Here's an easy way to create a miniature dinosaur garden, ideal for little explorers!
What you need:
An old Belfast sink
'Leca' lightweight drainage aggregate
Plants (ideally evergreen)
... and dinosaurs
Grab yourself and old Belfast sink - you can find them at architectural reclamation places or you may find a neighbour has one lying around in the garden and glad for you to take if off their hands (Mind out, these things are VERY heavy).
Place the sink in the final position as it's about to get heavier. You might want to make a low timber frame for it to sit on to make it a better height for small people.
Fill the bottom 5cm with Lightweight aggregate (the little brown/orange balls that look like and feel like lava). You can buy it in bags from DIY shops and plant nurseries. This will help with drainage. Or you could use bits of polystyrene from plant trays or rubble.
Cover this layer with landscape (weed) fabric - also available at nurseries and DIY shops. This will stop the compost from falling down and blocking the plughole. Then fill the sink with compost to about 5cm from the top.
Next is to create the terrain; half sink the plant pot into the compost to create a cave and mound up the compost on the top and sides. For the lake, scoop out compost and line with pond liner. (If you can't get any from your DIY shop you could use a small plastic basin). Fill with water to hold it down in place and fold the liner over the top of the lake, securing the overlapping liner in place with slate chippings so you don't see the plastic.
Next plant all the plants - placing the taller things at the back. In this Dino-Park large pieces of slate were also half sunk into the compost to create a rocky outcrop with a fern planted behind.
To create the grassy hill over the top of the plant pot cave, a mat of 'Mind your own business' (Soleirolia soleirolii) was used.
Cover the rest of the bare compost with landscape fabric then spread a generous layer of pea shingle/gravel over the top to hide the fabric.
All that's left to do is to introduce the dinosaurs into their new home and let the small people take over!
Polystichum tsussimense (evergreen fern)
Soleirolia soleirolii ('Mind-your-own-business')
Hebe 'Green globe'
Sedum hakonense 'Chocolate Ball'
Sagina subulata (Irish moss)
Houzz.co.uk liked this project so much that they wrote an article on it entitled 'Garden Tour: A Mini Dino Park Designed for a 3-year-old Client'. You can read the full article here
Happy building! Simon