy house. LOVE that!
      xo Donni

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