Making Garden Decor by June Morgan, Master Gardener.
A beautifully planted garden often has whimsical, useful, or comforting additions to grace its landscape. Unfortunately, many store-bought items, especially those made of concrete, are very expensive. The do-it-yourselfer does not have to be an artist in order to make striking sculptural decor out of concrete. Hundreds of different shapes can be made with this medium, such as spheres and leaves of all sizes which can be used for projects such as fountains, stepping stones, and wire sculptures.
Molds for stepping stones can be made of almost anything – aluminum pie plates, pizza boxes, or cardboard cut to desired shapes. Large leaves such as elephant ears can even be used as the final shape of stepping stones. The grocery is a rich source for deep-veined leaves for a good impression. Using sand for the base, place the leaf with vein side up, cover with plastic wrap, then spread the wet concrete mix to cover the leaf. Plan for at least 3/8” inches thick for lasting strength. After several days, flip the leaf carefully and smooth any rough spots with a wire brush.
Concrete spheres of all sizes and transformations are interesting additions to the garden. Solid balls are surprisingly easy to make and can be used to nest among the plantings or as part of another assembly. There are essentially two methods of making them with molds of disposable glass globes from thrift stores or garage sales, and balloons or beach balls. After placing the globe on a sturdy base such as a bucket, fill the interior with the concrete mix, making sure to level it at the opening. After it is hardened, place it in a plastic garbage bag and tie the opening. Then, taking a hammer and wearing gloves, crack the globe all around with just enough force to release the glass from the concrete. Pry off the remaining shards, keeping them in the bag. The resulting surface can be rough or smooth depending upon the amendments to the wet mix, such as peat moss.
Another type of orb is not solid but a see-through sphere. Place an inflated balloon or beach ball onto a sturdy bucket or tripod. Cut fluffy yarn, heavy string or even polar fleece into lengths to go around, over, and under. Dip them into the concrete mix and drape them in no particular design onto the sphere, some touching, some not. When set, deflate the balloon or beach ball (of course the valve has been left available). When working with concrete, old clothes, rubber gloves, and a dust mask are givens.
For more details about concrete projects, go to Pinterest on the internet where you will find information about the types of mixes for different projects, coloring instructions, and many photos and videos to inspire your garden planning.