Introduction: Make Unique Planters With Concrete

Picture of Make Unique Planters With Concrete

To fill a need and be creative at the same time, I decided to make my own planters and garden pieces from concrete mix that is very reasonable in cost, and is not that difficult to work with. I show several different planters-fountain-and simple forms to use in the garden as you see fit. 

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

For this project, I needed to make forms to pour my concrete mix into. So I needed: wood material for forms, concrete mix and tools to work it with, some styrofoam, some clear tubing used for drains, and inlet tubes for the fountain, a wheelbarrow to mix the concrete in and some water.

Step 2: Make Form

Picture of Make Form

Here, a form is made by cutting wood pieces to size, and then simply screwing them together when ready.

Step 3: Decorate Inner Walls of Form With Choice of Designs

Picture of Decorate Inner Walls of Form With Choice of Designs

I chose to use a lizard and kokopelli as my subjects for this project. I was looking for a "desert zen" theme, as I planned on using many succulents as my plant forms. These designs are cut out of styrofoam with the hotwire machine.  They are then glued into place on the inside of the form with regular white craft glue. 

Step 4: Assemble Form to Be Ready to Pour

Picture of Assemble Form to Be Ready to Pour

This is the assembly step...I have made a styrofoam core, and drilled holes to accept tubing for a fountain. If used as a planter, the holes will allow for drainage.  Looking down on the form after assembly, you can see the designs and "hole" glued into place.  I just use a simple white glue, and this is sufficient to hold them in place during the pour.

Step 5: Mix Concrete Per Directions on Bag

Picture of Mix Concrete Per Directions on Bag

Try to be as close to the manufacturer's recipe as possible.  Sometimes I want a little more fluid mix so will add slightly more water. I feel that this allows for better conformance to the shapes I want to achieve.  Tapping all over the poured form will allow trapped air to escape, surround the mold forms more perfectly, and settle the gravel in the mix appropriately. Concrete colorants can be added to achieve the brown, or terra cotta effect of one of the planters.

Step 6: Pour Concrete, Tamp and Jiggle to Settle In

Picture of Pour Concrete, Tamp and Jiggle to Settle In

It's hard to over-do this step, but it is important, again, to tamp and jiggle sufficiently to disperse the mix evenly and not end up with any air bubble "holes" and/or failures in the concrete to conform to the shapes inside the mold.

Step 7: Let Cure 48 Hrs...Then Remove Mold

Picture of Let Cure 48 Hrs...Then Remove Mold

Self explanatory, I have left them sit for 4 days or more...depending on what I feel is necessary at the time.  It's far better to let them cure longer than to open the mold and have edges crumble on you.

Step 8: Remove Styrofoam From Block

Picture of Remove Styrofoam From Block

Here you can see the cured planter/fountain fresh out of the mold.  Next, I need to remove all the styrofoam to achieve the final form. Just cut or dig out the foam with a screwdriver and or picking tool.

Step 9: Simple Blocks Made This Way

Picture of Simple Blocks Made This Way

These simple forms are used to display rocks in a "zen garden". This will be covered in a separate instructable. Here, the lizard is added on after the pour is completed.  So it is a three dimensional lizard on the block.

Step 10: Gallery

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Various shots of planters and forms made. I look forward to making other forms along this line, some with larger cavities in them for more, assorted succulents.

Comments

MaryB177 (author)2016-02-13

Hi Creativeman, I'm interested in making a big water trough with a planter next to it, contiguous. Would the concrete mix for the water trough be different than the planter?

You have a truly down to earth style and I love it.

Mary

Creativeman (author)MaryB1772016-02-13

Thanks for the nice words, Mary...I think the concrete mix would be the same for both the trough and the planter...I'd practice small before taking on a large project. Good luck!

skiedra (author)2011-08-30

Creativeman, where did you get the man & lizard images from?

I was working on another instructable and it's difficult to find a 2D image/cartoon that would look good when cut out.

Creativeman (author)skiedra2011-08-30

There is a plethora of images on the net (check clip art)....I think I drew the lizard, and you can either draw them from the screen images, or, cut and paste most of them....alot are copyrighted, but I don't sell these, so there is no issue I believe. Good luck, let me know how you do!

pattiemelt (author)Creativeman2014-06-28

You can also buy foam cutouts in all kinds of shapes at craft supply stores. Great 'ible!

Creativeman (author)pattiemelt2014-06-28

Thank you!

Ginger Magnus (author)2011-04-29

What a great idea! These are going on my list for sure!

I have been working on a concrete bar top and Im going to grind and polish it for a terrazzo look, the same procedure will work for these planters to give them another look.

yellowcatt (author)Ginger Magnus2013-08-08

If you were to make a fairly deep recessed pattern in the concrete bar top you could fill it with a contrasting colour concrete. that should look good when ground and polished. If you were making it for a business you could have the company name or logo in the bar top.

Thanks, GM...I hope you will post pictures of the polished look. That sounds like a great treatment. Any chance of seeing an instructable? You could polish my planters anytime!

You will have to bring them to West Texas, and provide the H20. Water is becoming a scarce commodity in the Permian Basin.

milesnorth (author)2013-08-06

cool stuff. Good job with the walk through. Thanks.

milesnorth (author)2012-06-28

Very Cool, Thanks for sharing. I have been wondering how to get the imprints into cement work. Looking forward to giving it a try! Very NICE!

mokee (author)2011-11-07

I have made planters using paper crete. You just mix in shredded newspaper with the concrete. It makes them not so heavy.

jfrancis-2 (author)2011-04-21

that is an awesome idea.. i really wanna try this

lyonpridej (author)2011-04-12

I LOVE these! My mom lives in the high-desert of AZ & has lots of real lizards(which she loves). I've been thinking of making her some concrete planters & these would be perfect with the lizards! Thanks! BTW-I have never tried it, but I've heard that instead of 'tapping' or 'jiggling' to settle the concrete, you can just hold a hand sander on the form & it will vibrate the bubbles to the surface.

Creativeman (author)lyonpridej2011-04-13

Thanks for your comments

pfred2 (author)2011-03-15

Do you oil your form before you pour it? Have you thought about making your designs out of silicone so you can reuse them? I think you need to do some more tapping to reduce the parging you're getting, unless you like it. Real nice though I like it.

Creativeman (author)pfred22011-03-16

Thanks...I do use oil, but may not have on these...not critical for this app. You're right about the tapping, but there is a limit, so it's difficult to decide exactly which point you stop. The silicone does look interesting, but for my purposes, not sure it would be worht the additional cost...I only need to make a few items for my garden, so it's no big issue just to cut the designs out of foam. it certainly is cost effective.

skiedra (author)2011-03-13

Creativeman, you are my new Instructables hero :D

Seriously, infinite simplicity leading to really awesome stuff. True Zen.

Creativeman (author)skiedra2011-03-13

Thanks for your comment.

Ninzerbean (author)2011-03-09

Are these about shoe-box size? Larger? They look really great. I used to make concrete things and started adding all sorts of peat, dirt, perlite etc. to make them lighter in weight. They were still really heavy though. Well done!

Creativeman (author)Ninzerbean2011-03-11

Thanks, Ninzerbean...you are very astute! Check out the picture. I've seen that, hypertufa, isn't it? Just never got too enthused about that art, although it does look cool.

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Bio: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.
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