For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to turn an old, rickety chair into a fairy garden. But not just any fairy garden. No siree, this one would be a fairy playground, complete with swings, seesaws, and a slide.
Everything the wee fae folk would expect from a play area, including a picnic table for weary fairy parents 😉
And a fae fort way up in a tree.
While making the playground, I challenged myself not to buy anything and use only things I could find in the garden or in my craft cupboard.
So, if you love fairy gardens as much as I do, I wanted to share a long and photo-rich tutorial to show you how you can create something similar in a morning using what you have. No fancy tools or crazy stuff 😉
What you need
For the fairy playground
- Scrap metal
- An assortment of dried twigs or branches
- Wooden craft sticks
- Popsicle sticks
- Tongue depressors
- Plastic lid
- Toy car wheel
- Fairy creeping vine
For the chair planter
- Old chair
- Suitable container/planter
- Potting soil
- Drill to make drainage holes
Plants and landscaping
- Potting soil
- Miniature mushrooms
- Suitable plants
What plants can I use in my fairy garden
When it comes to fairy gardens the type of plant you use is really important. Low growing or creeping perennial herbs, like thyme (Thymus praecox arcticus), Corsican mint (Mentha requienii), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), or Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) are all easy to find and stay small and compact. Rock garden plants work well too. Look for Carpet sedum (Sedeum lineare), Carpathian bellflowers (Campanula carpatica), creeping baby’s breath (Gypsophila repens), Corsican speedwell (Veronica repens), and the dainty Blue Star Creeper (Pratia Pedunculata) shown below.
For height add small shrub-like plants and dwarf trees. My favorites are the Bonsai Ficus (Ficus retusa), Dwarf Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Kotobuki’), Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca albertiana ‘Conica’), and the Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies ‘Pumila’).
And finally, nothing beats low-maintenance miniature succulents like Blossfeldia liliputana (the smallest succulent in the world), Dancing Bones Cactus (Rhipsalis salicornioides), ‘Little Bobo’ Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum), Zebra Plant (Haworthia), Jade plant (Crassula ovata), Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra), and the tiny Princess Pine (Crassula lycopodioides).
Whichever fairy plants you choose make sure they’ll cope with your climate. A good rule of thumb is if a nursery in your area sells them, they should do well. For this fairy playground, I chose a bonsai ficus for height and interest and added pennyroyal and a blue star creeper as ground covers. The entire playground was created using a repurposed wonky chair as a planter. It’s not the first time we’ve repurposed a chair into something else. They can be used to make a small wall shelf or transformed completely into a throne fit for a mermaid. You can use whatever you have on hand, as long as the planter has adequate drainage and is big enough to allow these little babies to grow and thrive.
Turning a chair into a planter
Before I get to the actual fairy playground stuff, I quickly want to show you how we repurposed that rickety chair into a planter for our fairy playground.
The chair we used to showcase our fairy playground had a few serious flaws. Her legs were wobbly and we discovered that her rough seat was only attached with two nails. She must have been a rawhide chair back in her heyday so we had a few holes around the seat edge to contend with too 😉
No worries though. We weren’t going to use this baby for sitting 😀 But the legs did need fixing and those holes, where the rawhide used to be, needed filling. For something like this we always use skewers to plug the holes first, before adding wood filler on top.
It makes life so much easier and you use less wood filler.
We removed as much of the old varnish and gunk with sandpaper and then sealed the chair frame with an outdoor wax polish.
If your bowl is aluminum like ours, sand it with 80-grit sandpaper before painting it. Use a drill to make a few drainage holes in the bottom.
Wait for the paint to dry before filling with potting soil and adding your plants.
Planning the fairy playground
When planning a miniature fairy garden, it’s always a good idea to place the hard landscaping bits first, before adding the fairy accessories. For this fairy playground, I planted a bonsai ficus towards the back and added pennyroyal and a blue star creeper on the sides. Just a word of warning the star creeper can take over so she’ll probably need a trim every few months to keep her in check.
The bonsai ficus is such an extraordinary plant, and each one is unique. I picked this one up for a bargain. Somebody had hurt her and one of her limbs had broken off, which totally worked in my favor.
Add rocks, twigs, and any other interesting bits to create the playground area.
How to Make a Fairy Playground
Once the hard landscaping has been done, I could start creating little fairy stuff for the wee fae folk 😀
Fairy log picnic table and chairs
To make the log picnic table and chairs, I used small branch slices and some twigs. You can also use ice cream sticks to make a more traditional fairy picnic table.
