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. 
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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.
skiedra3 years ago
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)  skiedra3 years ago
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!

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

Creativeman (author)  pattiemelt1 year ago

Thank you!

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.
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.
Creativeman (author)  Ginger Magnus4 years ago
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.
milesnorth1 year ago
cool stuff. Good job with the walk through. Thanks.
milesnorth3 years ago
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!
mokee3 years ago
I have made planters using paper crete. You just mix in shredded newspaper with the concrete. It makes them not so heavy.
jfrancis-24 years ago
that is an awesome idea.. i really wanna try this
lyonpridej4 years ago
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)  lyonpridej4 years ago
Thanks for your comments
pfred24 years ago
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)  pfred24 years ago
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.
skiedra4 years ago
Creativeman, you are my new Instructables hero :D

Seriously, infinite simplicity leading to really awesome stuff. True Zen.
Creativeman (author)  skiedra4 years ago
Thanks for your comment.
Ninzerbean4 years ago
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)  Ninzerbean4 years ago
Thanks, 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.