DIY Children's Garden for Imaginative Play
Bambino and I spent time this weekend working outside — not the hard work of weeding or tidying up. That still needs to be done. But one of his birthday gifts this year needed to get into the ground: a Dinosaur Garden. Now, to be clear, it isn’t just for dinosaurs. During the inaugural play several dinosaurs moved in along with some cars, a snake, a crab, an airplane, and a magic crystal. I suspect there will be other occupants as well! But I wanted to give Bambino a place in the dirt that was his own — and a fun place to play, too.
This is an easy project. If you have a bit of dirt — even on a patio — you can have a dinosaur garden. We happen to have some raised vegetable beds, so I turned one of those into the garden. But you could use a small tub, a wading pool, a corner of your yard… even an old sand box. You simply need a container that will hold a bit of earth.
a few plants
Sweet Alyssum (purple and white)
Shop Your Yard
The previous occupants of our home left behind years of detritus which we haven’t completely cleared away, because it is the perfect raw material for projects like this. So into our backyard heap we went and came away with some red bricks, rocks, an old stump, a big stick, and a PVC pipe. My husband cut down the pipe into a few shorter lengths, and then we got to work.
Use what you have — or go for a walk in your neighborhood and use what you can find. This does not need to be an expensive project. The only things we bought were the plants — and we could have done those from seed, but I didn’t get them started early enough. Next year!
Since our bed was already filled with dirt, we started by weeding a bit and breaking the earth up after a winter’s rest. Bambino was delighted to find a few worms and caterpillars right away.
Place Large Items First
We then placed the stump and larger elements. Bambino used a trowel to draw out the road. We buried the bricks in the dirt to serve as the road surface. We also half-buried the pipe which acts as a tunnel in the dirt. We placed larger stones on each side of the pipe to hold it in place. And we half-buried two smaller pieces of pipe to serve as caves.
Arrange the Plants
Then we placed the plants. Our spot is sunny, so with a little guidance, Bambino chose all sun-loving plants including a sunflower, petunias, Dusty Miller, potato vine, and a few succulents which were on sale. I also picked up some Sweet Alyssum which grows well between rocks, and our neighbor gave us a zucchini plant which may be transplanted later, but we stuck it in for now.
Fill in Rocks & Mulch
We worked together getting all of the plants into their homes, and then we added more rocks and stones as well as some wood chip mulch.
Water & Play!
After a good watering, the dinosaur garden is complete! And dinosaurs, cars, and a giant crab have moved in. Perhaps your garden may have some fairies or a gnome or two. I’m thinking we may need a tomte!
The day after, Bambino raced outside to check on his garden. He said, “It is so beautiful! I can’t wait to play in it!” But first he carefully brushed off the roadways and tidied it all up after our evening rain. I hope I am growing a gardener bit by bit.