An economical DIY miniature natural forest garden of sorts in the concrete jungle

Nitin K

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Nov 23, 2018
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Hi Friends,

Thought I would share my experience in building a miniature garden landscaping especially for those who have a paucity of garden space. I have always loved nature & plants. But living in a city had constricted my thinking about gardening especially when you don't have space around the house & live in a flat. I was procrastinating about doing this since the last 2 years but the lockdown this year gave me a push in materialising it finally.
The total cost for this came well within Rs.5,000/-. I used a glass wash basin(Rs. 2000) with a mesh trap of Rs. 35, soil & gravel Rs. 80, plants around Rs. 600/-, screw driver( for loosening soil) - Rs. 75/-, water spray container Rs. 65/-. There are FM's having far more experience than me like Hydrovac & some other's who can guide better & give more inputs in gardening. Any ideas for improvement are most welcome.

I wanted a ceramic rectangular container but couldn't find a proper size on Amazon . So scouted the ceramic shops & some were exorbitant in price. Thought of getting one made with glass or Acrylic(didn't want a fish tank) but it should also take the weight of mud & stones which gets quite heavy when done. Finally got a glass basin of approximately 14 inches X 12 inches in size with a pretty colour & pebbles pattern. Got gloves, tweezer( for removing unwanted soil lumps & leaves from difficult areas ) & a metal paint scraper.
First I added a circular mesh trap which fitted perfectly blocking the basin hole & allowing water to drain out. Then added small gravel stones & coir on top of the gravel to prevent soil loss when watering. The last layer on top was supposed to be red soil mixed with manure. First prepared basic landscaping with the stones I could find in my society & made a small cave with stones around it to hold other plants. There are excellent videos on youtube for miniature stone landscaping but I wanted to go simple since this was my first project. Next I decided the spots where the plants would be planted which I had bought in advance. Since you dont want fast growing plants or plants that grow big, it is better to look out for small plants. Adding plants with small colourful leaves would give a break in the greens. Luckily I found some small violet flowering plants growing wild in our society & lost no opportunity in using them.

After planting the plants, taking advantage of the monsoon season , I scraped the moss from the society compound wall using the paint scrapper. I could get 2 varieties of moss. Once the moss is slightly moist, scrapping it off the surface becomes an easy task. I took some tree bark from the rain tree from the society compound & placed the moss on it with a little mud which helps in preserving moisture.
A lot of things come for free if we really look around. So basically in 2 days, you can have this miniature landscaping ready with a little planning. One day for buying the stuff & plants. The next day within 3 hours you can have it ready. I have ordered miniature houses & toy mushrooms from Amazon to just add for decoration to spruce it up if there is space for them but the delivery may take some time.

My biggest challenge is to keep the moss alive since the rains have stopped & I have to spray them around 4 times a day considering the heat in Mumbai as the rains have receded. Watering can be done 3 to 4 times a week but with the right quantity & not too much. So far 2 days have passed & I am keeping my fingers crossed about the moss. Direct sunlight should be avoided & the bowl can be kept in the balcony or near the window.
As an alternative option, one can go for succulent plants since many of them are small, grow slowly & require less water. But my personal choice was for going for ferns & moss which mimic a forest.
 

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moktan

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Kalimpong
Congratulations for bringing the outdoors in. Am sure this oasis of greenery will do wonders for your soul!
Another project to take up perhaps is a living wall on a similar or slightly larger scale !
 

rpmahale

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Absolutely stunning and looks like mission accomplished. It looks lot better than regular plants in pot. It different and beautiful. You have a great perspective in this field...
 

Nitin K

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Nov 23, 2018
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Location
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Congratulations for bringing the outdoors in. Am sure this oasis of greenery will do wonders for your soul!
Another project to take up perhaps is a living wall on a similar or slightly larger scale !

Thanks a lot Moktan. Greenery sure is very soothing in the concrete jungle even if it is on a small scale. Wish I could do something on a larger scale as you have suggested. An expert like you can surely give a lot of advice. I am in awe of your place & garden. Staying in the hills with nature is just a distant dream for many of us.

Beautiful. Well done. Has given me the inspiration to do something like this which I have always wanted.

Thanks Mayank, there are some great you tube videos. You can complete it within 2 days. The DIY happiness is much more than purchasing something ready like this. Besides it is a portable garden.:)

Absolutely stunning and looks like mission accomplished. It looks lot better than regular plants in pot. It different and beautiful. You have a great perspective in this field...

Thanks for you kind words RP. Wanted to do something different. Still I do have a lot to learn from the experts.
 

Nitin K

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Looking very nice. Is this same as terrarium?
Any inputs on how to get started...?

Thanks Arun. I may be wrong but a terrarium would be inside enclosed glass walls with miniature plants like a glass bowl or a fish tank as in the attached images from the net. In fact in some terrariums, there is a kind of ecosystem & temperature control of their own. I would call what I have done as a simplistic miniature landscaping. For terrariums more expertise & knowledge would be required especially preparing a landscape with a limited opening on top like jars. The bottom layers would also include charcoal among other things. Maintenance of terrariums may require more time & effort. I have briefly written above how to get started & I would gladly reach out if you require any help.
 

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oldmonk

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Aug 7, 2020
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on the couch !
very nice @Nitin K

lot of hard work this is.. but can be very pleasant.

do you know how can we keep away squirrels from eating small buds of hibiscus or rose plants in my balcony without resorting to exterminating them or using grills or gratings which can block my view of the outside.

I find squirrels even on higher floors and they can be a menace as far as eating plants are concerned.
 

