Looking for some creative garden art ideas to DIY? Concrete leaves are just the ticket, they turn out amazing and are simply gorgeous tucked into flower beds and around the yard. Not only are they easy to make, they last for years!
Rhubarb leaves are typically the choice to use for imprinting since they’re so large, but other smaller varieties like the hosta can be used too. Let the finished product dry to its natural gray if preferred but consider tinting them in assorted shades using special dyes or paint, it’s really not that complicated but the results can be amazing.
Tips & Tricks
First up: Here is a list of tips for working safely with concrete. It’s actually very corrosive and can cause damage to eyes, skin & lungs so please take the steps necessary to ensure a safe project.
- Depending on the size being made, a big 5-gallon plastic pail should do the trick if making a single leaf. You want something that is sturdy with plenty of room for mixing. If there’s wet mix left over when you’re done, just let it dry in the pail. Do not rinse/wash excess down the drain.
- It goes without saying: work outside and not in the garage or on the driveway. The last thing anyone wants is a dried “lump” that escaped attention until it was too late.
- Always protect your eyes! All it takes is a slight breeze to get some of the cement dust in the eyes or a clumsy tool drop that splashes a blob up into your face. Wear safety glasses while working.
- Dust mask: Keep a well-fitting mask on to avoid breathing in any of the dust.
- Skin needs protection too: Wear a long sleeve t-shirt, long pants and rubber gloves while working with wet cement. If some splashes on skin, quickly rinse it off with water.
- Don’t run out in the middle of the project! Mix up a bit more than you think you’ll need just in case. For any leftover, pour into an old plastic container and remove once it’s cured enough. Voila! Paper weight or some other ornament for the garden that the kiddos can paint.
- For most varieties of leaves, use the underside to press into the wet mold. The veining underneath is more defined & raised so the results will really “pop” on the finished product.
- Are the edges too rough for your liking? Smooth them out with a sanding block.
- If you live in an area with extreme winters, consider bringing them inside over the winter months to protect against cracking. Just wrap them in burlap and stack in a corner.
I found a great page packed with tips when crafting with concrete over at madebybarb.com, I’m sure you’ll find some good-to-know tidbits there.
Here are a handful of tutorials that show you how to craft these little treasures, the techniques are pretty similar but each project has a tip or two or something unique to offer so I’m including them all. Have fun!
Casting: A sand & concrete mix is made fairly liquid and then brushed on a large leaf with a paint brush. A layer of hardware mesh is added to help keep the form reinforced (mentions that drywall mesh tape can be used too).
Sand-cast Birdbath: This project makes a leaf form with a shallow depression to make it suitable for using as a birdbath. Add some color with paint or concrete dye (optional).
Bowl or Birdbath: This page has a couple ideas of using smaller specimans and arranging them to make bowls or birdbaths. (webarchive link since page is no longer on site).
Displaying lovely items in the garden doesn’t have to be expensive, see these creative containers from everyday household items, even moss can be used to add beauty to your yard.