Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to Make a Miniature Garden

So these are the mini gardens I finished up today for the kids to give to their teachers tomorrow....on the last day of school...FINALLY!!!
I can't wait for some extra time to do some painting and great tutorials for this blog.

I promised to show you how to make these gardens so here we go.......

Materials Required:
a I purchase houses at Christmas time specifically to make these gardens but you can find some at garage sales or make one out of a fence post like I described in this post. If you house has snow on it you can easily paint it to be moss.
sealer, I use Duraclear glossy
large pebbles
small decorative rock

Here are the houses I buy at Christmas. These are from Walmart and I think I paid $3.00 a piece.
There are some craft stores that sell these all year round so keep an eye out. Otherwise you can make a wood one or modify a secondhand house from a Christmas village.

If you are painting a plain one the first thing you want to do is brush it with an old paintbrush. This gets off the excess dust as well as some of the extra plaster bits that shouldn't be there.
Start painting...I use Folk Art acrylic paints. Now when you start to paint you want to work with the largest areas first and then work your way up to the trim. This saves in the touch ups.
Due to the white chalky nature of the plaster you will find your colors appear somewhat garish. If you try to keep to traditional house colors you will be OK once the final antiquing coat goes on at the end.

If you water your paints down a little you will get better coverage as the plaster soaks up the paint very fast.

When you reach the snow bits on the roof and the ground you want to paint these green like moss. I usually paint it a dark green first like "thicket" and then pounce on some light Hauser green and a little bit of yellow. This adds depth to your trees and moss.

Paint the inner sills of the windows black. This hides them a bit.

If you can't get all the little spaces don't worry the glaze will take care of it.
The glaze also hides any imperfections in your painting.

Now it's time for the antiquing glaze. You want a little bit of paint, I usually use Brunt Umber...add some float medium just to the side of your add a few drops of water....mix together in a small amount to make your glaze.

You then want to paint the entire house with this watery glaze. It will fill in all the little spaces and add depth to shingles, stone etc. It also covers all the little mistakes.

It tones down the colors to make them look more realistic.

Here is red roof getting the antiquing treatment.

For stone work you may want to use a bit of black paint for the glaze. It fills in all the grout lines and make it look like real stone or tile.

When finished let dry and cure. You are supposed to wait 24 hrs but sometimes I cheat if I am in a rush. I just have to be careful that the paint doesn't start to lift.

When dry cover in a coat of Duraclear glossy and set aside to dry.

While your house is drying find some nice flat pebbles. This will be your address marker.
Paint with a few coats of a light acrylic color.

Let dry.

Using a fine paintbrush make up an address for your house.....something like Lilliput Lane, Dragonfly Manor, Barnacle Bay.
The secret to using a fine liner paintbrush is to have very thin paint. Add water to black or brown to letter your sign. I then add some flowers or a vine.

Let dry and cover with a coat of Duraclear as well.

Now you need a nice planter for your garden....something with a low profile but large enough to plant a few flowers and have space for your house. I use these terracotta planters...they are 16.5" in diameter and are about 8 inches high.

Put some large pebbles in the bottom for drainage.

Plant some flowers and herbs in a semicircle around the back of your planter. You are leaving space for your house and pathway in the front.

Try to choose plants that will stay small...only about 12" high at the max. Look for ones with small leaves and flowers to fit with the theme.

I usually pick up some extra park benches at Christmas time to go with the houses but neglected to do so this time.
I decided to add a fence to the pathway. I found a bunch of sticks on the thinner side and cut them all to about 4 ".

I place decorative rock in the back of the planter where the house will sit and then add a pathway.
This time I added my twig fence as well.
Put your address marker near the front.

And that's it a cute little mini garden that makes a great gift. My kids like to set up little mini scenes in the regular flower bed as well. It's amazing what you can come up with!
Take care and I'll see you next time.


  1. these are too cute! and is JUST letting out?!?!

  2. Sweet artist lady
    Endless imagination
    Your blog completes me.

  3. Lovely!

    I was showuing my 8 years old son this mini garden and he said "let's make this righ away"!

    We certainly will!


  4. This is just too sweet, what a great gift :)

  5. Hi,

    These look quite interesting and creative.
    This kind of practice could be applied to other themes, one just needs to have some ideas.

    Best regards,


  6. I love, love, love this! I'll be linking.

  7. I can't wait to try this myself--they're beautiful. I love your blog!

  8. Great version ~ thank you! Get in touch if you'd like some real miniature plants...

    Your fellow MG,
    Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center

  9. Thanks everyone!!
    I absolutely love these gardens as well.

  10. Your children are truly Lucky to have you!
    Another amazing project...

  11. i was hoping you had a garden of a dinosaur theme...because it what i am doing as a project just looking at images for ideas..but they are lovely(the mini gardens).

    1. Why not a dinosaur theme? Do a similar project except put toy dinosaurs in there instead of a house. I live in the "DinosaurTriangle" of western Colorado and eastern utah so that theme is perfect. Great idea!

  12. Love your little gardens and your blog. I specialize in these in my shop and sell accessories for them on etsy.
    Thought you might be interested. Midwest Living magazine (Jan/Feb) recently featured one of my gardens.

  13. I finally made it with my boy; he wanted a present to give to his teacher, and yesterday the miniature garden was perfect to cebebrate the first spring day. We both enjoyed doing this so much!
    Thank you, Gail.
    I've posted about it and linked it here.
    Have a nice day!

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. You horrible person, this is a site for creative, intelligent people, clearly not for pathetic low lifes such as you.

  15. Absolutely love these -- my girls and I made our own version this week and they'll be up on my blog (with a link back to you) on June 6th. : )

    pink and green mama

  16. Maravilloso trabajo¡¡¡
    Celia desde Uruguay

  17. I totally need to do this! Thank you for the magnificent idea!!!

  18. Beautiful and simple. BTW, you can buy those houses in dollar stores (especially during xmas but even at other times!). I will try this one for sure, your blog is so full of brilliant/simple ideas. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your ideas!

  19. you could add figures like lego, my little pony and other tiny toys to brighten it up a little!

  20. I make something similar every year, only I use a gardeners seedling tray and have a little summer house in a tree and a small garden shed! Also lots of small flowers and cacti plants, a little pond, a washing line and the list goes on! This is a nice way to do it, but surely it must cost a fair bit? Don't waste it on teachers! (:

    1. I think Lottie's comment about Teachers was out of place (no I am not a Teacher, but my children had some fine teachers who were very deserving of the gifts and respect that the parents gave them.) This is a delightful project and Lottie should keep her ignorant comments to herself!!

  21. what a lovely tutorial. I plan to do this soon. Book marking it.