Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Easy to Make Concrete Planters

I'm always falling in love with new materials. One day it's paper and paper crafts, the next week I'm thinking up a hundred and one things to do with white sugar; I've gone through full affairs with cotton, yarn, wood, tin, latex paint, and even plants. I know it sounds funny, but that's the fun part of being a blogger, I don't have to stick to one thing! (And I won't). I often find myself at a large hardware store mooning over some piece of really smooth finished plywood, just thinking to myself, 'what could I use you for?'. Same thing happens at yard sales and junk shops, and Chris knows that we WILL be stopping the car if there is a 'good' piece of garbage on someone's curb.

This month my wandering eye has settled on concrete. Concrete is the mixture of cement with additives such as gravel, sand, pebbles and rocks. So for anyone out there who thought that concrete and cement were interchangeable (me!), it turns out that cement is just one ingredient in the concrete recipe. 

When you add water to the dry concrete mix it creates a viscous pourable substance that you can pour into a mold in order create and build all kinds of things. Once set (dry), the concrete has the most wonderful surface, it's pebbled and porous and oh-so-smooth. When wet it is greeny grey in colour; but bone dry it's a soft dove grey, almost a dusty white. I love it for it's natural and minimal look. A concrete vessel can be placed in almost any home. It fits in everywhere and with most every look- from farmhouse chic to clean city cool. Here's how to make a concrete planter:
The first step is to decide what shape you'd like your planter to be. Then you need to find two disposable containers that fit together with enough space between them to form the sides of your planter. Don't think that you need both containers to be the same shape! A mini yogurt cup could be the plant hole in a milk cartoon shaped planter.

You probably don't want to use any container that is made of metal, glass or very hard plastic because the removal (from the concrete) will be very difficult. You can use glass if you're prepared to break it off when the concrete has set, but metal will likely stick with your planter for life! Cardboard, styrofoam, and cheap plastics (like dollar store items or food containers) work best.

Rub Vaseline onto any surface area that will touch the concrete. (Outside of the small container, inside of the large one).

Time to mix the concrete! In a disposable box or bucket, mix dry concrete with water and stir until you get a smooth, pourable consistency. I didn't worry at all about following the package guidelines. I found that I added much more water then recommended, probably because I was attempting to make pretty planters and not a durable sidewalk. 

I used a concrete called Quikcrete, it was about $3 for a 5lb bag and you can purchase it at Home Depot or Canadian Tire.

 Pour the mixed concrete into the larger of the two containers.

Put the smaller container into the larger one and use weights to help it sit low in the the wet concrete. (If at this point you see that you haven't poured enough concrete to get the planter height that you want, just take the small container out and add more wet mix before putting it back in). Leave concrete to set.

At this point you may choose to remove the air bubbles in your concrete. To do this, tap the outer container with a hammer, go all over it's surface a few times, tapping lightly and adding more force for larger projects. I chose not to remove the air bubbles. I like the texture that they lend to the smooth concrete surface.

It takes about 24 - 36 hours for the concrete mix to set (dry). But once it is set, you can easily remove the small container and then set to work peeling away whatever it is that you used for the larger container.

It just looks so cool! Like some understated art piece that you'd see in a rad minimalist loft apartment! And yet it's just a pot!  Ok, be cool, Shayda.  Be cool.

Concrete is definitely my new favourite material!

Easiest and funnest step- add plant! I love the way this lime green club moss looks with the concrete.

I also created a shallow rectangular planter that was just perfect for succulents. Here's how to create a little tabletop 'succulent scene' in a couple super easy steps:

Lay some stones for drainage, add plants and potting soil, finish with pebbles and moss. I may have gone in for a few too many pebbles...

There, that's better! All done! I decided to leave out the moss in favour of showing off the simple cream coloured pebbles.

It looks great indoors or out in the garden! 

This is one of those super-duper easy projects that is hard to screw up!
I hope you'll give it a try. Thanks for reading!


  1. Ckncrete is a material I know much about, but have never used creatively. You motivate me to make that change.

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