A family of scrub jays moved in during the shutdown. What a treat to have them visit our miniature garden pond! See our Mini Lake Kit here. AND we also have a Fairy Garden Pond Kit here, like the one shown above. Both are exclusive kits only available at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center!
Blue & White Miniature Garden
An in-ground miniature garden scene from around 2011. Take your accessories in before Old Man Winter comes a’ knockin’ ! They will last longer and won’t get damaged by the extreme weather.

Growing an in-ground miniature gardening is a delight. Note that it has taken me several years to crack the code to a successful in-ground miniature garden that is easy to maintain and now I can actually call it ‘a delight.’ It took me years to figure out the way to do it so the up-keep is easy – but that’s a different blog. We’re winterizing here!

Before we get into it, shown below are a few renditions of the in-ground miniature gardens I’ve built over the years. The photos towards the bottom show my latest garden – and my best one yet.

Jack Frost & Old Man Winter

Why are Jack Frost and Old Man Winter both male? :o)

Preparing for the winter months now, will take some stress off you later, especially if you have to prepare for a storm. Your miniature garden may be low-priority but with a little foresight you can ensure that your miniature garden will be fine when the temperatures dip. So, here are some fall winterizing tips for your miniature in-ground garden, in no particular order.

Are your gardens in a container? Here’s a blog post on winterizing your containers.

Our old Miniature Garden
2009-ish – This is one of our first in-ground miniature gardens we built at in an old, cracked pond at our rental in West Seattle. We dug it up and replanted everything at our the new house we bought in 2010. See the next picture of it in 2012.

Preparing your Miniature In-ground Garden for Winter

–       Remove your accessories before it snows because chances are you’ll forget about them – it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” thing. They won’t stay in place, even if they are staked. They might get moved under a bush or buried in the soil. You might scoop them up next spring and put them in the compost by accident. Yes, I’m speaking from experience…

–       Store your miniature or fairy garden accessories safely inside over the winter, they will last longer. Most accessories these days are resin which are, of course, freeze proof, but the wear and tear from the elements does take its toll on the them. and any colors will fade faster if left outside all the time, (Note that any color/paint fades if left out year ’round.) Metal will rust and wood will decay naturally if it’s in contact with the moist soil. Keep them safe inside where you can clean them over the winter. Spray them with UV protectant to keep the colors at their best and you’ll be ready for next spring. Find the UV spray at your local hardware store.

–       No to leaf mulching, it’s better for your full-sized garden, or for anywhere there is bare soil. Don’t put it on your ground covers, (a.k.a. “miniature garden bedding plants,”) and keep it away from the base of your trees. The mulch/leaves will smother the low-growing foliage, not allow air and light through, and the tiny plants will probably not make it through the winter months.

–       Remove any fallen leaves. The leaves will sit on your “mini garden bedding plants” (aka ground covers) and rot anything underneath it. Comb them out of your miniature and dwarf trees too.

Preparing Ahead Makes it Stress-free

–       Check the soil – is it compacted? Roots need air too. Carefully work around – and close to the trunk of your trees and plants with a strong stick or rod, and poke holes in the soil. You are only aerating the soil, not lifting or moving it, so a little poking throughout the rootball should not harm the plant. BUT remember to work-around where your deciduous plants are if you don’t see them anymore.

–       Divide any perennials that need it. (Perennials are the plants that go dormant and grow back year after year. Annuals only live for one season.) Spring and fall are good times to divide anything that needs it, with the fall being the best. The new plant/division has plenty of time to get established over the winter and be ready to grow when the weather warms up next spring. Here’s more:

  • Divide every couple of years. The ground cover perennials that we use for miniature gardening need diving every couple of years to keep looking their best.
  • Some perennials clump and some spread slowly. If your plant has created another “clump,” or if the plant has spread out to create another smaller root system, you can cut it off from the mother plant and transplant it to another part of the garden.
  • More on how to know if your perennial needs dividing:
    • Divide after the year that the plant looks really good.
    • When there is a gap in the middle of the plant.
    • When you start to see smaller leaves in the center of the plant.
    • When you start to see yellowing leaves in the center, the cause may be that it needs dividing.
    • When the plant has no more room left to grow.
    • Or when the plant has become too big to suit a miniature scene.
An in ground Miniature Garden
This picture was taken in early September, 2012, you can see by the brown grass and yellow leaves on the Rhododendron, it was a really dry summer. Our established miniature garden needed a little help with the watering which we did at night, watering deeply and infrequently, to help train the roots to look for their own water source. The garden had a major over-haul in 2022/23 – see a part of it here. (There are more details, how to’s and photos of this renovation in our Miniature Garden Society)

Shovel-Pruning Makes it Easy Too

–       Be ruthless about your invaders. Some plants are very aggressive and, as anyone tempted by the look of a darling miniature plant, we sometimes plant aggressive plants in the ground unknowingly. The general garden rule: the more aggressive the plant, the more aggressive you can be with it.

