How to Make a Dinosaur Garden for Little Paleontologist Wannabees

What happens when you cross a fairy garden with a kid's outdoor play table? You get a really fun dinosaur sandbox.

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Get the kids outside and in the dirt with this whimsical DIY dinosaur garden. It's kind of like a fairy garden, but with sharp teeth and lava rocks. A trip to the hardware store and afternoon of work is all you need to make a backyard pre-historic playscape that the littles are sure to love.

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Tools and Materials:

  • large plastic planter or pond liner
  • cinderblocks
  • faux grass rug
  • exterior-grade plywood
  • staple gun and staples
  • scissors
  • jigsaw
  • drill
  • play sand
  • hardy plants
  • lava rocks
  • mulch

Step 1: Trace Pond Liner

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Place the pond liner on top of the plywood. Trace the bottom of the liner, not the top. You want the lip of the bowl to be larger than the hole so the planter will be recessed into the plywood table.

Step 2: Cut Hole for Liner

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Use a drill to make a starter hole for the jigsaw. Once you have a starting hole, use the jigsaw to cut out the circle for the pond liner. Light sanding and trimming may be required to make sure the fit is correct. Give a bit of allowance in the circumference for the faux grass.

Step 3: Cut Grass

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

When the hole is the correct size, spread out the Eco-Rug or faux grass. Cut it slightly larger than the size of the plywood so you can fold it and secure it from the underside.

Step 4: Attach Grass

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Wrap the sides of the wood with the grass and attach it with a staple gun. The grass will make the edges of the table softer for little knees that might bump into things as well as give the illusion of lush green grass for all herbivore dinosaurs.

Step 5: Cut Grass Around Liner

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

When the grass is snug and in place, flip the plywood over and cut an asterisk pattern into the grass in the middle of the liner hole. Fold the grass on the underside of the plywood and staple in place. Trim excess pieces of the grass so that the hole is now open and ready for the liner.

Step 6: Prop Table Up on Blocks

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Place the table on top of cinderblocks to raise it up off the ground and make it toddler height. Use heavy-duty adhesive to attach the plywood to the blocks. 

Step 7: Fill Pond Liner

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Browse the garden center for materials the kids can play with. Create a scene using various textures and different types of hardy plants like tall grasses and liriope. The dinosaur play table should be a sensory experience for children.

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Step 8: Add Sensory Objects

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Decorative stones like lava rocks are great for hauling in toy trucks. Kids can even paint their own rocks to add. The extra blank space in the prehistoric playland is intentionally left empty for kids to have an additional space for play. Leave shells, geodes, pinecones and more out as an invitation to play.

Photo by: Jennifer Perkins

Jennifer Perkins

Kid-safe mulch, dirt and play sand are also great additions. Don’t expect the dinosaur village to stay Pinterest perfect for long, this is after all for kids. Keep extra materials available to refill as needed.

The most important step is adding the dinosaurs! Toy dinosaurs that can withstand the weather are the perfect addition. Are your kids more into safaris or rainforests? Just sub out different animals that day.

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