Leaf Imprint Stepping Stones
This Weekend Project preserves the garden into decorative stepping stones. You don’t have to work hard for a whole weekend to do it though! It’s a simple project that is quick and fun to do, but the concrete needs some time to cure after the stones are poured. These stepping stones are an economical way to make a personalized pathway or to add to your landscape as a decorative feature.
As pretty as they are, let’s not ignore their importance: giving the gardener a place to set foot that protects the plants. You thought they were there for your boots? Nope, stepping stones are layed to prevent the soil compaction that results from tromping through the garden beds. It’s particularly good practice not to walk on wet garden soil as it can destroy the structure of your soil, reducing plant root’s ability to retrieve water and nutrients.
- Square plastic containers
- Vegetable oil
- Foam brush
- Repair concrete
- Wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing concrete
- Rubber gloves
- Small rocks
- Choose containers that will make a good size for a stepping stone. For round stones, use plastic plant trays. For square or rectangular stones, use plastic food storage containers. The ones I choose had a relatively straight sides so they would result in straight-sided stepping stones.
- Choose leaves with interesting shapes, strong veins, and defined edges. Shown here are (clockwise from top) are Lady’s Mantle, Hosta, and Japanese maple leaves. The maple leaves pointed edges made their shape less successful than the other two (see final photos), and this will influence my choice of leaves in the future.
- Use the foam brush to spread vegetable oil around the inside of the form and on the vein side of the leaf.
- Mix repair concrete (concrete without large pieces of gravel) as per the instructions on the bag using the wheelbarrow, trowel, and rubber gloves. Pour the concrete into the moulds and press the leaves, vein-side down, onto the concrete. Be sure to press each leaf evenly with the flat part of your fingers so that the whole leaf imprints (not just where you touched with your fingertips!).
- Weigh the leaves down with rocks or stones and allow to set for 24 hours. Cure as per the instructions on the concrete package and then unmould and place around the garden.
This is an update from the very first Weekend Project I wrote about in October 2011, which was a book review on Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More. One of the projects I tried from that book was leaf imprint stepping stones. I showed the photos back then but not the full instructions.
I was also lucky enough to work with a creative friend that day, which is a good thing because concrete can get heavy! My friend made some stepping stones with leaves and foam letters we bought at the craft store. Isn’t it fun to work with others? You get so many great ideas! her letter/leaf stepping stones turned out perfectly!