I love having the kids in the garden with me whether they are helping me plant or playing nearby so I make it a point to create play spaces throughout the yard and garden. About a month ago when I made THIS (Insert fairy garden link) for my little girl I had a pouting little boy on my hands who also thought a fairy garden was a great idea. Wanting to give him something a little more boyish I had to start brainstorming ideas immediately. It took me a couple weeks but I finally came up with an idea that he loves. My son loves anything pirate, and is at the stage where action figures are his favorite toy so any place they can be used is an instant hit.
How to Create a Pirate Grotto Garden for Kids
Start by finding something to create your garden in, I used this old wagon that is no longer played with, a few holes drilled in the bottom for drainage and it was ready to go. Find a spot for it, like under a tree, this area has plenty of filtered sunlight making it more cool and inviting. The other benefit of using the wagon is that it can be moved easily for weed eating or to change up the play space.
The next step is to fill your container with sand, I filled mine about 2″ from the top. Then select some plants to go in your garden. Since its a pirate island I wanted to use tropical looking plants-succulents are a good fit as well as these little Coleas that give some color to the little space. Since not much grows well in straight sand other than sea oats I either left the plants in their pots as long as they had room for some growth, or I planed them with a mound of good garden soil and topped it with sand. As they grow too large for the space I will replant them somewhere else and put in new plants. The wonderful thing about these little areas is that they can grow and evolve into bigger, better, or even completely different things. While I wanted to keep it mostly natural items so that it is functional and beautiful, I couldn't find any mini palm trees so I made my own with a stick from the yard, green craft foam, and my handy dandy glue gun.
To create a water feature as if our pirates had just landed on the beach I cut down the side of my play sand bag, and duct taped one side to the inside of the wagon. You could also use a piece of visqueen plastic, duct taped carefully on ends. A handful of blue glass pebbles from the Dollar Tree give it a blue ocean look. Just scoop out and shape the sand to create your water area. To disguise some of the edge I used rocks to create a rocky shoreline-similar to the way you use large rocks to disguise a pond liner. Fill with water and make sure its water tight, its now ready for a sea loving scallywag.
Pirates need a cave to hideout in and do pirate things so we I made one by spray painting a pot black, as well as lightly spraying some rocks as well. These were hot glued on 3 sides of the top half of the pot- the bottom half was buried under some sand.
Add in seashells, toys, and other little miniature pieces to set the scene, I found this barrel in the fairy garden section of Hobby Lobby ” Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of fun!” as my son says. The red X was easily made from a piece of craft foam, and we used our Playmobile and Imaginext figures and accessories for play time. Throw in some mini sea creatures and all that is left is to add in a child with some imagination and you have a play space that will keep them busy for hours.