Sean de Silva

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Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
1,378
Points
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Location
Mumbai
Hi Friends,

Thought I would share my experience in building a miniature garden landscaping especially for those who have a paucity of garden space. I have always loved nature & plants. But living in a city had constricted my thinking about gardening especially when you don't have space around the house & live in a flat. I was procrastinating about doing this since the last 2 years but the lockdown this year gave me a push in materialising it finally.
The total cost for this came well within Rs.5,000/-. I used a glass wash basin(Rs. 2000) with a mesh trap of Rs. 35, soil & gravel Rs. 80, plants around Rs. 600/-, screw driver( for loosening soil) - Rs. 75/-, water spray container Rs. 65/-. There are FM's having far more experience than me like Hydrovac & some other's who can guide better & give more inputs in gardening. Any ideas for improvement are most welcome.

I wanted a ceramic rectangular container but couldn't find a proper size on Amazon . So scouted the ceramic shops & some were exorbitant in price. Thought of getting one made with glass or Acrylic(didn't want a fish tank) but it should also take the weight of mud & stones which gets quite heavy when done. Finally got a glass basin of approximately 14 inches X 12 inches in size with a pretty colour & pebbles pattern. Got gloves, tweezer( for removing unwanted soil lumps & leaves from difficult areas ) & a metal paint scraper.
First I added a circular mesh trap which fitted perfectly blocking the basin hole & allowing water to drain out. Then added small gravel stones & coir on top of the gravel to prevent soil loss when watering. The last layer on top was supposed to be red soil mixed with manure. First prepared basic landscaping with the stones I could find in my society & made a small cave with stones around it to hold other plants. There are excellent videos on youtube for miniature stone landscaping but I wanted to go simple since this was my first project. Next I decided the spots where the plants would be planted which I had bought in advance. Since you dont want fast growing plants or plants that grow big, it is better to look out for small plants. Adding plants with small colourful leaves would give a break in the greens. Luckily I found some small violet flowering plants growing wild in our society & lost no opportunity in using them.

After planting the plants, taking advantage of the monsoon season , I scraped the moss from the society compound wall using the paint scrapper. I could get 2 varieties of moss. Once the moss is slightly moist, scrapping it off the surface becomes an easy task. I took some tree bark from the rain tree from the society compound & placed the moss on it with a little mud which helps in preserving moisture.
A lot of things come for free if we really look around. So basically in 2 days, you can have this miniature landscaping ready with a little planning. One day for buying the stuff & plants. The next day within 3 hours you can have it ready. I have ordered miniature houses & toy mushrooms from Amazon to just add for decoration to spruce it up if there is space for them but the delivery may take some time.

My biggest challenge is to keep the moss alive since the rains have stopped & I have to spray them around 4 times a day considering the heat in Mumbai as the rains have receded. Watering can be done 3 to 4 times a week but with the right quantity & not too much. So far 2 days have passed & I am keeping my fingers crossed about the moss. Direct sunlight should be avoided & the bowl can be kept in the balcony or near the window.
As an alternative option, one can go for succulent plants since many of them are small, grow slowly & require less water. But my personal choice was for going for ferns & moss which mimic a forest.

Beautiful!!! You are blessed with green fingers. thanks for sharing :)
 

nimuz

New Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
13
Points
3
Location
Bangalore
Hi Nitin,
Great Job, looks stunning!! Kudos for the effort. Nature in any form has its own soothing effect. Now, its given me the itch to try something similar as love greenery and Nature. Its truly inspiring.
 

Nitin K

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
1,705
Points
113
Location
India
very nice @Nitin K

lot of hard work this is.. but can be very pleasant.

do you know how can we keep away squirrels from eating small buds of hibiscus or rose plants in my balcony without resorting to exterminating them or using grills or gratings which can block my view of the outside.

I find squirrels even on higher floors and they can be a menace as far as eating plants are concerned.

Hi Old Monk,

Thanks. Even, we do have squirrels running about in our society but I have never faced any issues from them. In fact the sparrows eat some leaves of whatever few plants we have. I have left it at that. A fine mesh on the grill may help but may not look nice. I am sorry, can't think of some solution for that. A cat is something they are afraid of hence they keep to the trees in our society as we have around 2 cats roaming freely within the premises.

Beautiful!!! You are blessed with green fingers. thanks for sharing :)

Thanks for your kind words Sean. I thank the almighty for the green fingers.:)


Hi Nitin,
Great Job, looks stunning!! Kudos for the effort. Nature in any form has its own soothing effect. Now, its given me the itch to try something similar as love greenery and Nature. Its truly inspiring.

Thanks Nimuz, nature is truly inspiring & soothing. Please do try it & believe me it is not that time consuming. It will give you immense satisfaction.
 

Sean de Silva

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
1,378
Points
113
Location
Mumbai
very nice @Nitin K

lot of hard work this is.. but can be very pleasant.

do you know how can we keep away squirrels from eating small buds of hibiscus or rose plants in my balcony without resorting to exterminating them or using grills or gratings which can block my view of the outside.

I find squirrels even on higher floors and they can be a menace as far as eating plants are concerned.

I love squirrels. We have plenty of them running up n down our coconut trees squeaking away to glory lol. I feed them nuts sporadically. We also have few colony Toms and a couple of pussies that are natural predators. Squirrels raise their alarm calls on spotting them.
 

Nitin K

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Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
1,705
Points
113
Location
India
An update post 9 days after planting them. The plants have survived so far. But have to spray the moss around 3 times a day to keep them from drying. Did a few cosmetic changes & added more moss in the rock crevices, small props like houses & red mushrooms. Wish the props( no great choices on Amazon) were not so conspicuous , houses should have had more detail in it & blended more with the environment. The colours may look more yellow & saturated due to the evening sun & since these are mobile camera snaps. I am leaving it at this for now.
 

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