Introduction: Make Unique Planters With Concrete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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