How to Make Concrete Tree Rings

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Introduction: How to Make Concrete Tree Rings

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

Why make "tree rings"? you ask.  As part of a landscape, a tree is a very special plant and to give it a more formal air and enhance it's place in the garden, a tree ring adds that touch of formality and "class" to the scene.  In addition, with this method, I am able to "label" the ring, or add personal touches and or tree names.  It's a fun project and I plan on making at least a few more for other trees I have or will obtain. 

Step 1: Make Circle Template From Cardboard

To make the ring, we need a form in which to pour the concrete.  I decided a three foot or 36" ring would be adequate for my small trees so started by making a 36" circle out of cardboard.

Step 2: Use Template to Make Pattern for Forms

The circle is divided into 6 equal parts so that there will be 6 blocks or pieces of concrete surrounding the tree.  Consult any geometry book or go on line and look up how to dissect the circle into 6 equal or almost equal parts. The pattern is one of these 6 equal sections.  This can be traced, or when laying out the circle, use your circle drawing tools to mark a separate piece of cardboard.  I wanted to make the segments 4.5 inches wide, so simply drew an inner circle 4.5 inches shorter than the large template.

Step 3: Cut Pattern and Use to Mark Wood

The pattern is then placed on a piece of 2 x 8" lumber, centered between the edges and the pattern to cut is marked.  Leave several inches on each end so that the ends when cut off can be used as end caps for the concrete form.

Step 4: Cut Form Out With Bandsaw

The first step here is to cut the angle of both ends. I use the cut off miter saw for this step. The form is now cut on the band saw as shown.

Step 5: Make a Base for Form

What we end up with is the basic form of 4 pieces of wood that will have a  base, or bottom,  attached with drywall screws.

Step 6: Add Trim Pieces or Embellishments

I wanted to give the segments some character, so made pieces of trim as shown...these are cut from soft pine lumber, marked with the same pattern, cut on the band saw and then attached with brads and glue.  After drying, I took a disc sander and tapered the trim pieces down towards  the center of the form.  Now we are ready to assemble the form.

Step 7: Screw Pieces to Base to Make Form

The base is attached with screws and basically the form is done.  I have three different forms in total, so all pictures are not entirely representative through all stages. 

Step 8: Oil Form Before Pouring Concrete Mix

Here, the ready form is oiled with a coating of vegetable oil, and  I have lined this form with a piece of plastic from a shopping bag.  Cut out with the aid of the pattern, then glued into place with spray adhesive.  I was using old plywood for the base, and it tended to leave residue on some castings.  Hopefully, the plastic will prevent this.

Step 9: Personalize or Decorate the Form

Here, I have cut out some letters of eps foam  on my hotwire machine. For a complete tutorial on making letters from eps (styrofoam) go to www.instructables.com/id/Hotwire-magic-The-Art/ .  This picture shows the name of the plum tree: Prunus ceracifera.  The other pictures show another possibility:  make the message a memorial note.  A good way to remember someone or a pet, perhaps, is to plant a living memorial such as a tree, and placed their name on the tree ring.  These should last for a very long time.

Step 10: Mix Concrete, Add to Form

Here, one segment has been filled and is actually ready to be removed.  I found that using bagged ready mix (I buy the 60lb. bags.) it takes 5, 14.5oz. cans of mix and about 2cups of water for each segment.  Try not to make the mix too soupy, rather have it be a stiff mix.  Then jiggle form in two directions, and tap on sides and bottom with a rubber mallet to shake loose any air bubbles.  Then let sit for at least 24 hrs.

Step 11: Place Ring Around Tree

The final step is to place ring around tree.  I think it adds a lot to the appearance of the garden and sets the tree off very nicely.  Thanks for reading my instructable.

Step 12: Another Ring Completed! (Update)

Completed a second tree ring as shown. Thought I would share that with the community as well.

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    23 Discussions

    0
    ShelleyE3
    ShelleyE3

    Question 3 months ago

    I used veggie oil in 3 layers and the concrete is still stuck in the form! I used a mallet to carefully try to release it and it cracked (been drying for 24 hours). Any suggestions how to get it to release? If I try again, what about using Tuck tape inside the form?

    0
    Creativeman
    Creativeman

    Answer 3 months ago

    I didn't have this problem so not sure what you did?? Sides should be removable...you mean duct tape? I wouldn't use that. Later on I made sides with cardboard. This can be lined with packing tape or plastic from bags...good luck.

    0
    ShelleyE3
    ShelleyE3

    Reply 3 months ago

    Tuck tape is used a lot in resin molds and is a release tape....shiny. But I read that painting varnish in the mold helps. Also, there is a release spray for concrete. I have options. Not sure why the oil didn't work. But thank you for getting back to me.

    0
    citronlady
    citronlady

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Could you make it the rings deeper if you need to raise the area to add soil?

    0
    bigloaf
    bigloaf

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi C Man, Say, I think you made a small error when you describe making the template 41/2" wide. To get a 41/2" wide block you need to make the inner circle 9" in diameter smaller not 41/2" as you described.
    Great project. I'll be make beucop of these for all my landscape trees. I hate the thin junky edging you find everywere.

    0
    Mister DO
    Mister DO

    8 years ago on Step 11

    If you spray adhere the styrofoam letters backwards to the bottom of the mold, you'll end up with a nice negative.

    0
    ax89
    ax89

    10 years ago on Introduction

    That looks very nice, and the permanent label is a very classy touch.  Did you connect the segments in any way?

    0
    Creativeman
    Creativeman

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your comment.  As of now, I have not connected them, but may make a poured concrete base, much like a curb, then mortar the segments in place. That would require much more effort, but would be worthwhile in a formal, landscaped, public space such as an arboretum or park. Cman

    0
    johnny3h
    johnny3h

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I'm concerned that making a solid, unbroken "curb" or base may end up either being damaged by growth of the tree, or cause damage to the tree and /or its roots as the tree grows.

    Of course, this point is moot, IF the size of the ring designed for the maximum size of the tree at maturity.

    0
    mouse23
    mouse23

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Consider neutralizing the alkali from the ring leaching into the soil.

    0
    ChrysN
    ChrysN

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, adding the lettering is really cool!

    0
    ktkeith
    ktkeith

    10 years ago on Step 11

    Nicely done. Just one question: how do you highlight the lettering in the personalized forms? It looks like you filled them with some sort of dark material - is that it? Or did you just paint the molded-in letters?

    Thanks. Good job!

    0
    rhino
    rhino

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Don't you have to reverse the letters in the mould for them to come out correctly?

    0
    tacamaral
    tacamaral

    10 years ago on Step 1

    Wow, really nice. I wish I had a garden to make some of these.