This is a continuation of my Beginner Miniature Garden Series. Here are the previous lessons, just in case you missed them:
And for Today’s Lesson…
~ It happened again the other day. As soon as I held it up for all to see, the crowd murmured, “Awwww!” Every time I demonstrate how to install a patio in a miniature garden, I get the same response.
This is simply because a miniature garden, without a proper patio or pathway, is just small plants in a pot. But when you start to add the patio and accessories, that’s where the enchantment comes in and the smiles happen.
This is because we, as humans, can quickly relate to what size the garden is ‘supposed’ to be – full-sized – but the miniature patio instantly translates to our brains that the garden is it truly miniature. Add just one bench or one birdbath and you’ve cinched the scale. No tricks, no gimmicks, no special set of skills needed, because it really is a garden in miniature!
Let me back up for a moment.
When I started selling miniature gardens years ago I was placing marble and tile pieces right in the garden soil for the miniature patio. But when I watered the pot, the stream of water would always upset the wee tile pieces and I had to wait for them to dry out before I could fix the patio.
It was more than a bit frustrating because it happened every single time I watered. More often than not, the mini garden sat there with upset stones because I got tired of fixing them all the time.
So I started playing around with different materials to find a solution.
If at First You Don’t Succeed
First, I tried concrete but it had to be mixed before laying it in the miniature garden but I could not for the life of me keep the stones straight and level while it set. The “large” gravel in the cement messed up the finished patio as well, but it couldn’t be fixed. Not only could a fairy break an ankle, (think of the lawsuit! ;o) the end result looked was too chunky and the patio very uneven – and thus the realism was gone. No realism = no enchantment.
Exterior grout worked the same way. I didn’t want to lay it in wet and I wanted to be able to mix and match the stone and tile before it began to set up and harden. And I had the same problem keeping the stones level in the wet grout. When it was all said and done, it look uneven and the grout between the stones looked way too slick – and again, not realistic.
I tried casting the patios separately and upside-down, mimicking the process of making mosaic stepping-stones. But all I got was a small stepping-stone that didn’t look at all like a miniature patio.
I felt like Goldilocks. ;o)
So, I went back to the drawing board and hunted until I stumbled across superfine sand at one of my local suppliers here in Seattle. The teeny, tiny sand looked the right scale for the miniature patios – it was the perfect ingredient I needed to fix my problem! After several combinations the recipe worked and NOW I could install my own realistic miniature patio. But the best part is that I could put it together dry, so I would have time to get it right before locking in the pieces. Eureka!
I was finally a true recipe for miniature patios that:
- – went together dry, so I could take my time mixing and matching the stone and tile.
- – stayed level quite easily during the process and it was completely level when it dried.
- – I could use with brick, marble, tile, stone, pebbles, glass, marbles and even coins.
- – held up to the freezing and snow.
- – could not be washed away with overhead watering or pounding rainfall.
- – won’t harm your glazed pots and containers, it can be removed easily.
- – it can be used for in-ground miniature gardens as well as any sized container
- – best of all, it LOOKED like a real patio in miniature!
And the Mini Patio Mix Kit was born! Yay!
Now after years of installing patios and playing with the Mini Patio Mix Kit, since 2001, the patios have held up to freezing, snow, over-head watering, moss, cats, possums and kids! Not to mention a great spot for a cup of coffee or wineglass.
Note the Mini Patio Mix Kit is the “grout” part of the patio (but it’s much easier to use than grout!) and you add the brick, tile or stone. The end result is a sturdy miniature patio that is about ¾” to 1” deep. After a few weeks of curing, you can take the mini patio out and use it for another miniature garden if you like. The big difference between regular grout and our kit, is that it goes together dry so you have plenty of time to get the stones perfectly aligned, before you “lock them in.” The other huge difference, is that it really looks miniaturized!
So if you would like a no-muss-no-fuss custom miniature patio for your mini, fairy or check out our Mini Patio Mix Kit today. It is complete, full color, step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and include some design tips for containers and in-ground gardens, plus miniature plant recommendations and information on the different miniature scales that we use too.
This original Mini Patio Mix Kit is exclusive to Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, all others are copy-cats, some come as incomplete kits with weird instructions won’t work half as easily, nor are they to scale. While you are there, checkout our stone sheets, pebbles and bulk kits for more ideas and solutions.
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