Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}
Think you don’t have a green thumb? I don’t have one either, but that doesn’t stop me from getting my hands all dirty creating small gardens! I love it, even though I am forever killing plants and really have no idea what I’m doing. It is fun and therapeutic for me so I keep on trying!

Update, here are some of my own tiny gardens!

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

 Open Face Terrariums West Elm

My thought is that you just learn and experiment as you go. And if you work with small gardens, you don’t have quite as much to lose as if you were planting a big tree or hedge! Take it from me, small gardens and containers are MUCH easier to experiment with.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

About two weeks ago, I was invited to the new Seattle West Elm store for an urban gardening event. I was so excited to attend because like I said, I’m a wee bit obsessed with tiny gardens.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

West Elm Glass Jar Terrariums

I was especially excited about the West Elm event because they were doing a demonstration on how to create terrariums! I loved learning about how easy these little terrarium gardens are to put together. They have been on my must do list forever.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

How to make a tabletop terrarium

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

West Elm Glass Terrariums

West Elm even gave us a glass jar as a gift, so I’m for sure making one soon, I’ll show you when I do! Update: Here is my¬†terrarium!

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

I also thought these little hanging glass planters from West Elm were pretty sweet. Have you ever heard of air plants? They are awesome plants that grow without soil! YES! Loved them.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

You can hang little glass planters with air plants from your patio umbrella or porch, too, and they look fantastic! via West Elm

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

I just about bought that amazing bee hive shaped glass dome while I was at the West Elm event, I loved how it created a little terrarium on a cake plate. Perfect for a centerpiece! Just goes to show you can have a garden pretty much anywhere!

I love that these types of table top planters are the perfect little gardens for apartment dwellers, too! No deck or patio necessary! So many fun ideas for those of us who want to get into gardening on a smaller scale.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

For years I’ve been thinking of ways to enjoy gardening in small space. It all started two houses ago when we had a huge yard full of overgrown plants and lots of grass and hedges to trim … and we couldn’t keep up with it. It stressed me out. WAY TOO MUCH for us. I needed a gardener every month. THAT was crazy. I vowed after we sold that house that forever more I was going to be a small garden lover.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

I dreamed of a small yard I could putter around in and make lovely, but still manage to keep up with. Once we moved and had our beloved tiny house and tiny yard in the Eastmoreland neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, I designed a curvy paver-patio to use in place of grass, planted lots of creeping plants and created my own little garden oasis in our backyard (you can see it above).

We loved that yard, and even though it was super tiny (our entire lot was under 5,000 square feet (about the size of the next house we lived in! HA!), we packed a lot of plants into that small space. I loved puttering around in that yard because it was manageable and just the right size for our needs.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

Last year in our current backyard, I set up a small potting table and herb garden and it was one of my most favorite projects all summer! I didn’t worry too much about my lack of green thumb. If something died, I could just pull it out of its pot and put in something something new.

Surprisingly though, most of my plants survived. I got many of my plants last year at Lowe’s and they would exchange any plant I couldn’t keep alive. The only one I had to take back was a blueberry bush. The new blueberry bush I got is thriving on my back deck and is already producing lots of leaves!! I love being able to pick blueberries right on my deck, container gardening is much more fun to me than digging in the hard ground.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

I also created this sweet Fairy Garden last summer. I’m very much obsessed now with gardens in boxes and glass jars. My kids laughed at me when I texted them last year to let them know I was making a fairy garden, but I don’t care if I sounded like a funny old lady. That little Fairy Garden was featured in publications all over the world so maybe I’m not so crazy after all. My kids ended up being in love with it and I bet they are going to make their own too this year.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

And then of course, there was my pallet garden! Another perfect idea for gardening in a small space. It is still sitting on my back deck and I cannot wait to freshen it up with new plants in the next few weeks.

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

About two years ago while out and about I saw this delightful little stacked planter filled with flowers and a tree! Easy too, all you would need are two planters (one smaller than another) stacked on top of each other. I thought it was another great way to pack in some gardening to a small space. I love container gardening too!

