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The Little Engineer was two years old when I first got the idea to make an outdoor train table.
I had visions of building a train table that could hold a layer of dirt for planting a landscape. Lots of planting soil: The pots need to be filled to the top, so it might take more than you think! Rocks or other decorative features: We used rocks we already had lying around the backyard. Suretrack clips or no-residue duct tape: This is really helpful for keeping the tracks together on the moss, and over any uneven areas in the pots. Plant low-growing, steppable plants, with flat plants like Irish and Scotch moss around the outside, and slightly taller ones in the center. When the plants are established and filled in enough to support the track all the way around, it’s time to play! As you can see in the photo below, I used rocks to support the tracks where the tracks cross from one pot to another. I would also recommend using either the Suretrack clips or no-residue duct tape to hold the tracks together.
If you’re looking for a more traditional wooden train table to go inside your house, you can find out all the details you need to know in our guide to the best wooden train tables.
We’ve kept our train garden intentionally simple so far for the sake of versatility, but there are so many fun things you can do with garden small worlds — check out these fairy garden and outdoor small world posts for more ideas!
Some product links on this site are affiliate links for products we think are worth checking out. A RUSH HOUR train stoppage has been called off after late night talks between unions and Irish Rail management aimed at averting the strike.
This would have meant all trains due to depart before 6am would still leave as scheduled and run until they reach their destination – even if the train is due to arrive there after 6am. Once the work stoppage ended at 9am, services were due to resume as normal, though Irish Rail warned there may be some slight knock-on delays at first. During the last stoppage, some additional capacity was provided by Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus sent out its full fleet. Representatives from Siptu and NBRU and Iarnrod Eireann attended talks at the Workplace Relations Commission in a last ditch attempt to avert the strike.

Unions are seeking compensation for drivers for past productivity measures that were put in place in the last few years. Iarnrod Eireann has claimed unions during the talks had denied their members a wage increase of almost 8% with productivity proposals that would have delivered an increase in their earnings over the next two years. On the night of 22 October, before talks broke down, management preemptively briefed journalists. The fact that homelessness is still such a big problem in Ireland makes me angry, writes Transition Year student Mark Hartery. The plan to link Child Benefit to children’s school attendance records has come under much scrutiny this week. If you click on one, we will receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you — on anything you buy at Amazon for a certain length of time afterwards.
We had been watching videos of garden railways on YouTube, and I thought it would be fun to have a mini garden railway with wooden trains in our backyard. I love that it can serve several purposes — already, our train garden has doubled as a bunny garden, and as a place to take pictures of LEGO minifigures. As for other decorative features, check out the list of fairy garden links at the end of the post for plenty of inspiration! You might be able to add a couple of short straight tracks to make an oval, but I think the circle would look nicer. If you’re going to be connecting tracks across more than one pot, fill the pots all the way to the top.
Go for a mixture of colors, textures, and scents. To save some money on this step, I divided up the steppable plants up into 2-4 clumps and planted them spaced apart, especially the moss, which I dotted around the outer circle. If I had been smart and filled the pots to the top, they might not have been necessary for the lower track, but you would still want to use rocks with a flattish side facing up to raise the bridge up higher — that’s how I made it tall enough for non-IKEA engines to pass beneath!
Our Suretrack clips really helped keep the track together on top of the slightly uneven surface of the carpet-soft plants. Make sure you also read my answer to the big question, Do You Really Need a Train Table?, and my list of temporary alternatives to gluing wooden train tracks to a train table.
I take the tracks inside after we play with them and store them separately from the others. While playing trains for the last four years, my Little Engineer and I have had a lot of fun and learned so much together.

Traffic volumes were significantly higher all across the country with more people taking to the roads in their own cars. They say this is something management had already agreed to work with them on but that now there is no movement. This was further demonstrated in a communication from company chief David Franks to drivers this week. This caused fury amongst union representatives who were still sitting at the negotiating table when they heard it was being reported the talks had collapsed. But I was always put off by the thought of all the work it would be to design and build one.
You might consider planting herbs in the center of the pots to add another sensory element (look for ones that don’t grow very tall).
This train garden is perfect for incorporating the natural items we played with for our Toy Train Freight from Nature: Summer post, or any other small, safe objects you can find in nature.
However, it took about a month and a half of sunshine and water for the moss to fill in enough to lay the track on, so if you want the train garden to be ready sooner, buy more plants. With the Suretrak clips or no-residue duct tape, the tracks can be moved as one unit, too, if you have somewhere to put them still put together. I'm excited to share our discoveries with other people who have kids who love trains in their lives. Until this summer, when I realized that I could make a wooden train garden railway for the Little Engineer without using a single tool. This is a super easy way to bring train play outside, and the results have delighted us both!
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