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About 65 million years ago a meteor hit Earth, wiping out the dinosaur population for good. Though dinosaurs became extinct, many of the plants on which they feasted still grow throughout the world! Today, there are many modern, thriving plants that originate from prehistoric times, and can serve as the perfect foundation to start your very own dinosaur garden, an outdoor play space where your kids can feel like they’re hiding from the great T-rex or soaring with Pterodactyls. The key to making your dinosaur garden is to make it an interactive space. Brontosauruses didn’t sit back and admire their dinosaur friends from afar; they got messy and played with their companions outdoors, as children should do too. Follow the simple steps below to make a dinosaur garden that will offer hours of imagination-fueled fun and a roaring good time. 

There are many ways to build your dinosaur garden, so there is no set ‘what you’ll need’ checklist. However, the one thing you WILL need is an outdoor garden area. Once that spot is identified, decide which plants you want to use for dinosaur themed fun. While you don’t need to add plants with a prehistoric origin, doing so will add to the novelty of the experience for your children. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Ferns: Not only are ferns one of the oldest species on Earth, they are also a visually appealing addition to any dino garden. Make sure you keep your fern plant well-hydrated , and a nice shady location is preferred. 

Horsetails: Horsetails are another plant dating back millions of years. In the modern day they are often considered a weed because they can spread rapidly. If you choose to plant them, you may want to give them their own raised flower pot to prevent a garden takeover. 

Moss: It is actually quite simple to bring this generic plant to life in your dinosaur garden. Clear a small space to get rid of any sort of plants or rocks that may be on the top of the soil. Make the soil wet enough to be muddy. You can take pieces of moss growing other places in your yard (or from a nearby park) and press them into the muddy patch. Place a stick through each transplanted piece to make the moss stay and eventually it will attach itself to its new home. 

Cycads: A cycad is a small shrub that looks like the upper half of a palm tree. It is a great choice if you want to add larger foliage to your dinosaur garden. Avoid over-watering or cold weather with these plants because both can cause damage. Also, don’t expect cycads to grow quickly, these Jurassic plants like to take their time!

While plants are a good starting point for any garden (that’s the whole point, right?), there are many other creative additions you can use to spice up your dino sanctuary to make it more interactive. 

  • No dinosaur garden would be complete without dinosaurs! While dinosaurs went extinct long ago, many craft retailers offer good plastic substitutes. Your children will enjoy selecting the ones they’d most like to play with.
  • Get crafty with rocks! Gather rocks from around your yard or a local park and stack them to make pathways, mountains, or even a bridge if you’re feeling ambitious. Break out the paint and color a larger rock with red, orange, and yellow to make it look like an active volcano. You can use that same paint on smaller rocks to scatter the garden with "dinosaur eggs" as well. 
  • Purchase a dinosaur footprint mold to imprint tracks in the mud. Bonus points if you make the tracks permanent by doing a wet cement craft. That’ll give you dino tracks that’ll last for life!
  • Customize your dinosaur garden by making a big sign. To continue with the prehistoric theme, try using a weathered plank of wood and paint “Taylor’s Dino Garden” or “Jeff’s Jurassic Jungle” on the front. You can even glue on some store-bought moss to make the sign feel extra authentic. 

Talk with your child to choose which plants and creative additions work best to transform a part of your backyard into a prehistoric playground. Dinosaur fanatics will love bringing their dino figurines to life in a magical landscape they have created. In fact, this will be one project your kids will sure think is dino-mite!

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