Home Decor Crafts: DIY Sand Terrarium

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Looking for easy and relaxing craft ideas for the home? These DIY terrarium ideas offer creative solutions to your home decor needs! Making your own sand terrarium is surprisingly simple and the materials are inexpensive and easy to find.

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First, you’ll need to find the right glass container for your terrarium. All shapes and sizes work great. (The cylinder vase I use in this tutorial is 6” high and 7” in diameter, and the bowl shaped vase is 6” high with a 6” diameter and 3.5” opening.) Choosing a plant can be as easy as going to your favorite craft store and picking a faux air plant or succulent. Faux plants gives you the beauty of living plants with zero maintenance. Although, it should be noted that succulents and air plants are very easy to care for and require very little water. Succulents will require some soil, but air plants and faux plants can be placed inside a terrarium using only sand.

sand terrarium materials

Top: Succulents, gems & stones, soil, pebbles. Bottom: Extra coarse talus, field grass, Fluorescent Magenta sand, natural seashells, lichen

Items to decorate your terrarium such as:

If using real succulents:


  • Gems, stones or glass pebbles
  • Funnel

Project 1: Using real succulents

If using real succulents in your sand terrarium, you’ll need to plant your succulents in a smaller glass container with soil and pebbles first. This allows you to water your succulents without ruining the look and composition of your colorful sand layers. It’s also recommended to wash the sand prior to adding it to the container.

succulent sand terrarium Colorful sand layers are a fun design element! If using faux plants or air plants with this project, skip the planting step; Layer the sand and just add the plants on top.

Simply add about 1-2” or so of pebbles to the bottom of your small glass container (I’ve used an old glass tumbler from home). The pebbles allow for drainage of the water so the roots don’t rot or grow mold. It is also helpful to add horticultural charcoal to the soil mix to soak up moisture and prevent mold.

Then add soil almost to the top, leaving a hole in the center to plant your succulents. Once planted, add more soil until it is at the top of the glass, and the succulents feel securely in place and propped up.

succulent terrarium diy If using live succulents, layer pebbles and soil in a smaller glass container, plant succulents and then place in the larger container.

Place the planted succulents into the center of your larger glass container. Once in place, add your first layer of colored sand. Don’t worry about getting perfectly even layers--the more uneven, the more interesting your final design will be!

succulent terrarium ideas Place the smaller container of succulents inside the larger container.

Continue adding sand layers, alternating colors as you wish, until you reach the top of the smaller container. Use a funnel or a stiff piece of paper or cardboard to help place the sand and keep it from getting into your soil. The final sand layer should be about flush with the top of the smaller container in order to give the illusion that the succulents are planted straight into the sand.

how to build a sand terrarium Add layers of colored sand until you reach the top of the small container. Be sure not to fill your large container with too much sand, as it will get very heavy. Each bag of sand weighs 1 lb (1.25 cups).

Add coarse talus to the top of the soil to give contrast to the sand. This also helps keep the soil moist and helps keep the soil from spilling out into the sand.

terrarium how to Add coarse talus to cover the soil.

Add some decorations using natural seashells, gems, crystals, garden pebbles, and any other items that will add to the overall design. It’s up to you how much or how little to use. For a bold look, use items that contrast with the sand (light items on dark sand, dark items on light sand, etc); for something more subdued or subtle, use items that are similar to the color of the sand. Most of all, have fun with it!

cheap decorating ideas Add seashells, rocks, glass pebbles or other decoration to the top layer of sand.

To care for your succulents, be sure to follow the directions on the label or ask your local nursery or home gardening center. In general, though, they need very little water and prefer dry soil and lots of indirect sunlight.

Project 2: Using faux plants or real air plants

inexpensive home decor faux plants Using faux plants are a great alternative and require no maintenance.

Using faux plants are a great alternative and create an equally beautiful result. Pour in your choice of colored sand (In this case, I just used white), place your faux plant in the center and add various decorative items.

diy decorating Have fun with placing your decorative items! If using a real air plant, just be sure that you can easily remove the plant for watering.

I placed two small pieces of the autumn mix lichen on either side, behind the plant and then placed in the field grass. It gives it a kind of beachy feel. Then I added various shells and rocks for added interest. If using a real air plant, simply follow the same directions. To care for your air plant, just soak in water every 3-4 weeks for 20-30 minutes, shake off excess water and place upside down to dry. Place your air plant back inside your terrarium when dry.

diy house decor Sand terrariums are among the simplest home craft ideas that produce beautiful results and can be completed in an afternoon!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make a sand terrarium and hope you can find exciting ways to add color and beauty to your house with this simple home decor craft.

Tools & Materials