According to Martha Stewart, a dish garden contains a small arrangement of plants in a shallow, table-top container along with decorative accents designed to look like a miniature landscape. A dish garden is assembled with a shallow container, gravel, horticultural charcoal, plants and potting soil, plus decorative objects and moss or sand.
Sprinkle the bottom of the container with under an inch of gravel and charcoal. Take several small houseplants out of their original pots, and arrange them in the shallow dish. Cover the root balls of each plant with potting soil, and spread a thinner layer of soil over the remaining areas that are covered with gravel. Arrange several small decorative items in the container that complement the plants. Ideas for items to decorate the landscape include stones, shells, a small building or bench, a figurine or a fence that are laid out in a pleasing design.
Cover the soil in the dish garden with a layer of sand or moss over the exposed soil. Gently moisten the dish garden with water. Allow the water to soak into the soil for several minutes before carefully draining out any excess water from the container while holding the arrangement in place. Never let excess water remain in the container, and water the dish garden whenever the soil feels dry.