DIY Vase with colorful sand art terrarium

Remember when everyone thought terrariums were just a fad making a comeback? With so many amazing containers and varied ways to create them, terrariums are standing the test of time. Today I’ll show you another fun way we’ve come up with for creating sand terrariums—these adorable table-top gems.

Normally, we don’t recommend succulents or cacti for terrariums. They don’t like being wet or cooped up inside a glass house. But everyone loves them, they look great as specimens (as opposed to leafy ferns and other plants that thrive in terrarium conditions), and they’re really easy to plant.

So, if you’re going to use them, only water the actual plant in small amounts (a turkey baster is a great tool for this), never cover the terrarium or put them in a cloche, and accept this simple philosophy: You might kill the plant, but remember how much fun you had making your terrarium. Plus, it’s way cheaper than cut flowers. Spend the $6 on some new plants and have fun all over again.

Things you’ll need for making your terrarium:
After you’ve picked the succulents you want to use, you’ll need to gather a few other items to begin. Moss and little bits of driftwood for decorating. Chopsticks for placing and moving things. A paint brush for cleaning things off.

Buy sand from a craft store:

Craft sand comes in many colors and you can have a lot of fun with this. Get at least three choices that complement each other and make you happy.

Start layering your sand

Find a glass container that you like. (We prefer one that has a top large enough to work with and sides that are straight so you can really see the sand design.) Lay down your base layer of sand evenly across the bottom.

Building the layers

Begin pouring the different colors of sand in piles all around the sides like this.  Be careful not to fill up the center.

Small pebbles

When you’ve got the sand to a height you’re happy with, lay down a layer of pebbles to help with drainage and to keep the sand stable for when you add your plants.

Add cactus mix

Then you want to add your soil. Always use cactus mix as it’s much looser than normal potting soil and works better for succulents. You don’t need much; just add an inch or so and then make a little hole in the center. Do this by pushing the soil down (and maybe taking a tad out). This is why you don’t want too much sand in the middle.

Select your plants

Pull your succulent out of its container (2″ varieties work best) and shake off as much soil as possible without damaging the roots. Place it into the hole in your soil. Do this with as many plants as you can fit (or just use one if you’d prefer). Don’t worry about the plants being crowded… most succulents actually like that.

Brushing rocks under the plants

Add another layer of pebbles to finish the top. Here’s where a paint brush comes in handy. It helps even everything out.

Using chopsticks to decorate

Begin decorating the top. Sometimes it’s a good idea to decide if you want a backside or not as that can determine how you place objects. The chopsticks really come in handy when you want to move things around.

And you’re done!