Picture of Easy to make concrete bowls and planters...

For a quick, fun and very easy garden project, grab a bag of concrete, your imagination, and follow me!

Concrete planters and garden ornamentation are a wonderful addition to the outdoor setting around one's home. Often, such decor comes with a high price, enormous size and incredible weight which is not easily transported. The solution? Make your own.

While you would likely not fare well to dive right into large scale concrete landscaping, you can dabble a bit in a smaller project to begin with. Then, when you find how addicting this craft is, take it easy on me for suggesting it. So let's get started.

Curious about the intro bowl? See step five for details.
Curious about the frog? He is a real. Hyla versicolor have the ability to change colors.

Found a typo? Please, by all means, let me know. :-) I appreciate it!

Is your reply positive and constructive? I'd love to hear it.
Please refrain from being nasty or negative. That is not the purpose of this site.

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Step 1: Gather your materials...

Picture of Gather your materials...

What you will need:


QUIKRETE® Concrete Mix (No. 1101) is the original 4000 psi average compressive strength blend of Portland cement, sand, and gravel or stone. Just add water. Use for any general concrete work. (Verbatim as posted on the Quikrete site) Resist the urge to use heavy duty concrete, as it is very chunky. For those familiar with mixing their own concrete instead of using a mix, by all means do so. We use Quikrete because it is available in our area and has proven to be of quality for the items I've made.

Though many home improvement stores carry ready-to-mix concrete in 80 pound bags, it is also available in other sizes, depending on your preference as well as ability to lug it around. Be sure to allow store employees to help load the larger bags into your car. There are many types of ready-to-mix available, choose accordingly. I prefer Quikrete (mainly because it is readily available in our area) and Quikrete Vinyl Concrete Patcher, but these products are mere suggestions. Nothing is cast in stone. Yet.

COLORING - Not a necessary item at all, though coloring concrete is quite fun, and easy! Check out liquid cement colors near the concrete section of your local hardware store. A 10 oz. bottle will color quite a bit of concrete. If you want to maintain color consistency in your projects, consider making up large bottles of colored water for your project, and be sure to keep a lid on the container of mixed water. Shake well before using. Don't get carried away by dumping in more colorant than recommended, or your concrete will not set properly.

MOLDS - An endless supply of molds, containers and other ideas are available everywhere. Scour yard sales, thrift stores and other thrifty places for interesting shapes and sizes. Don't stick to bowls, use your imagination. You could even make your own. Try not to choose anything with great detail, as you may be disappointed. For finer detail, use Vinyl Patch mix, which has far less bumps and bits of rock, or use a good cement and sand recipe.

Just about any container can be utilized as a mold for concrete, provided you are able to get the finished product out of it. Bowls, cups, milk cartons, jugs, the ideas are bountiful. At present, I've found much delight in selecting unique glass containers from second hand stores and yard sales. If the finished item cannot be dropped or dumped out of the mold, after the concrete has fully set up, simply (and gently) tap the glass to crack or break it from your concrete creation, then rinse off the glass and be sure to take it to the recycling center.

Plastic, stainless steel and other materials release from the cured concrete easily when non-stick spray is applied to the mold prior to adding concrete.

NON-STICK COOKING SPRAY - Yes, release agents are sold specifically for the purpose of mold release when using concrete, but quite frankly, a cheap can of non-stick cooking spray works just fine. Use it generously to ensure your project will slide out of the mold. I've used both generic and Pam brand cooking sprays with success. Thanks to the many wonderful Instructable folks who have also suggested using other agents such as WD40 and perhaps even motor oil.

WATER - Necessary to mix with the concrete. Not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little. Perhaps my 'luck' has been the love of making mud pies as a child. Think Goldilocks, and mix well.

RUBBER GLOVES - Nothing fancy needed, but you should wear them. Be safe, not sorry. Concrete poisoning is no fun, and it's not pretty. I know this from personal experience.

EMERGENCY MOLDS - So you've mixed a pristine batch of concrete, you've sprayed the mold and you're in the process of filling it. Whoops, not enough concrete! Quick, dump it out and reach for another mold. Keep one close by for this very reason, and don't forget to spray it first. It is better to make a bit more than to end up a bit short.

A POKER - You'll need something about the circumference of a pencil to poke out air bubbles.

A LARGE SPOON - Or any similar item to mix the concrete. My favorite? A skinny garden trowel. Keep your eyes off items in the utensil drawer of the kitchen unless you no longer wish to use it on food.

BUCKETS, MEASURING CUPS, MISCELLANEOUS 'TOOLS OF THE TRADE' - Obtain inexpensive tools and reserve them for concrete projects alone, as they will become tarnished with concrete. Don't be wasteful. Clean and re-use your tools.

