Garden Container Makeover: A Fairy Wonderland

Garden container makeover: A fairy wonderland

It’s not unusual to happen upon a forgotten garden pot gathering moss in some remote corner of the garden, begging for a makeover. You could choose a traditional route by filling the container with some nice seasonal blooms, but that would be just another day in the garden, wouldn't it? Why not consider a more fun and exciting alternative, like a fairy garden - very on trend and a garden makeover project you soon won’t forget. 

In this blog edition, we will be looking at how to create a whimsical fairy landscape that can be enjoyed by everyone, especially the kids. A fairy green space creates a happy energy spot in the garden and can keep the children, and some imaginative adults, busy and engaged. Creating a fairy garden is one of those perfect projects to get children involved in gardening, develop their love and appreciation for nature and give them an outlet to be creative.

Let’s have a look at how to prepare, plan and perfect a fairy garden to bring back some life into a neglected garden container.

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* After:


Apart from some little helpers (or willing adults), you will need the following for this project:


  • A container of sorts. Scour Pinterest for ideas like wheelbarrows, old basins, used tyres or deconstructed setups like various boots or shoes hanging from a rack. You can also create your fairy garden directly in the ground, but what makes the container option so great is that you can move it whenever there is the need to.
  • Potting soil. Choose the right type of soil for the plants you will be adding.
  • Decor. Create your own fairy decor like little houses or swings made from twigs. Or buy some moulded items from online stores. To give your project wings, you might want to include actual figurines of fairies (or gnomes!) This is optional, however.
  • Fillers, like dried moss, stones, pebbles, etc.
  • Plants of your choice. Because you want the fairy garden to look rather settled as soon as you are done, opt for plants that can grow quite closely together and do not grow or spread very fast. If you do decide to plant something that can spread a bit, like alyssum, fairy primrose, linaria fairy bouquet or violas, you can plant something next to it that is easy to remove, such as succulents, and then remove and replant those as soon as your spreading plant does its thing.



Research internet ideas on the layout of fairy gardens. What you will notice is that most of them have one strong vocal point, which is often the case with other creative projects like photography or art in general too. This vocal point is usually a fairy dwelling of some sort, but it does not have to be. It could be a splash pool or a braai area. Your fairy garden, your choice.

If you do decide to place a little house on the scene, it works well to create a background against which the house can stand out, such as a rock, or some towering plants to frame the house. 

Consider creating landscapes with hills and/or valleys, water elements, lawn areas and garden paths to lead the eye through your miniature garden. Using fences (which again could be self-made from twigs) helps create focused spaces or “rooms” in which you can do something interesting.


Get everything you need for your fairy garden in advance and display the items next to your container on the day so that you don’t have to run around looking for things. This includes removing plants from your garden that you want to include.

Also prep your container. Remove and replant any plants from the container if necessary and fill the container up with your potting soil. Set out at least a few hours for the project at a suitable time of day so you have uninterrupted time to get magical.


Location, location, location! During your planning, consider the placement of the fairy garden. Containers can be moved, yes, but this becomes more challenging the heavier the container gets.

Consider the type of plants that you will add to the garden and how much sun they need. The container itself may also play a role in this decision. Soil in a terracotta pot tends to dry out quicker than soil in a plastic container, while old tyres tend to keep heat locked in and should probably best be placed in semi-shade.

Also, consider security when deciding on the placement of your mini wonderland. Will you have to protect the fairy garden against wind and rain? Will there be very small children or animals in the vicinity? Small decor items will have to be kept beyond their reach.

While considering the location of your fairy garden, be sure to keep in mind that it will also have to be maintained. Try avoiding high maintenance setups like under a camel thorn tree, where you will have to pick out small leaves or other debris from gravel or sand.



Fairy gardening can give you the opportunity to repurpose some second hand items in and around the house and garden. Instead of buying everything you need for the project, consider what you already have and can reuse. This can lead to a very creative, eclectic look and feel to your garden.

In this project, the gravel used for the pathway is from an old aquarium:



Whether your creative process is impromptu or mapped out, or somewhere in between, is not an issue for this type of project. If you go with the flow, you can put in and take out plants easily and move them around as you work out what you want. For the more structured gardeners, you may want to draw out your plan on a piece of paper beforehand, taking into account the scale, the type of plants and decor you want to include. The planning points can then be marked out onto the surface of the prepared soil before starting to fill in your elements.


You may also decide to have the kids take the lead on how to approach the project and have them figure out a way while you are on standby. Either way, don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s easy to remove items or plants and locomote them around the container. One exception to this is when you use sand or gravel, which is quite tricky to move once it’s been put down.

After everything has been placed, water the garden. This washes away any unwanted soil particles and helps the plants to settle. It also gives the mini garden a fresh look to make it photo-ready so you can share your final product with friends and family.


There are many things that make fairy gardens such a fun and fabulous project:

  • These quaint gardens can be custom-made to fit into whatever container or garden space you have available.
  • They are ridiculously easy to disassemble for either reassembly somewhere else or for changing the layout or the look and feel.
  • Fairy gardens can be themed. Think special days like Christmas or Valentine’s day, nature themes like flower fields or forest scenes, colour themes, emotive themes such as love or happiness, or even more abstract themes like dreams or adventure.
  • You may also decide to use a particular design trend, like minimalism (think lonesome fairy under a bonsai tree with some sand, pebbles and a rake) or steampunk.
  • Fairy gardens can be made functional. See what kinds of relatively small, edible plants you can incorporate, for instance. One example is radishes, which can be sown and harvested within about a month. Another example is microgreens which may, with some imagination, double as a fairy lawn until harvest.
  • Check out the Seeds for Africa patio range if you have room in your container for something slightly larger, like the Tumbling Tom tomato which would look striking spilling over the side of a suspended fairy garden.
  • You can have your fairy garden tell stories by making it interactive. Open the garden to imaginative scenarios by adding miniature wells, washing lines or wind chimes that the kids can play with when they are sitting by the fairy garden. Consider adding some items that can easily be moved around.



Share your “before” and “after” fairy garden photos with Seeds for Africa on our social media pages. We look forward to seeing what you came up with!

About the author

Chanél Boshoff has a master's degree in journalism and is an avid amateur gardener with a passion for the environment. She writes about sustainable and creative living.