How to Make a Fairy Garden in 6 Easy Steps

Miniature fairy garden with a woodsy background

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Whether you want a crafty project that lets your kids' imagination run wild or a creative garden addition that’s sure to be a talking point, you don’t have to be a follower of folklore to design a fairy garden. 

Not sure where to start with your whimsical wonderland plans? We’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide for how to make an enchanting fairy garden, regardless of the location and your available space and budget.

What Is a Fairy Garden?

Fairy gardens are typically miniature indoor or outdoor decorative gardens with an enchanted, story-telling theme—perfect places for magical pixies or sprites to visit when no one is looking. Usually put together in some sort of container with fairy-sized plants and accessories, you are only limited by your imagination — and budget — in terms of what you include.

1. Choose Your Fairy Garden Location

First, you need to decide if you want to invite the fairies into your house or to a spot in your yard. Outside, you can incorporate existing eco-friendly and realistic elements from your garden into the design—think plants, tree stumps, water features, or old concrete bird baths—but your accessories must be weatherproof.

You can add more delicate details inside, but space might be more limited.

2. Choose Your Theme

Select a theme or story to guide what plants and accessories you’ll want to include in your fairy garden design. Picking something that fits in with existing garden features can help make the task less complex and costly.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few fairy garden ideas:

  • Beach theme—ideal if you already have a big shell collection or a xeriscape yard
  • Woodland wonderland
  • Cottage garden
  • Fairy village
  • Fairy characters from books or movies, like Tinkerbell or Puck
  • Rivers and waterfalls

3. Make a Plan 

You’ve settled on a theme; now it’s time to flesh out a plan — even if it is rough — for setting up your fairy garden and the supplies you’ll need. Have a focal point to help draw visitors' eyes to the design and avoid cluttering the design with too many plants and accessories.

4. Choose Your Fairy Garden Container

Unless you have a sprawling fairy garden in a section of your yard landscape, like a raised bed, you’ll need a container to build your fantasy world in. But don’t rush out to buy a planter or a fairy garden craft kit. There’s a good chance you’ll have something already in your garden or garage that will make an ideal fairy haven. Some ideas include:

  • Old wheelbarrow
  • Tree stump
  • Tin bucket
  • Baby bath
  • Terrarium 
  • Birdbath
  • Rattan basket (best for indoors)
  • Teacups (if you’re going particularly pocket-sized)

You want a container with good drainage if you are going to incorporate living plants into your design.

5. Pick Your Plants and Potting Mix

Consider your theme and location when selecting plant size, texture, and colour. Pick plants that suit the light your location offers. You don’t want sun-loving species if your fairy garden is in a shady spot. 

Bunching plants with the same care requirements creates the perfect hiding spots for visiting nymphs, but don’t pick so many that it overcrowds the container. You want space for accessories and other decorative elements.

Low-growing, small-leaf plants work well to create the sense of scale you need. Small succulents, herbs, and sprawling, low-maintenance ground covers are all good candidates. Slow-growing, evergreen species offer year-round interest, and you won’t have to worry about them quickly getting unruly and outgrowing the garden.  Always choose species with similar care requirements.

Below are some popular fairy garden plants:

Make sure the potting mix you pick works for the plants featured in your fairy garden, and if you need extra drainage, add a layer of pea gravel to the bottom of your container.

And, if you’ve got a brown thumb or want plants that don’t fit your chosen location's conditions, don’t be afraid to integrate artificial ones into your fairy garden design.

6. Position Your Accessories

Now comes the most fun part: decorating. You’ve got so many options for decorating your garden, and you can add to it over time. Will you include some fairy figurines or just have furnishings for the native nymphs to come and use?

Some fun items you can include in your fairy garden are:

  • Sculpting clay for bespoke accessories
  • Natural items, like bark and acorns
  • Popsicle sticks for fairy fencing
  • Birdhouses for Brownie bungalows
  • Broken but blunt tiles for steps or cladding
  • Pebble tables
  • Twine for ladders or swings
  • Mirrors to recreate the look of a pond
  • How do you maintain a fairy garden?

    How much maintenance your fairy garden needs depends on its size and what you include in the design. If it features living plants, you’ll need to water (and possibly fertilize) them, and they might need pruning or pinching to keep them fairy-sized.

    Your garden might need protection or to be moved indoors in harsh winters, and figurines and other decorative elements will need cleaning and a new application of polyurethane sealant occasionally to keep them weatherproof.

  • What should be in a fairy garden?

    What you include in your fairy garden depends on its location, chosen theme, available space, and budget. Typically, there will be a selection of petite plants and decorative fairy-themed accessories within some sort of container.

  • What is the purpose of a fairy garden?

    Fairy gardens connect us with nature, unleash our creativity and imagination, and can be a fun project for kids or to tap into your inner child. It also adds unique interest to your yard—perfect to create a talking point with your neighbors.