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admin 07.07.2014

One way we’ve found to elevate an entire area of our train layouts is to build some of the track on a platform. These flat boxes are the best:  thick and sturdy, but you only need two ascending tracks to get up to the top. We usually use them as is, but our other DIY train set projects inspired us to make a more permanent addition to our layout. I wanted to paint it to look a little like the rock cliffs of the quarry in Blue Mountain Mystery.
He really enjoyed this painting project, and worked on it for a long time before asking me to finish the rest. A few days later, we built this layout together that focused less on aesthetics and more on elevating as much of the track as we could as high as possible. Some product links on this site are affiliate links for products we think are worth checking out.
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!
View DetailsThis auction is for a Vintage Gilbert American Flyer 25025 S Scale Train Set in the original box as pictured. The gray stone from that movie has a bluish cast…so, of course I discovered we were nearly out of blue paint.
While playing trains for the last four years, my Little Engineer and I have had a lot of fun and learned so much together.
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.
I'm excited to share our discoveries with other people who have kids who love trains in their lives. 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. 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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