If you’ve been bitten by the garden décor bug, you probably know that it can be a “spendy” hobby. So why not get crafty? Making DIY indoor and outdoor planters, orbs, birdbaths and other ornamental items from inexpensive concrete will let you save money and come up with your own unique creations. Here are some ideas to get you off to a great start.
The simplest way to embark on your concrete crafting career is by constructing a planter with some kind of a mold – improvised and/or repurposed is perfect! For small to medium sizes, try recycling food containers and cardboard boxes, or yard sale finds such as old bowls and the like. If a larger planter is desired, build a mold from reclaimed wood. The shape should allow for easy removal of your finished product … unless you plan to literally break the mold. Any kitchenware will, of course, be ruined for future food prep, although it can be reused for more experiments with concrete.
Take a look at this fantastic tutorial by Wuvie via Instructables for step-by-step details of making planters and bowls from concrete. Don’t forget to poke drainage holes into your creation while the concrete is still moist.
Free Form Planter
If you’d like to go for an even more relaxed result, try a couple of substitutes for a rigid mold. Here you’ll need to use cement rather than a concrete mix. Fill plastic gloves with quick-drying cement, manipulating them into the contours you want (work fast!). You’ll end up with a set of amazing hand-shaped planters. Or saturate an old piece of cloth with a thin cement mixture and drape over a support like an empty upside-down gallon jar or a paint can. Remove it while still tacky; then let dry completely.
Casting garden décor from beautiful fresh leaves is very trendy these days. A layer of concrete reinforced with wire supports is applied to the underside of a medium to large leaf – such as hosta, rhubarb or elephant ear (or several together for a supersized effect) – and allowed to dry. After that, the original leaf is gently peeled away, leaving behind an exquisite cast of its natural curves and veins. This makes a wonderful bird bath or bird feeder … or simply an exquisite decorative element for your fairy garden or yard.
Garden orbs are also very much in style and sell for big bucks in home decorating stores. Make your own for much less using a similar method to the molded planter. In this case, your mold will be a spherical glass container. Check out garage sales, thrift shops or as a last resort, your local dollar store for these. Once your concrete has set, you can either break off the mold and recycle the glass pieces, or leave it in place to add shine to your handiwork.
Craft concrete tea light holders for convenient outdoor lighting. For extra wow, combine these with planters. Shape stepping stones to make a charming garden path with a price tag much, much lower than flagstone. A country chic bucket stool is molded by pouring concrete into – guess what? – a bucket, with sturdy branches of even lengths for legs. Any of these projects can be glitzed up by adding marbles, shells or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Dry your masterpiece thoroughly. Cure it for strength and to dilute the lye content of the concrete before filling with water for plants or animals, as in a birdbath or vase. When your project is completely dry, you can sand it lightly and paint or stain if you like. If you’re nostalgic for the grass head you played with as a child, seed finished planters with vines or grasses that look like hair.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.