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Make your own Dino Swamp

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

You can create a cool prehistoric scene for your dinosaur models and toys with everyday gardening supplies.


  • Large plant pot and saucer, earth or stone color preferred
  • Large bucket of clean small (but bigger than aquarium-size) natural color gravel
  • 16 quarts commercial potting or other high-quality soil, measured dry
  • Two-foot-diameter circle of strong black garbage bag (leaf or trash compactor bags are nice and strong)
  • Recyclable container (two-liter soda bottle)
  • Small submersible fountain pump found at most hardware stores
  • Clear tubing, at least six inches long, and the diameter prescribed by your pump
  • “Outdoor” rated UL-listed extension cord
  • Small ferns (and other prehistoric-looking flora), garden moss, and small, interesting garden rocks
  • Your favorite plastic dinosaur models and toys


Step 1: Measure five inches from the bottom of the container and carefully cut off the top.

Step 2: Attach tubing to pump outlet. Set the container flat on a table and line the container with the garbage bag. Place pump in bottom of lined container and fill voids with gravel to top of container. Gather remaining liner and use a twist-tie to temporarily keep clean. Set aside.

Step 3: Place plant pot and saucer on a flat surface and fill the pot halfway with gravel. Place the pump/container assembly on top of level gravel in pot and slightly toward the front.

Step 4: Carefully fill area around pump/container assembly with soil about one-third of the way to pot’s top (lip). Gently moisten soil surface with a small amount of water.

Step 5: Arrange your plants (remove from individual pots first) around the pump/container assembly, largest toward the back. Fill remaining area around plants with soil until just below the top of the plant pot.

Step 6: Shape a depression around the edge of the pump/container assembly. Bury the pump power cord and snake it out the back of the pot. Remove the bag twist-tie and gently line the depression with it. Insert one or two of your small garden rocks in the depression (do not puncture the bag). Line the edge of the depression with gravel and cut any excess bag.

Step 7: Carefully fill your swamp and cut the tubing to a desired length. Camouflage its end with garden rocks and gravel. Water plants without running soil into the swamp.

Step 8: Place your remaining garden rocks, moss and dinosaurs to complete the scene. Be creative. Nothing looks better than a meat eater stalking from behind the ferns. Better yet, decorate the pot by gluing on various imitation fossils.

Step 9: Have an adult locate an appropriate outdoor electricity outlet. Run power to your pump via the extension cord.

Did You Know?

Ferns and falling water help clear the air of allergens and pollutants; one through respiration, and the other by creating negative ions that electrically “charge” the surrounding air and “stick” to dirt. Placed around the home, plants and ornamental fountains improve the quality of our indoor environments and our overall health.

21 Comments on Make your own Dino Swamp

  1. Derrick, Age 10, Florida // July 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm // Reply

    I’m not that interested in dinosaurs, but my friend is and we made this together so I can answer some questions about it!

    -You need an adult to help you or you probably will have no idea how to do many of the steps!

    -Most of the suplies can be found at places like Home Depot® or hardware stores in your area. The plastic dinosaurs are cheep and easy to find at Toys ‘R’ Us®, Wal*Mart®, and Target®.

    -It takes a couple hours to make, but even for a person who doesn’t like dinosaurs all that much, (like me,) it’s hours of fun, not boring work.

    -The work is a little complicated and so are the diagrams, but it isn’t any harder then a complicated lego project! Hope I could help! :) ;)

  2. If you could tell me where I could find all of the pieces I would want to build it!!!!!!

  3. mini toga // June 6, 2007 at 9:08 pm // Reply

    No comprendo Senoir

  4. totally sweat

  5. This is so cool! I really needed a setting.

  6. hott bunz // May 2, 2007 at 9:33 pm // Reply

    I’m gonna make this tomorrow, and a bunch of other dioramas, but i’m gonna spraypaint the fake plants, and make it really wild.

  7. Man this project is cool, I love Dinosaurs

  8. looks long will it last?

  9. if you make it a little more simple people will like it.but its a good project

  10. too confusing too big of words

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