Fall is a great the time to cut them short, cut them off and cut them back. Spare no runner, no clump. “Shovel pruning” makes is easy – literally cut any hidden runners off by plunging the shovel into the soil around the invasive plant. It’ll cut the runners off where they lay. Just keep a small part of the plant and that will come-back nicely next spring.

  • Some aggressive miniature garden plants are:
    • Fairy Vine, Muelenbeckia complexa and the Tricolor variety
    • In some areas: Baby Tears, Soleirolia soleirolii, both varieties
    • Violets
    • Bugleweed, Ajuga reptans
    • Brass Buttons, Leptinella squalida
Blue Bench in the Miniature Garden
See the heart-shaped leaves? There is one of them in front, towards the left. Those are the weedy violets. Every once in a while, I have a weak moment and leave them be – only to be overrun with them by the end of the summer. I’m tearing them out ruthlessly now, by next spring they should be at a manageable level to deal with. You’ll recognize them in your garden as they self-sow way too much and grow everywhere.

A Couple of More Things… Almost There!

–       Clean out your conifer dieback. All trees and shrubs exfoliate somehow. The miniature and dwarf conifers are no exception; they just do it differently. Slough off all the dead foliage and clean it out from the middle of the plants and away from the base of the plant to let light and air into the center of the plant. A kitchen fork makes the perfect rake for the miniature garden.

–       Water until it freezes. There’s a difference between “freeze-dried” and “frozen.” If your area has been in a drought, keep watering. The roots want to stay damp until they freeze for the winter. CHECK if it needs water in the middle of winter if it has been dry – again, you want the roots frozen, not freeze-dried. (Smile and wave hello if the neighbor sees you out the yard in the middle of winter watering your garden. :o)

Conifer dieback in a Golden Sprite Hinoki Cypress
Conifer dieback in a Golden Sprite Hinoki Cypress. Part the branches of your miniature or dwarf conifer to see if there is any dead foliage that needs cleaning out.

Prep for the New Extreme Weather Events

–       FOR EXTREME TEMPERATURE-DIPS: Use boughs/pots or burlap to insulate. ONLY for extreme temperature dip! If you’ve chosen the “right plant for the right place” and have plants and trees that are suitable for your area, you don’t need to worry unless there is a major dip in temp. Wait until the weather is cold enough though, it’s only to protect.

You can cover the plants gently with evergreen boughs – it is nature’s insulation. Upside-down poly-pots (plastic nursery pots) or burlap can be used as well. Be sure to take the cover off promptly when the weather returns to your normal winter weather. This works for in ground and containers.

–      Keep the snow on it. When it does snow, keep the snow on the garden. Resist the urge to unbury it. The snow will insulate the plants from the cold air and drastic dips in temperature. If the weather stays frigid for more than a couple of weeks, check to see anything needs watering. The freezing can dry out the soil, just like in your freezer. Remember you want the roots to be frozen, not freeze-dried.

Note that this is a general advice and you can always look up the care of individual plants on the Internet for your area. If you’re asking about any of our Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center plants, leave a comment below or email us through the website. For any questions, the Internet has become so huge that you can literally type in your very specific question and usually get an answer – to just about anything. Just make sure the website you

Winter, 2023 – This is one of two fairy garden sections I made to document different ways to build a garden for your fairies.

Thinking of Developing Your Own Miniature Property?

If you are thinking about building and growing a little mini garden or fairy garden kingdom of your very own, join us in the Miniature Garden Society for all the details, videos and how-tos around in-ground miniature gardening here. Being professional miniature gardener that studies, documents and then teaches the results, I can offer the right advice and guidance like no other person can. tudying the hobby for almost 25 years now through email or the forum within the Miniature Garden Society website.

SEE more videos of our latest miniature garden here, up in our YouTube channel. Please give us a thumbs-up and a comment so I know you’ve been visiting! <3

Two Green Thumbs’ Videos on YouTube

Got Insight?

Got an over-wintering tip for your area? Leave it below for our Fellow MGs and let us know where you are. We all have different ways of doing things.

Visit our store to see all the possibilities of the miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs, hardiness information is listed for your convenience.

Like this? You’ll love our FREE almost-weekly Mini Garden Gazette newsletter! Sign up here.

Christmas 2022 – a section of the in-ground miniature garden decorated for the holly-days.
Fairy Gardening with Two Green Thumbs.com

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