It seemed simple at first

This is Part 4a of our Blog Series on how we created our large, outdoor fairy garden. We were learning as went along and all did not run as smoothly as we would have liked during this stage. You’ll soon discover why we’ve split Part 4 into two sections – A and B. 

The fairy village begins to come to life

In Part 3 we focused on getting the lay of the land sorted out (hardscaping). Once that was done we were ready to position our buildings.  This was a pretty exciting moment because, at last, we’d have some idea of what the final garden would look like. 

Without wasting any time I plopped out most of the buildings I’d collected, roughly following the plan we came up with in Part 2. While doing so I pictured where the paths, fences and other micro elements would go because they’d be the next things we’d set up. 


I had planned to put plants in at a later stage but it became clear that now was the time to plant some of them to ensure the buildings and vegetation were in harmony. A few of the plants are in place in the photo below (see Part 5 for more on choosing plants). 

I admit all looks quite messy but that’s just part of the process. When I stepped back and took in the project  at this point I was able to see past the confusion and envisage it completed … well almost

Enter Mother Nature

So, everything was progressing nicely and I went to bed that night with my head full of ideas for the next stage. But while I was dreaming of all things enchanted there was a torrential downpour that lasted hours. When the sky cleared enough the next day, I ventured outside to inspect the project. Eek! It was like a tsunami had struck! 

Much of our carefully placed soil had washed down hill (damn our sloping block) and unplanned rivers had toppled buildings. On top of that, the structures that were still standing were filthy. The rain had pelted down so hard it had splattered soil upwards, caking my much-loved houses. It was a mess!  


Everything happens for a reason

After dropping a few choice words I tried to look at this setback philosophically. The main problem was that the soil had been exposed during the storm. I hadn’t given much thought to ground cover up to this point, though I knew it was needed. It was a bummer but, in a weird way, the tsunami had been a blessing. It forced us to think this through.

The easy answer to our problem was to add mulch and/or ground cover plants. Mulch would work, but because our fairy garden is large, it would mean significant expanses of wood chips and that wasn’t the look the wee folk or I were after. Ground covers were also a good idea except that they take a long time to grow-in and all plants are fickle so we had no guarantee they would survive.

Ground cover alternatives

We decided we’d certainly use mulch and ground cover plants in some places but we needed alternatives. Where to find them? Google, of course! I should add here that the rain continued, almost without a break, for weeks. There was little I could do outdoors so I had plenty of time to research. 

Here’s what I found:

1. Artificial moss (type 1) 
These come in 1m x 1m sheets. They are made of some sort of plastic fibre and look very realistic. This version has ‘earth’ showing through the moss. (Google and/or Alli Express search ‘artificial moss’ or ‘artificial moss mats’)

2. Paving stones
These sheets of paving stones are 30cm x 30cm. We plan to use them for the town square and will use builder’s sand to fill the spaces between the stones. (Local hardware store)

3. Artificial moss (type 2)  
This is the same as number 1 (above) minus the ‘earth’. 

4. Pebbles
Available in a variety of sizes and colours. (Local hardware store)

5. Mulch (Local hardware store)

6. Artificial clover
Low, plastic vegetation in 50cm x 50cm sheets, typically used on green walls. (Local hardware store)

Problem solved!

Now that we have these alternatives it’s just a matter of working out how and where we’ll utilise them. If the rain ever stops, we’ll be able to start experimenting. 

    What’s next?

    In Part 4b of this series we put out the buildings (again!), but this time we include various forms of ground cover. 

    Happy Fairy Gardening one and all!