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cjraabe12 days ago

Well written, folksy Instructable. It motivates me to get out the cement. But I'm commenting about Libby--beautiful cat and, obviously, typically needs to be part of the action.. Thanks for including this pic!

bobbie.larsen2 months ago

Okay then here's my deal. About3 years ago me and the husband made 6 birdbaths. as far as we got---Would like to embellish with marbles, colored bits of glass just like the good ole days. Do uou have a process for adding slurry to the outsides in order to smush the items into and then what to seal it all with?

Try latex tile mastic or thinset mortar (not as sticky as the latex). Concrete will not stick to concrete. Or my sister and I have used heavy duty glues to attach our mosaics. Grout the mosaic, then, if desired, seal with a silicone grout sealer.

Just a thought with the 30# oncrete sphere...could paint with glw in the dark paint for outdoor luminaries. ?
riwares2 months ago
Glad I've found your site. I've wanted a brutal looking concrete bowl for my grey green succulent plants. However they don't seem to exist but I can make it instead. Thanks for the inspiration.
MsheArt210 months ago

Very nice end result, that's a beautiful bowl!

WUVIE (author)  MsheArt22 months ago

Many thanks, MsheArt2. :-)

tr.jay.73 months ago

is it possible to use the ordinary glass cereal bowls? i cant find these in my country.

WUVIE (author)  tr.jay.72 months ago

Hello, oh, yes, you can actually get very creative by combining bowls, too. You might even visit a second-hand store, and play with various bowls, putting them inside one another, etc.

You might even consider using an adhesive to connect them so they form an inner bowl, then after they are dry, you could add concrete and proceed. You might still have to break the glass, depending on the shape of the glass.

I'm so sorry it took so long to respond, I've been rather inattentive of my messages lately.

Many thanks!


Love your cover picture of the bowl, and I wanted to make one similar. I've made a couple of hypertufa projects and one cement/sand bowl (that, surrpise, looks like cement), but I really want a bowl exactly like yours. So, I found a 'bubble bowl' but I can't find the concrete mix that you used. I can't even find it on the quickcrete website.

Do you have any idea what I should mix for the concrete? I have portland cement, but how much sand and how much gravel should I use? Any clue? I have one shot at it since I only have found one bubble bowl.

I just love how your bowl looks like it was made of stone.

the search engine is your friend -- here's at least one instruction:

Hieu Hieu9 months ago

And if you are too lazy to read through to the link -- 1 part portland cement, 2 part sand, 3 part 3/4-inch gravel. It's quite easy to remember 1,2,3. Have fun.

WUVIE (author)  Hieu3 months ago

LOL Hieu, many thanks for sharing that for Ariana. :-)

SACutter6 months ago

I do a little concrete moulding - to strengthen your concrete if you like delicate thin walls it may be an idea to add some fiber - a search on the net will indicate qty, depending on which fiber u use. You have heard of fiber boards - the fiber is added to stop hair cracking and add strength. Let us know what you think please

WUVIE (author)  SACutter3 months ago

Hello SACutter, thank you so much for your suggestion. As my bowls are rather small, I didn't use reinforcing fibers, but have since found some and will definitely give them a try in my next project.

xu.chensheng6 months ago

Hi! Your projects look fantastic and smooth! I have made a few planters and boxes out of concrete as well. However, bubbling has been the worst time of my making process. And you haven't even mentioned about bubbling or vibrating the molds. Do you find any small holes or as know as bug holes on the surface of your bowls? If so, how do you manage to fix that?

WUVIE (author)  xu.chensheng3 months ago

Hello Xu! Many thanks for your compliments. Yes, I, too, have bubbles, but I'm one of those people who look beyond imperfections to see the whole picture. :-) If you want to try making one that is far smoother, you might pound the surface of your worktable with a hammer or a mallet, short of a way to vibrate the table. You could also try using a palm sander to hold against a towel or other fabric item next to the project (if it is glass) and then turn on the sander, which will cause vibrations. Love your projects, great job. Love the one that looks like a brick!

These are great! How did you make the rectangular one in the third image? That is exactly what I am looking to make.

It was actually one of the very first projects, made out of an iPhone package box and some styrofoam. Easy and neat!

Ra1n5had0w4 months ago
This is inspiring. I hope I have the courage to actually make something.

You asked for spelling corrections: "Ver batum as posted on the Quikrete site" – I suspect you meant to write "Verbatim". Other than that, it all looks great.
WUVIE (author)  Ra1n5had0w3 months ago

(Thunks self in the head) I can't believe I didn't catch that, many thanks! It has been corrected. I appreciate your help. :-)

DanaA24 months ago

This is very cool, but other than the bowling ball or votive, how is the indention made for the bowl?

