Garden Gnome Home
Make a place in your garden for small people
By Eric Smith, St. Paul, Minnesota
Backyards need secrets. Unobserved behind my kitchen window, I see my children burrowing into private dens in the shrubbery, digging mysterious holes, and building hidden forts. For me it's flowers to plant, bushes to prune, grass to mow. For them it's a whole special world.
The gnome and his door are a part of that world. The children and I collaborated on design and decoration—especially decoration—and they even helped me glue the pieces together (no nails needed for this project). The door has quickly become a popular way-station in the backyard circuit, a place for playing and leaving secret notes for friends—but most of all a place where you can open a door and go somewhere else.
(Note on wood: we used rough sawn cedar for this project, which is sold as 1x dimension, but actually measures 7/8 inch thick. You can also use clear pine, which measures 3/4 inch. The letters correlate with the image in the step-by-step instructions on the next page.)
- A : 2-7/8" x 5 1/2" x 11" sides
- B: 1-7/8" x 7 1/4" x 14 9/16" front
- C: 1- 7/8" x 7 1/4" x 8 1/2" base
- D: 1-7/8" x 7 1/4" x 8" roof panel (width of side plus 1-1-1/4" front overhang, plus 3/4" for scribing to the tree in back)
- E: 1- 7/8" x 6 1/2" x 8" roof panel
- F: 1- 7/8" x 7 1/4" x 3 9/16" rear roof support
- G: 1- 7/8" x 3/4" x 4 1/4" front cross beam
- H: 1- 1" x 4" dowel—optional chimney
- J: 2 -7/8" x 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" —optional flower boxes
- 1 - 1 x 6 x 4'
- 1 - 1 x 8 x 4'
- brass nail-on hinges
- exterior glue
- Four 1-5/8-inch deck screws
- 1" wood dowel
- Glass beads, plastic flowers and plants, bird's nest, wood plugs for door knobs, and other optional decorations can all be purchased at craft and hobby stores.
Download a pdf of the instructions.
MAKING A GNOME DOOR FOR YOUR TREE
Trees come in all shapes and sizes, and although our basic design will work for most trees, our measurements may not. If our dimensions seem wrong for your tree, try larger or smaller sides and roof, or add another front step under the base, or pile up a foundation of rocks, or cover gaps with plastic flowers or plants (the real purpose of our flower boxes).
We'd like to see the designs you come up with for your gnome door. Send us photos, and we'll publish the best in a future issue.