So many fun ways to garden, even in a small space!

Do you enjoy small space gardening? Have you ever made a terrarium garden?

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}

Come see my Five 5 Minute Miniature Gardens!

Terrariums {and other Small Space and Urban Gardening Ideas}


  1. Hi Melissa,
    Perfect timing on this post. I just posted a how to on making a terrarium grouping yesterday…


    I love the look of the small plants in the glass vases…and also that they are so easy to take care of.

  2. Charissa says:

    I like the idea of planting inside the jar. Very creative and unique. Perfect for our balcony.

  3. Used to make terrariums all the time as a teen in the 70’s. Remember one time grabbing a teeny tiny mushroom from the woods and the next day it was coming out of the top of the pickle jar!
    Love the apothecary jar terrariums…..need to make one for my den.

  4. Morning Melissa! I had to chuckle when I read your post this morning, because I posted THIS today: http://sally-drinkingfrommysaucer.blogspot.com/2012/04/garden-fairies.html I’ve never made a fairy garden, but admired the large one set up at our local garden center. They had figurines, houses, garden walls, etc. So cute. Another example of something you could do SIMPLY, or GO CRAZY with! I had forgotten yours from last year, but checked out your photo, and LOVE it in the little table. That’s a perfect set-up!

    Have a beautiful day! ~Sally

  5. The perfect container for a terrarium/fairy garden is living in my dining room right now. Just as soon as I round up my directions for making one…I vaguely remember that there has to be the right amount of pebbles, gravel, soil, and water…I’ll be making one myself. And if I listened to what my children declare is “normal” or “lovely,” I’d never accomplish a thing. We do not share the same aesthetic.

  6. I’ve been playing with plants lately – with a 2 year old it can get fun! I have been playing with the idea of making a fairy garden. My neighbor made one last year and my zentangle teacher makes them and blogs about them. I’m now more and more inspired as I see more possibilities for them around the web. Thanks!

  7. Loving these!! That beehive dome needs to be in my house…immediately! So inspiring and perfect for spring. Time to get planting!! Thank you for sharing!

    ~ Jillian

  8. Oooooo this post is filled with lots of lovely eye candy!
    YES!!! I too love container gardening. It all started many years ago when we were very young and had our first house built. The slate was clean, the shrubs were small and the gardens were just beginning. Thinking back it was sooo much work and I can’t believe how much energy I had to do it all. Our house was a 1640’s New England style Saltbox. It was before my introduction to Longaberger and I purchased willow baskets and hung them under the front lights and under the garage lights filled with gorgeous flowers that first year. The Victory Garden on PBS had a container gardening contest and so I sent in a photo of one of my containers hanging on the front of the house. And surprise of surprises, they sent out their horticulturist for a visit. Wow, it was fun. No I didn’t win, but I did receive a lovely letter, which I still have, stating that my container was one of the nicest, but that I didn’t have enough of anything else to make it worth sending out a film crew. True…my first year gardens and landscaping were pretty slim. Though that changed over the years. But…that inspired me to continue my love of containers and even to take a Master Gardening course and then give classes and seminars for community ed, the art museum, and the farmers market, as well as local garden clubs on container gardening. Gosh that was fun. Thanks for the nudge down memory lane.
    P.S. Your fairy garden is the berries! Love it. Looking forward to seeing what else you create, gardenwise, this year.

  9. Vicki Bucy says:

    Hi there Melissa,
    thank you so much for this wonderful series on terrariums. I have always wanted to make one (never have). I recently found a large glass beverage dispenser without a top at a thrift store for $3. I immediately snapped it up cause I thought it would make a wonderful terrarium.

    I love what you have shown us and can’t wait to get started. Keep up the good work.

    BYW, I appreciate your thoughts on plants dying. I have a green thumb, but if I loose a plant it really upsets me. I think I have a better hold on it now, thanks to you.

