I decided to start fixing up the back yard this year, but I wanted to do something a little more creative than just a potted plant or two. So I went searching online to learn how to create faux stone floors and walls and tried to learn all the tips and tricks I could in a short time. I had the idea of creating a bench and adding a planter. I used a lot of items I already had that were just going to go into the garbage anyway, so I tried to recycle them.
First off, I bought some cement blocks and made a mini pillar. Dug into the ground a little so they wouldn't topple over easily. I cemented them together and let them dry, then I build a wooden bench to go across...this was basically a cheap wooden "shelf" that I doubled the wood so it wouldn't bend and would hold the weight of people sitting on it.
I learned on youtube of people using bottles to make faux stones so the bottle would take up most of the space and make them lighter. That's what i was going to do originally and make stones with the milk jugs, but I ended up not using them in this project. The pizza boxes and bags were used to "fill the space" under the cement so that I didn't need to buy so much cement. It's just there to give the general shape of what I wanted the pile of rocks to be. So then I mixed the cement and sand and starts slopping it on. This step takes time and patience and a LOT of cement mixing. There was no recipe for how much cement to use, so I just bought a few bags of portland cement and hoped it would do what I needed.
Ok, so start building up the pile of stones up the wall...the cement will slide if the mixture is too runny. If so, add more powder and less water. It should be like pancake batter. After the first layer is in the general shape of what I wanted, I then started hand forming the round stones also out of cement. This took awhile because there were a lot of stones to make. Shape each one by hand and then place it where you want on the wall. After you press it into the cement, try to blend the edges with your fingers so it looks like it is a part of the pile and was originally "grouted" into it. The goal is for it to look like a pile of rocks...not a cement pile.
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Step 1: Ok Onto Texture, Stain, and Paint.
Once the cement forming is done, I textured the rocks with plastic bags and tapping the edge of a paintbrush, fingers, tools and anything else I could find to give a stone texture into the cement. This has to be done BEFORE it dries, so make sure do add the details before walking away.
Leave the cement overnight and let it harden on it's own. While it was drying, I went on to staining the wood. I thought it'd be a good time, since I couldn't do anymore until the cement was finished. I stained the wood and also added polyurethane to protect it.
The next day, I began to paint the stones. Now, originally I was hand painting them all, layer after layer and it was taking forever to get to them all and make all the colors different. Natural stone has a bunch of shades and different tones and hues....but after awhile I thought I'd try some spray paint and ended up liking it better. I was originally wanting the fairytale kind of look anyway, so it was turning out better. Use darks first in all the cracks and crevices and then add lighter tones and build them up. At the end, I took an old dish sponge and watered down some paint and just added some final texture over top of the spray paint to give it more detail. Then i sealed the whole thing with cement sealer.
Step 2: On to the Planter....
The touring group I'm in had an old truck tire that was going to be thrown away, so I asked to have it. I dug it into the ground a bit so that it would look more "settled" and then started adding more cement over the edges. This time I used a bit more of a wet mixture because i knew I was going to need it to stick better and get better details in the "stone". On top, I wanted it to look like it was slate slabs sitting on a well or some sort of circular flower bed so I made the cement very thick on top. I'd say it's about 3 inches or so in some places. After waiting for it to settle a bit...maybe an hour or so, I started adding the texture into the cement. This can be whatever your brain wants it to be. I wanted the slate look so I studied the stone online and started carving out the lines and cracks with a knife and paving tools. For the deep dents, I used an actual rock and just pressed the corners of it into the cement. By doing that, it adds the real texture and it's less for you to have to create. After the texturing is done, let it sit again overnight or even longer depending on your mixture.
Step 3: Final Painting...
After all the cement is dried, you are ready to paint. This was the real fun part for me. Again, I started with black spray paint and sprayed all the crevices and cracks first. Then I started layering lots of shades of paint, both with spray paint and acrylics. The last steps were done by hand with a kitchen sponge and very watered down acrylic paint. Keep twisting the sponge in different directions so it doesn't look like a set/repeated pattern. You can also use the texture of the cement to your advantage and just glide across the tops of the stones and not get the lighter paint in the cracks...that way the darker colors stay showing in the cracks and the lighter shades are on the top.
Fill the tire with dirt and you've got a new planter. I still have some plants to buy yet, but you'll get the idea. Hope this inspires some of you to try your own at your place!!! :)
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