A prehistoric dinosaur garden, with exotic and primordial plants, is a fun and engaging project for the whole family.
Dinosaurs haven’t roamed the earth for at least 65 million years, and they aren’t likely to make a comeback any time soon. But many of the plants these reptiles ate and stomped on are still around, and they haven’t changed much over time.
Recreating this prehistoric environment in your garden will provide hours of fun and imaginative play opportunities for the young dinosaur enthusiasts in your family.
Prehistoric garden designs use primitive plants that existed during the era of the dinosaurs. Several different varieties of landscaping trees and ground plants fit in well with this gardening theme and are well-suited for growing in Northern Utah.
For your kid-friendly primordial garden, go easy on the flowers. Most flowering plants didn’t begin to develop and spread until the end of the dinosaur era. You can include edible plants, however, because the prehistoric crowd was a hungry bunch and no one wants a hungry dinosaur roaming the back yard!
Your dinosaur garden can be as large or as small as you like. Some families create miniature versions, similar to fairy gardens. But, if you have the room to spare, you can dedicate a larger portion of the yard and create a dino garden that your family can enjoy year after year.
Ginkgo biloba, also known as maidenhair tree, is a perfect choice for a prehistoric garden. The ginkgo is referred to as a living fossil, as it dates back 270 million years. These striking trees have unique fan-shaped leaves and can grow to heights of 25 to 50 feet.
Metasequoia, or the dawn redwood, is another tree that was familiar to the dinosaurs. Scientists believed it to be extinct until a living specimen was discovered in 1944, growing in a rural area of China. Dawn redwoods are fast-growing, pyramid-shaped trees that can reach up to 100 feet tall. Their broad, fluted trunks give the trees a unique, primordial appearance.
Other interesting tree options for your dinosaur garden include bald cypress and other types of redwoods and sequoias. Weeping cedar and larch trees can also work in this garden theme.
If your project isn’t large enough to accommodate full-size trees, consider using miniature versions in a raised bed or container.
Cycas revoluta, or the cycad, evolved right along with the dinosaurs. These garden plants resemble today’s palm trees, but are much shorter, about the size of a shrub. Growing cycads in the colder parts of Utah can be challenging but they can do well with some winter garden protection. Be careful if you have younger children, however, as the seeds can be poisonous if ingested.
For low-growing plants to fill out the rest of your dinosaur garden, look to the familiar fern. These primitive plants date back more than 300 million years, and come in many interesting varieties. Most grow well in partial or full shade, making them a perfect choice for planting under your trees.
Horsetail herbs, gunnera plants and juniper shrubs are other low-growing options for a prehistoric garden. Fill in the rest of the spaces with mosses, rock mounds and path and – of course – some toy dinosaurs. You can also add some areas dedicated to play, with sand, “petrified” wood or boulders for sitting.
Then sit back and watch the little ones have fun in your very own Jurassic Park!
The friendly experienced staff at Millcreek Gardens can help you choose the perfect trees, shrubs, plants and accessories for all of your gardening and landscaping needs. Stop by our Salt Lake City garden center today to browse our extensive selection and gather inspiration for your kid-friendly dinosaur garden.