How to plant a mini garden or ‘fairy allotment’ in a wheelbarrow

If you haven’t got much space but want to create a summery display in your garden, why not plant up a wheelbarrow? Seasonal bedding plants can add a pop of colour to your front garden or courtyard patio. You could encourage children to get involved in planting up their own mini garden by including a cardboard shed and edible herbs. Here’s how…

If your garden is a concrete jungle or you’ve only got a small front yard in which to grow plants, a wheelbarrow garden could be just the thing to add a splash of colour to your space. It’ll boost your home’s kerb appeal if you ‘park’ the wheelbarrow out front (safely within your garden and not blocking any paths, of course!) or will brighten up your back garden patio.

You definitely don’t need a new wheelbarrow for this project – in fact, the older the better! If your ancient barrow already has holes in it (like the rusted-through patches in ours) that’ll provide the ideal drainage for planting up a garden.

Alternatively you could add old broken pots and tiles as crocks, and gravel to the base first, before adding compost. This will allow water to drain through the soil rather than swamp the plants. It still might become too wet if you have a downpour, so keep an eye on it and maybe wheel it into a sheltered spot if rain is forecast.

The thing about wheelbarrow gardens is that it doesn’t cost much to make a big impact in such a small space. You only need a couple of trays of summer bedding plants to fill it to the brim. I’ve seen trays of 6 plugs for £2 per tray, so it needn’t be a big investment. Or you could take cuttings from plants that you already have in the garden to make your mini version.

Of course, you can choose any plants you like and spend as much as you like – with small bushes at the back or tailing plants cascading over the front of the barrow. But you don’t need to completely fill up the whole wheelbarrow to start with, as the plants will soon grow to fill it.

Old, rusty and vintage style wheelbarrows work well as they look rather quaint when planted up with cottage-garden style plants. Or you can paint the outside of your wheelbarrow with a vibrant colour – just use the correct metal or plastic spray paint for the type of material it’s made from.

We made a tiny shed for our own mini wheelbarrow garden. This is a cute idea for kids as it turns the whole space into a ‘fairy allotment’! All you need to do is cut rectangle pieces of cardboard and use masking tape to hold it together.

Then kids can paint over the surface to make it look like a tiny shed with weathered wood. The door could have a little ‘fairy allotment’ sign hung on it and you can really go for it with making plenty of mini gardening accessories.

Of course, a tiny cardboard shed won’t stand up to the elements for long but, if you’re feeling practical, you could always make the shed from offcuts of wood instead and carefully nail the pieces together. A protective coat of garden paint will help to protect it further. Or you could simply use a shed-shaped bird box!

Add a gravel path through the veggie patch so that the fairies can easily attend to their allotment. If you plant it up with solely edible herbs like chives, parsley, basil and oregano, children can even enjoy picking and eating the ‘produce’ from their mini garden – under supervision, of course!

At the very least it’ll be exciting for children to watch the plants grow and flower over the coming month. They can be ‘in charge’ of watering the wheelbarrow garden and dead-heading the flowers.

What do you think of these wheel barrow gardens? Will you have a go at planting one up for yourself this summer? Let me know if you get the kids involved and I’d love to see your photos so please tag me @cassiefairy on Instagram 🙂

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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