  10. Isn’t West Elm something?!? I’ve tried to do a number of things from their inspirations. The planters are wonderful! franki

  11. I love your backyard at Eastmoreland! Don’t suppose you’ve posted more pictures of that somewhere? Our front yard has a very similar curve and I’d love to know what some of the plants you used were.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Thanks! I’m not sure that I ever posted other pictures, this was a project and house that was before blogging! But I’ll look around and see if I have more I could post!

  12. Love your post. I agree with your yard looking amazing. Terrariums are so fun I’ve done a couple. Once they get going (I had to do one fix with a bad plant) they couldn’t be easier than a little dusting :)

  13. Love this post…..thinking I need to make a “stacked” planter for my garden.
    Happy Day

  14. Great idea! I’ve never tried container gardening, but that looks like the perfect garden for me. I live in manhattan, so i don’t have a whole lot of room to play with plants :(

  15. This is a great post and I’m so glad these gardens have resurfaced as stylish!! Great for any home. I have yet to try this myself but am inspired by my sister-in-law and her talents and business (which donates these gardens to cancer patients too!)http://terralove.org/

    As always, great ideas and inspiration.

  16. I don’t do well with indoor plants. I kill them. Dead. Outdoors, the survival rate is much better. We have such a small backyard. And it’s shaded. Almost every single inch. I think I will try container gardening on the front deck. Herbs and tomatoes mainly. Here’s hoping!

  17. Hi Melissa, I think it was your fairy garden that got me thinking about small scale gardening. Since moving into the apartment last year, I feel that I’ve craved indoor greenery. I know have an ivy, a curly fern and a ficus tree and they’re all doing pretty well! I’m surprising myself. Next- a terrarium. Have you ever visited Twig terrariums online? I saved a lot of their images in my pinterest board. You’ll love them!

  18. Ooooh, thanks for the inspiration. I’ve been obsessively flipping through west elm catelogs and any others I can get my hands on, getting ideas for small yard gardening. Ours is fairly small. My mind is just chaotic with outdoor projects I want to tackle. So much so that I don’t even know where to start. I stare blankly when I go to lowes because it becomes a little overwhelming. Please keep the gardening inspiration coming.

  19. I’m with you on loving small gardens. One of my favourite gardens we have had was the first one at our town house. It was only a patio and a small rectangular bed under the window, but we packed the flower bed full of annuals and had tons of pots and it looked fantastic – and we could keep up with it. Since then we have had two bigger yards which have ranged from looking great to looking unkempt depending on the year and how much energy we have had. Last summer was an unkempt year as it was really hot here and I was away most of the summer so this year we will be rejuvenating the garden.

  20. What a fun post! I always try to have a terrarium in my classroom at school. I had the same one for 12 years (!!!) until the janitor hit it with his elbow and knocked it off the windowsill and broke it. I usually use a gallon jar with a screw lid. If you get the moisture right, you never have to water it again. It is good to put a layer of charcoal under the soil as a filter. One year we used plastic containers (like spinach comes in), and each student made their own little one. My main problem is finding the right-sized plants since we live in a rural area with no year-round greenhouse nearby. My mom used to have one of those “air” plants, but I hadn’t thought of them in years. Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. Melissa,
    Your West Elm tour is so inspiring. I love having a little greenery around. And, yes, air plants can be the perfect thing.

    For air plants – You mist them to keep them fresh (and alive!) and in the winter I went away on vacation and came home to a shriveled up dead little plant. For folks who live in the South, or where it’s humid, I bet they rock. Here in Chicagoland, I have treat them more like a pet and bet sure to water them – LOL!

  22. I remember these great gardening posts from last Summer, Melissa! What fun! :-) I am trying my hand at some easy gardening on our patio this Spring — we’ll see how I do! Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. I think I need a fairy garden! I’m not sure if I like gardening yet, but once we finally find a place I am going to give it a try. I want to do some herbs in the kitchen and hopefully some vegetables outside. Will have to wait and see (and probably go back through your blog to see if there’s any helpful hints and inspirations).

Join the Conversation