Make a Mini Garden for Backyards Patios and Sunrooms
By: R. Renée Bembry
Making a miniature garden is sort of like setting up a small fish tank except you deal with plants and dirt instead of fish and water. Both types of setups are fun and look fantastic when maintained because their essence revolves around creative displays of small objects. Making miniature gardens is a great way to utilize household items or goods hanging around garages and sheds awaiting newfound recognition; and speaking of fish tanks, gardeners who happen to have unused fish tanks can turn them into miniature garden terrariums.
The first point this beginner guide to miniature garden making would like to stress is that gardeners do not need to purchase all new materials to make miniature gardens. As noted earlier, gardeners who have unused items that can hold dirt and plants or that can beautify mini gardens should feel free to utilize those items. After all, the green era in which we live encourages us to renew, reuse, and recycle. These three “R” rules of conservation are good for the planet and good for our wallets and thus can keep miniature garden making costs down.
Miniature Garden Display Intentions:
Whether choosing to display your miniature garden in your backyard, patio, sunroom, or inside the home this beginners’ guide to making a miniature garden will indicate items in which mini gardens can be displayed, suggest ideas of how to setup displays, and inform beginning gardeners how to care for their miniature gardens once they are completed.
What Types of Containers Transform into Miniature Gardens:
Any type of receptacle capable of holding soil and plants can suffice for containing miniature gardens. This is because there is no size limit for mini gardening. Gardeners can make their miniature gardens as small or as big as they want. The containers in which they set their plants will dictate the miniature garden size.
Many homeowners and apartment dwellers hold on to pots and pot like containers after replacing them with new ones just in case the old ones might come in handy one day. This is reasonable since most of the time old pot like containers look worn yet are still capable of holding contents placed inside of them.
Using unused containers under these circumstances is a good way to reuse items already in the home and can save on miniature gardening expenses. In furtherance, remember you can set your mini garden display any place you want, including out of doors. Therefore, no need exists to worry about minor flaws. For these reasons seeking out old receptacles with broken handles, scratches, scrapes, chips, fading paint, and similar imperfections is a great way to begin miniature garden making.
Gardeners could pull items such as cooking pots with broken handles out the backs of cabinets. Take ten-year-old plastic bowls and pitchers from the backs of storage shelves. Pull dusty coolers and fish tanks from behind dusty boxes in garages. Grab birdbaths no longer quenching birdie thirsts, waterfalls no longer spewing water, wheelbarrows with broken handles or wheels, old flowerpots or plantlet flats stacked in sheds for rainy days, and fish tanks no longer utilized for fish. All of these can easily be turned into miniature gardens and strategically displayed to adorn a home.
Of course, it is understandable, that not all gardeners looking to make miniature gardens will find suitable used items about the home and thus will need to purchase items for their mini garden containers. When buying containers for mini garden displays gardeners still may be able to keep their expenses down by shopping at thrift stores, purchasing items from garden centers that are on sale, or by picking up suitable items at yard sales.
Gardening Soil and Plant Choices:
Once gardeners select containers for mini gardens they determine how much soil they will need and how many plants they will need by the size of their container. If the container is a one-gallon container, for instance, gardeners will need to purchase a small bag of gardening soil to fill the container. One-gallon containers will not suffice for very many plants, however. The exact amount of plants to fill the container will depend on the type of plants gardeners select. Choosing dwarf plants for miniature gardens is often a good idea however it is not vital. Choosing spreading plants can help cover container flaws.
When mixing plant varieties, plant selection becomes more important because all plants do not require the same amount of growing space. Gardeners should decide whether to grow houseplants or outdoor plants. Gardeners should also read card tags to determine how tall plants will grow and how wide they will spread. One-gallon containers actually work best for cactus plants. Many cacti such as moon cactus grow small and do not need a lot of room. Mini gardeners can place four or five moon cactus in a one-gallon container, depending on the width of the container, and not worry about spacing.
Larger containers, such as wheelbarrows could accommodate a dozen or more plants. Again, bear in mind, this depends on the types of plants chosen for the mini gardens. Gardeners should read card tags for guidance.
Whatever size containers gardeners use they must be sure to select potting soil that meets the nutritive needs of their plants. Selecting plants that require the same living environment as far as soil, watering, and sun or shade levels will make maintaining mini gardens easier than selecting plants with differing needs.
Choose Miniature Garden Decorations:
Many department stores and nurseries sell decorative items such as frogs, mushrooms, bumblebees, grasshoppers, lighthouses, and so forth that make nice little additions to miniature garden displays. Again – picking up items at thrift stores and the like will help suppress costs.
Add toy like decorations to your display by pressing them securely into the soil. Add small rocks or pebbles for natural earthy looks.
Preparing a Container for Planting:
After selecting suitable miniature garden containers, gardeners may need to allow for proper plant drainage by drilling holes in container bottoms or pounding nails through containers to insert holes. Only do this if containers are not breakable and you are 100 percent certain you will never again use household items for their original intended purpose.
As an alternative to hole making, gardeners could setup their miniature gardens terrarium style. When treating miniature gardens as terrariums, gardeners may use fish tanks or other types of glass containers since no drilling or hammering come into play.
Setup terrarium style mini gardens using pebbles, small rocks, beach stones, marbles, or gravel at the bottom layer. Add activated charcoal on top of the lower surface. Charcoal provides filtering to keep mini garden terrariums fresh. On top of the charcoal, add gardening soil and then fill with plants and decorations.
If you want your container to be a different color, paint it and let it dry prior to adding soil, plants, and decorations.
Watering and Care:
Water your display and sit it where it will receive the amount of sun or shade suitable for your plants. Check for watering needs just as you would any other plant and add water whenever necessary.
Miniature garden displays erected in cold winter climates might need to be taken indoors during cold winters. Likewise, displays set out in hot summer climates may need periodic relief for sweltering suns.
This beginner guide to making a miniature garden is only the beginning and growers should bear in mind that miniature gardens can grow directly from the earth as well as from containers. Simply setup miniature gardens in small yard spaces. Enjoy your mini garden!