Planning to plan
This is the second in our series of posts on how we created our outdoor fairy garden. Your can find Part 1 here. To achieve magical results, a large-scale fairy garden requires a bit of forethought and planning, as well as loads of creativity.
I worked with my gardener, Nathan when building ours. Being 20-something, he wasn’t bursting with enthusiasm when I first broached the idea. But after sharing some of the amazing images I’d collected while googling ‘large fairy gardens‘ Nathan was hooked. This is a project kids would love getting involved in too!
Before we started construction we realised that we needed a plan. Nothing fancy mind you, just a rough sketch of the layout to ensure we were both on the same page. And before we could do that we had to consider:
Positioning: where we were going to build it (land size, slope, lighting, existing vegetation), and
Style: what we hoped it would look like when complete (the key elements, layout, overall look and feel).
Positioning – where will it go?
We chose a long, sloped, triangular garden bed in the backyard for our fairy garden.
There were several reasons for this selection:
- The plot was big enough to build an entire village (I tend to go over the top)
- It was near an existing swing and treehouse so we knew children would gravitate towards the area (although adults seem to like the fairy garden almost as much as the kids)
- The garden bed was not in a full sun position. Most dwarf plants, suitable for miniature gardens, prefer a damp, shady spot or dappled sunlight. They don’t thrive if it’s too bright, hot or dry.
- We hadn’t planted anything in that bed as yet, so it was pretty much empty and good to go, and
- There was a large tree in one corner that was a perfect spot for fairy doors and windows.
When choosing the right spot for your fairy garden, size and light are the two main factors to consider.
The photo below shows you our fairy garden location. The small castle on the path is actually our water feature, not yet in position.
Our plan is to grow yellow banksia roses on the fence to brighten things up. They are great because they are evergreen, hardy and the flowers are small yet prolific. They’ll look fabulous dotted with fairy lights!
Style – what will it look like?
These days fairy gardens can be more than mushroom houses, tiny flying people and cobbled paths – there are many different styles to choose from. Ours has something from most of the styles in the list below, but you may have something special in mind.
- Woodland / Forest life
- Gypsy / Boho Garden
- Flowery Wonderland
- Mermaid / Pirate / Beach
- Enchanted Village (our main style)
- Witches City
- Dragonland, and
- Halloween / Spookyville
You can choose any or all of these styles for your Fairy Garden or even create a style of your own. There are no rules, so you can let your creativity run wild.
The trick is to make sure the final result is seamless, cohesive and … well … magical.
Fairy garden homes & accessories
Once we worked out our style/s and where the garden would be positioned, we considered accessories.
Make or buy?
You can buy or make Fairy Garden items like homes, fences, playgrounds, bridges, ponds and walls. If clever enough, you might even want to try making fairies, gnomes and dragons.
If you have the time and skill, making your own pieces is very satisfying. There are lots of examples of DIY Fairy Garden homes and other accessories online. The thing to keep in mind is that if you need to buy all the materials to make them, it might end up costing as much, if not more, than purchasing ready-made pieces. For that very reason we made some pieces, but ended up purchasing the majority.
Luckily, Fairy Gardens are so popular these days that you can buy almost anything your heart desires! I scoured online offerings. I even found some large aquarium and reptile decor that’s useful for an enchanted village and picked up several cute fairy things in discount stores and charity shops.
When choosing Fairy Garden homes and accessories make sure they are sturdy and suitable for outdoor use. We found metal and resin/poly accessories are best. If making things, factor in weather resistance and use a glue suitable for outdoors.
If you want to extend the life of your accessories and keep them in tip top condition, spray them with a clear, weather proof sealer. Your hardware store will be able to recommend suitable products.
I discovered the hard way that some accessories are designed for micro gardens, like those for a small containers, plant pots and terrariums. Micro items (sometimes listed as mini) are too small for a large-scale fairy gardens.
Solar fairy garden houses come in a wide variety of awesome styles, including shops, and are able to light up at night. Most are made to a similar scale that’s large enough for big gardens. They can be a bit costly but are specifically designed for outdoor use which is a huge plus.
If buying online, the size of fairy garden outdoor furniture, bridges, gates, etc is a bit hit and miss. Micro items are often marked as such, but the size of other items tend to vary. Then again, I guess fairy folk come in different shapes and sizes too so maybe a variety makes sense.
Dolls house accessories
Doll’s house furniture is made to a 1:12 scale and these work well size-wise with solar houses. The problem is that most (not all) doll house accessories are designed for indoor use and are not robust enough for weather extremes.
As the photo below shows, I went a tad overboard with my accessories. I’m almost a fairy garden hoarder! These items are all made of resin, metal or a combination of both so they can withstand the weather.
This disorganised pile doesn’t look very impressive at the moment but just wait until things are in place. And yes, there are lots more bits and pieces in the plastic boxes!
Sketching a Fairy Garden plan
We drafted our plan after we had a good idea about our:
- plot size and location
- Fairy Garden style/s (ours is primarily an Enchanted Village), and
- the type and number of accessories we were going to use.
Planning helps clarify what will go where, but you don’t need to have any accessories before drafting a plan.
In fact a plan can be used to help you decide what you need to buy or make. The process of thinking things through in advance saved us a lot of time and effort when construction began and it sparked off some great ideas too!
Our plan is below. Wellll … a prettied-up version of it. Our real plan was a messy pencil sketch that worked for us but was far from blog-worthy. I glammed it up for you.
As you can see, all we did was draw the shape of the garden bed – in our case a triangle – then blocked in areas for the different parts of our Village. As promised, we even included a special mountain for Dark beings. The plan was quick and easy to create and was a really helpful exercise.
You only need to add enough detail in the plan to give you a general idea of the layout. If you’re including a stream you may want to include that too.
The plan is only a guide; it may change when you start building … but that’s a subject for a different post.
In Part 3 of this series we explore how we prepared the lay of the land – Fairy Garden hardscaping.
Our plot was sloped so we took advantage of this by adding tiers. We endeavoured to make it look as interesting and realistic as possible.
Until then, happy Fairy Garden planning one and all!