Like yard decor that's a little different? How about making yourself some concrete mushrooms? They're inexpensive and easy!
WARNINGS: As with any project, you will need to take proper precautions. Read the safety instructions on the products and follow them. Quikrete can be rough on your hands, so be sure to wear gloves when working with it. Wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated area to avoid breathing in concrete dust or PAM spray. Wash your hands thoroughly when you've finished working.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
BOWLS for mushroom tops, sizes that appeal to you. Get a bowl with a nicely rounded (not flat) bottom interior. You can use any bowl that appeals to you esthetically. One of my bowls was plastic and the other was ceramic. I bought them at Goodwill very inexpensively. I wouldn't use a bowl that I plan to use for food later.
TUBE OR VASE for stem. (I used a Pasta Express tube..the kind sold on TV to quick-cook pasta, but you could use a vase or a paper tube. I cut the bottom off the Pasta Express so both ends were open).
PAM VEGETABLE SPRAY
1 bag QUICKRETE (1 made all 4 mushrooms with one 60 pound bag, but you will need less or more depending on the size of your mushrooms.) Available at home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot.
WATER (enough to mix into concrete).
MIXING SPOON strong enough to mix concrete
PLASTIC TUB to mix concrete in
PIECE OF PVC PIPE longer than your stem tube. (Available at home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot) Cut one end at an angle.
LANDSCAPE BLOCK ADHESIVE with CAULKING GUN -- (Available at home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot) comes in a tube like caulking.
ACRYLIC PAINTS -- The kind sold in 2 oz. bottles at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's. (example: Creamcoat or Americana)
SEALANT -- I used Daichcoat sealer, but you can use your choice of sealer. Consider whether you want a flat finish, medium gloss or high gloss to your finished mushroom.
Step 2: Mixing Concrete
Pour some Quikrete in the plastic tub and add enough water to thoroughly wet the concrete. Mix the concrete, adding more water if necessary until it's thoroughly moistened and about the consistency of muffin batter. Be sure to stir the dry concrete from the bottom and the corners of the tub so all the mix is completely wet.
THIS PHOTO does not look accurate! It has not been mixed, therefore, looks like more water than you will need. To see what the concrete looks like when it is mixed properly, see step 4. You can add the water a bit at a time so you don't put in too much.
Step 3: Spray Molds
Spray the inside of your bowls and tubes heavily with PAM spray to keep the molds from sticking to the concrete as it dries.
Step 4: Filling Your Molds
Put concrete into molds...I used my mixing spoon to spoon concrete into the molds. When molds are filled, tap the concrete to remove bubbles.
Step 5: Once Molded...
Push the PVC pipe into the concrete-filled tubes. If you want your finished mushrooms to be tilted, put the PVC pipe in at a slight angle.
While wearing latex or rubber gloves, round the edges of the concrete in the bowls with your fingers to give your mushroom edge a smoother shape.
Let the concrete sit in the molds for 24 hours. DON'T rush this step as the concrete takes that long to properly set. If you take it out too soon, the concrete will be crumbly.
Times given are approximate. Weather, temperature and size of mushroom top will affect the drying time. If it's cold or damp or if your mushroom is really big, it will take longer to dry.
Step 6: Remove the Molds
After mushrooms have sat 24 hours (or longer if necessary), turn the bowls over allowing the concrete mushroom top to come out of the bowl. Push the mushroom stem out of the tube. If you have sufficiently sprayed your molds, the concrete should slip right out.
Leave the concrete sit for another 24 hours to dry thoroughly.
Step 7: Painting Your Mushroom
When concrete is thoroughly dry, paint base coat onto mushroom top and stem. When the base coat is dry, use a brush or sponge to add a shadow of a darker color around the mushroom top and streak it onto the stem. Dab on a (third) lighter color accent until you like the way it looks.
I used Americana Acrylic paint
BASE COAT: Cocoa
SHADOW: Burnt Sienna
THIRD COLOR: Celery Green
Don't stress over the paint job...you're just looking to add a little dimension.
Step 8: Attaching Stem to Mushroom
Use LANDSCAPE BLOCK ADHESIVE to glue the stem to the Mushroom top.
Step 9: Attaching Top to Stem
Using a caulking gun, squeeze the LANDSCAPE BLOCK ADHESIVE onto the top of the mushroom stem.
Step 10: Completing the Mushroom
Lay the Mushroom top onto the tube. Allow the LANDSCAPE BLOCK ADHESIVE at least 24 hours to set before moving your mushroom.
Remember that concrete can be heavy! Lift the mushroom from the stem, not the top and have a solid grip on the whole mushroom before lifting it so nothing falls!
Step 11: Double Check
Be sure you have enough LANDSCAPE BLOCK ADHESIVE to hold the two parts together. If a bit squeezes out between the top and stem of the mushroom, that's OK. Once it's dry, you can paint it to match your mushroom if you want.
Step 12: "Plant" Your Mushroom
Push the PVC pipe into the soil to keep your mushroom from tipping over. That's all there is to it!