This post is part of a series on Playspace Design.   Other posts in the series include:
Our Playroom

This is the second of four posts on our Backyard's Design.  One of the elements I wanted to have in our yard was a place for imaginary play.  When I was perusing Pinterest, I saw so many fabulous Fairy Gardens - but fairies are just not S's thing.  However, dinosaurs are.  So I settled on creating a Dinosaur Garden instead.   :)

First we needed to decide where in the yard to create this world/garden.  My mother was super instrumental in our entire backyard design.  She's got a background in landscape architecture, so she was full of helpful tips.  She suggested playing off a feature that was already present in our backyard.  We had these two huge tree stumps from trees that were damaged in an ice storm and had to be cut down - so we built from there.

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On either side of the tree trunks, we created large, wide mounds of dirt.  I really wanted a water feature for our Dinosaur Garden, but I didn't want to deal with standing water.  I'd seen aquarium rocks used to make trails in fairy gardens, so I settled on making a giant lake out of blue aquarium rocks (I bought them at a local pet store).  To make the lake I flattened one of the mounds and made sort of a crater that I filled in with the aquarium rocks.

Next we needed greenery.  I just love sedum in general, and it was the perfect addition here.  It looks so prehistoric, it has so many varied textures, and it's drought tolerant (who doesn't love a plant that rolls with you forgetting to water it, right?).  I bought three flats of sedum (at our local home improvement store they sell these large flats of sedum that look almost like a giant plant carpet) and we broke them up into several large clumps and laid them on top of our dirt.  We did all this a year ago - so by now the sedum has mostly filled in the gaps.  It is a type of groundcover, so if you aren't picky about some gaps the first year, you can save money by just planting spaced handfuls and they will fill in over time.

Finally, we needed some dinosaurs!  Safari Ltd makes some great dinosaur models, but we were a bit more frugal and I raided the local Goodwill.  I actually love the crazy faded plastic dinosaurs I found there!  They're pretty awesome.  S has decided that they are a family - there's the Dada in the background below, the Mama is the Triceratops in the foreground, and they have a baby (smaller) triceratops as well.  In addition to the large scale dinosaur family, I also bought a bag of tiny dinosaurs - half of which lived out here and the other half of which live inside our house and play in some of our small worlds.  I like the tiny guys because usually S sends her friends home with one or two (which is great - because you get so many in a set she's happy to share) and the tiny guys hide really well in the sedum.  :)

Here's another view of Dinosaur Lake.

There's S playing with a tiny dinosaur guy.

S LOVES her Dinosaur Garden.  She spends hours quietly chattering telling all sorts of stories, making them meals of grass and gravel, and generally having a great time.  It's such a fun addition to our backyard!  PS - Her cuteness in this picture melts my heart!!!!

Got a dinosaur lover?  For even more dinosaur fun, be sure to check out:
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.


  1. Love this the blue gravel is genius! We made a Dino world with rocks and mud but the plants and lake add a whole new play level might have to "borrow" this idea! My lil dude is into volcanos too and have seen a fish ornament which would look great in this set up. Looks like a trip to the pet store is in order :-)

    1. Hi Prehistoric Play! Thank you for the compliment and ooh I love your ideas!!! I think your little guy will love the Dinosaur Garden you're dreaming up!!!!!

  2. Love small world play in the backyard..Toys and nature - best play time for the kiddos. Wonderful dinosaur world..

    1. Totally fun to have a place for it outside! Thank you, Suja! :)

  3. That's adorable. I can imagine kids really having fun with the dinosaur figurines in tall grass. Very imaginative.

  4. CUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  5. Wow great ideas to incorporate into my or should i say kids dino park. I Just decided to make a dino garden this evening from a load of garden rocks i had laid years ago in a corner of the garden with several trees in it. I originally decided to put these rocks in there to create a wildlife garden.
    Now i have children i see how much they love playing in this corner so i decided to re configure these rocks and create the dino garden. They look great with the wild flowers growing around them which my boys use for feeding the dinasaurs. Lol.
    After we finished playing with the dinos i decided to look on hear to see if any1 Ellse has created one. These ideas are great to add to this amazing hidden dino garden.


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