WUVIE (author)  DanaA24 months ago
Hi Dana, everything is explained in step 5. :-)
rlyndallwemm5 months ago

Nice bowls. Very clear instructions. The pictures help a lot.

For lighter bowls try using a cement + perlite + fiber mix. If you don't like the rough look of hypertufa then use a fine grade of perlite and substitute acrylic fiber or coconut fiber (coir) for the peat moss. You can get fine grades of perlite by contacting the Perlite Institute and finding a distributer in your area. You may need to sweet talk them into making a hobby sized bag for you as the commercial bags as huge.

SACutter6 months ago

I do a little concrete moulding - to strengthen your concrete if you like delicate thin walls it may be an idea to add some fiber - a search on the net will indicate qty, depending on which fiber u use. You have heard of fiber boards - the fiber is added to stop hair cracking and add strength. Let us know what you think please

SACutter6 months ago

I do a little concrete moulding - to strengthen your concrete if you like delicate thin walls it may be an idea to add some fiber - a search on the net will indicate qty, depending on which fiber u use. You have heard of fiber boards - the fiber is added to stop hair cracking and add strength. Let us know what you think please

Nevermind! I found the 1101 mix at Lowe's and today we filled 4 bubble bowls of varying sizes, having found those at Goodwill. I'm really hoping they turn out well but a little concerned we used too much water, as water was really pooling at the tops.

I'll share our finished bowls when they come out of the molds. Excited!

WUVIE (author)  Ariana Morris10 months ago

Ariana, such good news, what a great find, four bowls, whoo hoo! I have the same issue with the pooling water, I just keep gently sponging it off. Would love to see your bowls. :-)

houndog2g10 months ago

I love the ideas here!! I've molded concrete stepping stones, benches, birdbaths etc and have never done any kind of water bath for curing. I've never had a problem with cracking or crumbling.

DIYDragon1 year ago

ohhh nice. Now I need to find something suitable as a mould to make some big planters for my backyard. :-)

Tetrafish1 year ago

I had been wondering if something like this could be used like a mortar & pestle. Preferably something to keep outside (since it's heavy anyway) and to crush up egg shells to use in my raised garden beds for insect control (& here I find it :-). I think I'd use a larger bowl (like with the bowling ball) for the mortar, and a smaller globe for the pestle.

WUVIE (author)  Tetrafish1 year ago

Hmm. At first, I thought this was not such a great idea, but I was thinking about food consumption, with bits of concrete in the food, which is likely what would happen.

If you use one to grind eggshells for a garden, perhaps that would not be so bad, provided you were more or less tapping the shells into crushed form and not necessarily grinding then against the concrete. Sounds neat, though, I'd love to see a picture if you end up making one, and an update with regard to the eggshell crushing. Neat!

Homemomma1 year ago
What a fantastic Instructable! Thank you for sharing it with us. Heading out later today in search of molds, muahaha!
WUVIE (author)  Homemomma1 year ago

Looking forward to hearing good news from you. Hope you had fun and made a few great bowls. Loved your muahaha. :-)

hohum1 year ago
love the cat
WUVIE (author)  hohum1 year ago

LOL. She's all yours if you can put up with her attitude. :-)

awalters141 year ago

Im interested in making a bird bath. I like the bowl with the flower indention. I get that you use snack or vegy tray * the green thing in top picture* but im confused on how it would be put together with the cement to make the design. Can anyone explain? or possibly have a picture of the process to make designs in the dip of the cement bowl?

WUVIE (author)  awalters141 year ago

Hello A. Walters,

In step 7, it is mentioned that a glass votive was used to make the indentation for the flower in a small bowl, not a snack tray. :-) They are small glass trays usually about the size of a dinner saucer, squished into the concrete, then removed later, though it could also be left in the concrete to stay there.


I like this instructable, however as someone who has experience building ponds I have to warn you not to place new concrete into ponds with live plants or animals. The lye that dissolves into the water can kill them. That's why concrete ponds are usually coated with liquid rubber, or filled with water, let sit for a week, drained and refilled a half dozen times to ensure the lye is diluted out. Cure it in plain water. Of course, small structures in a large volume of water may have no effect on livestock, but I wouldn't chance it.

timbit19851 year ago

Wow cool! I think you could make a really cool water feature with that sphere. Force a small circular water vase done the center of the sphere after you fill it, so you have a void for a submersible water pump. Use one of your bowling ball vases as a resevoir and you have a fancy water feature!!

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