Cut the twig down to size and glue it onto the bottom of the branch slice.
The log chairs were made in the same way, using smaller slices of wood.
Pro tip: If your twig isn’t long enough to push firmly into the ground, drill a hole in the bottom and insert a toothpick or skewer.
Find a spot in the playground garden and push the log picnic table and chairs into the ground. The nice thing about this little picnic set is how easy it is to scale up or down depending on the size of your garden. We made a really small version for our seashell miniature garden.
There are two swings in this playground; a tire swing and a small wooden one.
We’ve already shared a tutorial on how to make the wooden one from popsicle sticks.
So I’ll just show you how to make a fairy tire swing, using a toy car’s tire 😀 Use a sharp craft knife or pair of scissors to cut the tire as shown below.
Cut two pieces of twine and tie them onto the cut tire.
Tie the tire swing to a branch ……
or in my case, that broken tree limb 😉
To make the fairy seesaw, I used a small twig and leftover ceiling tile scraps.
My twig had a flat top, which meant that the seesaw wouldn’t “seesaw” properly 😀 Easy enough to solve with a little sandpaper and
elbow grease fairy dust.
Once the see-saw support has a nice pointy tip, cut a strip from the rusty ceiling tile that measures 2 cm x 12 cm and mark the middle point.
To reinforce the badly rusted metal strip, I glued a tongue depressor onto the bottom and used a nail to attach it to the twig. Two fence post staples were added to the ends, so the little fairies have something to hold onto when they seesaw 😀
Test the seesaw out ………………
….. and add to the fairy playground.
Another piece of scrap metal worked perfectly to make the fairy slide.
To bend the slide a PVC pipe came in very handy.
Glue the slide onto a twig and add a small ladder.
To make the ladder, trim two garden twigs to the right height and then cut and glue on smaller pieces for the crossbars.
Position the ladder up against the slide to finish off.
Fairy tree fort
The shape of this unusual bonsai ficus called for a tree fort that the little ones could play in.
To make the fort I used twigs, a plastic lid, scrap bits of metal, popsicle sticks, and a plastic lid we had leftover from making our fairy bridge.
Use a pair of scissors to cut the lid to the middle point. Cut a rough circle shape out.
The circle should be big enough to go around the trunk of the tree.
Roughen up the plastic lid with sandpaper before painting it.
Cut popsicle sticks to fit around the hole and glue them down with E6000. E6000 is waterproof so if your fairy playground gets wet, the fae fort will still look good. While the glue is still wet, slip the plastic lid around the tree trunk and leave it to set.
I found this gorgeously branched twig that was the perfect shape to use as a gateway to the fort.
Cut a long strip of scrap metal and glue it inside the lip of the plastic lid, leaving a space open for a door or an interesting twig 😉 Glue a swing ladder in the door space and fix any gaps with a little moss.
Pro Tip: Use a toothpick to apply glue in difficult-to-reach spots
Add a small string ladder so it’s easy for the little ones to get up there.
In my humble opinion, all playgrounds need a birdhouse 😉
For the fairy birdhouse, I used a small cork, a rusty piece of scrap metal, and a toothpick.
Cut the top of the cork off at an angle as shown below.
Insert a metal skewer to make a small hole in the cork.
Insert the toothpick underneath the hole and trim to size. Cut a piece of scrap metal for the roof and glue it on.
Insert a wooden skewer into the bottom of the fairy birdhouse and glue on some fairy vines.
Plant the teeny birdhouse in the fairy playground.
Add a few miniature mushrooms and …..
………. you’re all done.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.
And to think everything in the fairy playground was made from throwaway stuff 😀 That makes my heart happy, and the fairies love it too.
What do you think? Is it something you would create for your garden fairies?
If you like the idea of making a fairy playground using what you have, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring 😉
And if you’re looking for a few more fairy crafts to make, you’ll find a whole bunch on our blog, including:
- A fairy world in a book nook;
- Working grandfather clock;
- Tiny fairy beach in a cloche;
- Fairy door with a stained glass window;
- Our super popular fairy bridge;
- A whole kokedama fairy village;
- Potting bench and the smallest planters ever;
We’ve also included some affiliate links below, so you don’t have to worry about finding some of the stuff we used to make this fairy playground. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a very small commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and fairy craft ideas for you 😉
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Don’t forget to leave room in your garden for the fairies to play 😉 Thank you for popping in for a visit.