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A Mini Dinosaur Garden Fit for a 3-Year-Old

Jun 11, 2017 By Jo-Ann
A Mini Dinosaur Garden Fit for a 3-Year-Old

By Victoria Harrison, Houzz

Garden designer Simon Orchard has worked on a wide range of gardens for clients all over London, but when he was asked to construct this patch, he had to face his most challenging client yet: his 3-year-old son, Finley.

“I think I can say this is the smallest garden I’ve designed,” Orchard says, “and for my most difficult client!”

Who lives here: A family of miniature dinosaurs
Location: London
Garden size: Small
Designer: Simon Orchard Garden Design

“My client for this project was quite demanding,” Orchard says. “He had a lot of things he wanted included in the design of this garden — shade, a water feature, greenery.”

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Together, Finley and his father built a garden that encompassed these elements, resulting in a Jurassic landscape for the boy’s collection of dinosaurs.

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

The starting point for the dino park was an old farmhouse sink that Orchard had lying around in the garden. “I was wondering what I could do with it, and at the same time, my son was just starting to get interested in dinosaurs, so I decided to turn it into a dino park for him.”

“I treated this like a proper design job,” Orchard says. “I sat down at my computer to design it!” First, he had to build a wooden stand to raise the garden to Finley’s height. “The base had to be very sturdy, as the sink is so heavy.”

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

Next, Orchard started to layer the garden. Drainage was important, so he began by placing a permeable weed barrier across the bottom of the sink, and then filled the sink two-thirds full with Leca, a lightweight aggregate, to allow water to drain. The weed barrier prevents the aggregate from falling out the drainage hole but allows water through.

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

A layer of landscape fabric went over the aggregate, and then Orchard added compost and another layer of landscape fabric before dressing the top with pea gravel. Holes were cut through the fabric for the plants.

A regular pond liner created a pond, and a partially submerged terra-cotta pot placed on its side made a hill.

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

On top of the hill, a hebe plant (Hebe sp.) forms a miniature tree, an essential food source for herbivore dinosaurs. Soleirolia soleirolii, commonly known as the mother of thousands, covers the hillside in foliage.

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

Orchard used pieces of slate to create a prehistoric landscape and to fashion a watery cave at the back of the pond. A soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum) adds to the Jurassic feel.

Dino Garden

Simon Orchard Garden Design, original photo on Houzz

The “grass” at the front, to the left, is Irish moss (Sagina subulata), and another hebe — H. ‘Emerald Gem’ — creates foliage on the right. Sedum hakonense ‘Chocolate Ball’ adds an extra layer of color at the back of the garden.

The occupants appear to be very happy with their new garden.

Related: In Love With Dinosaurs? Make This DIY Project With Your Little One

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