• How to make an easy stepping stone

    by  • October 21, 2011 • How to: Easy project ideas, Hypertufa or cement projects •  Comments

    Making a stepping stone from a plastic nursery flat

    My crafty friend, Cheryl, and I have been at it again! We had a brainstorm!  This stepping stone can be made in a snap using Ready-mix concrete and a plastic flat used by nurseries to hold ground covers. You can even reuse the mold to make more than one!

    How many of us have a stash of these plastic flats with the built in pattern?

    How many of us have a stash of these plastic flats with the built in pattern?

    Materials:

    • A ground cover nursery flat
    • A dry cleaning bag
    • Concrete
    • A large leaf or leaves with thick veins
    • Old or disposable gloves
    • Large galvanized pan or plastic tub

    Steps

    1. Lay down a tarp over your work surface. Lay your leaf or leaves upside down in a design onto the bottom of the flat.
    2. Cover the plastic flat and the decorations with one thin layer of the dry cleaning bag. This makes it easy to unmold. Leave the edges wide enough to fold up over the project.
    3. Mix your concrete in the tub with enough water to make the consistency like thick brownie batter. Spread or pack carefully into the mold, patting it down with gloved hands.
    4. Fold the plastic over the entire project and tuck underneath to hold in the moisture and not blow in the wind.
    5. Unmold after a day or two, discard leaves and let it sit in its plastic for about a week to cure. Prepare a flat place on firm dirt or sand to place your stepping stone
    6. Repeat!
    I placed this one at an intersection in the path that gets a lot of traffic

    I placed this one at an intersection in the path that gets a lot of traffic

    Note: For added strength, you can spread half the cement mix in then lay down old metal coat hangers or a square of chicken wire.

    You can also decorate the stone by packing the concrete in, then pushing stones or glass beads into the flat surface. Dry and cure the same way. The stepping stones come out in a nice big size and just the right thickness! Set them down in a square pattern or diagonally like diamonds.

    More garden stepping stones

    Jill Waltenspiel's step stone

    Jill Waltenspiel’s step stone

    Jill Waltenspiel has another slick way to make stepping stones.  Here’s her scrap Glass and concrete stepping stone:
    “My husband made me round, rectangle, shoe shaped and kind of square metal molds. They hold together with clamps & when the concrete is set up, I take off the clamps and they come apart. I do spray with Pam or coat with Vaseline. I use contact paper underneath to hold the glass in place while the cement is being poured. Then, just peel off the paper.”

    “I use Portland Cement for my stepping stones, mixed just as you would for any concrete pour. And, yes I set them on a very flat surface, a table or something of that sort. With the glass – or flat craft gems – stuck to the contact paper, you don’t get as much mix on them. I often have to do some clean up when the liquid oozes under the glass, but it can be done fairly easily with an orange stick, either wood or plastic. Metal can scratch the glass.”

    Becky Norris made several concrete stepping stones for her Big Patio Project! This is a fabulous story of how you can accomplish a challenging patio project, with limited help and at any age and ability! Here’s a couple photos as a preview:

    The lily was made with clear glass that I reverse painted on the back with enamels which you bake in the oven.

    “The lily was made with clear glass that I reverse painted on the back with enamels which you bake in the oven,” says, Becky Norris.

     

    This is one of the pavers that I molded yesterday and removed front he mold this morning. I molded four more pavers today measuring 16 inches by 16 inches.

    Becky: “This is one of the pavers that I molded yesterday and removed front he mold this morning. I molded four more pavers today measuring 16 inches by 16 inches.”

     

    I hope you try one of these easy projects.  Have fun!  ~~ Sue

    More:

    Make your own concrete planters

    Leaf-casting a rhubarb leaf

    12 Unique hypertufa projects for the garden

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    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    Comments

    1. Karen C says:

      A great idea! But I will have to get several flats so the cement I use can all be used and not wasted. I will have to line them all up ready to go and then go for it quickly.

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Karen, a nursery would gladly give you a few. We used hypertufa mix and used gloved hands to mix just enough, but it took some practice to see how much to mix.

    2. DonnaJ says:

      Great idea! I like the option of using the stone or glass beads!

    3. judy says:

      i do like these. i tried some on leafs, one caution is, too much water or too little mixing will work at first but crumble later. i wonder if there are any ideas around mixing if you aren’t super strong! would like to make many but fizzle out quickly.

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Hi Judy, use the chicken wire square embedded in the stepping stone to make them extra strong. :-) Sue

      2. Shari Allen says:

        You can buy a drill (I think 1 HP) that is made to mix grout and cement. You buy a big paddle that fits in the place you put bits and “stir” away. The thick mixture will ruin a regular cordless drill. I think the one I bought was around $50 at Harbour Freight.

        1. Sue Langley says:

          Shari, with hypertufa mix, we just used our gloved hands, but with cement, it might be rougher on hands. A paddle of some sort would work and remember you’re using very little dry mix and water. We just used a big plastic tub like you use for picnic drinks and ice.

      3. Kathleen says:

        You can mix the cement in a wheelbarrow with a hoe…very simple and doesn’t require much strength.

        1. Sue Langley says:

          That’s true. It would be nice to have one person mixing and filling the molds and one to decorate them,….maybe TWO to decorate!

    4. debrasweeps says:

      I love your “recipe” for making these; I’m looking forward to trying it. I also picked-up your article for my magazine, Gardening Life [http://bit.ly/IIl5Ww] – hope you won’t mind a little more exposure (not that you need it!). ~Debra

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Debra, thanks for letting me know….you’re welcome to it.

    5. Noreen says:

      Was wondering do you have to press the beads or stones down through the first layer of concrete? Not sure what the directions mean. Do you turn if over and put the beads in? Thanks for any info.

      1. Sue Langley says:

        Noreen, my beads got engulfed by the mixture and did not show up. Next time, I would press them in from the top. In other words, pour in the cement, pat it down then add the decorations. The leaf worked fine though!

    6. Reblogged this on Three Pea Homestead and commented:
      For those of you who liked my “buy it, or make it?” post, I think you’ll like this blog that I just stumbled across.

    7. Jeanne Sammmons says:

      My DHubby & I buy hand mixer ‘beaters’ at garage sales (a couple of them on hand, anyway) & he uses his electric drill to mix small amounts of cement when we make ‘mushrooms!
      This is such a clever idea using the plastic flat! Fun!

    8. kathy says:

      DEET – find a good insect repellent with at least 25% DEET and spray your socks/pants/shoes/hat. Then inspect yourself closely to find any interlopers. Laundering your cloths will NOT kill ticks, but a good HOT dry tumble in the dryer will. I live in Minnesota and typically refer to this publication from the UMN. I am sure that the information included on this publication is applicable in most of the US.
      http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/M1275.html

    9. aaron says:

      great idea — and simple at that

    10. Hi there – love your hypertufa projects, I had a look at your other ones too! I’ve got this post linked to my hyfertufa roundup – come on over and take a peek!

    11. Jeanne Sammons says:

      Looks like you both had a great time! Fun project! TFS the instructions! Great brainstormin’!