Modern Concrete Planters

Concrete Garden Projects Planters & Stepping Stones

Not long ago I saw some very cool, modern concrete planters that I added to my DIY To Do List.  Not long afterwards the lovely folks over at Timber Press sent me a copy of Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More to review so when I had a crafty friend stop by for a visit + a sunny afternoon, I needed no more hints to dig into some projects.

Modern Concrete Planters

The projects in the book are great starting points for concrete projects that will suit many different garden styles.  In addition to modern planters we made some leaf print stepping stones: some in moulds with pressed leaves and one where we used a giant hydrangea leaf as the mould. 

Leaf Imprint Concrete Stepping Stones

The authors, Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson, layed out each project in six simple steps which were easy to follow, especially easy given each step has a beautiful photograph.  The best part was the ease and speed at which you can create concrete projects; we had seven planters and seven stepping stones curing within an hour of arriving home with the materials.

modern concrete planters

For the planters, we used a variety of different sized plastic tubs that we collected.  I filled my three square tubs with concrete and used round tubs and cups for the holes. I then filled the some of the larger hole-spacers with concrete and a small cup so each would produce yet another planter.

 Modern Concrete Planters

 I particularly loved how this one square planter turned out when planted with sedum.

 Concrete Garden Planter with Sedum

The stepping stones were also formed in plastic tubs, but larger, shallower ones.  We pressed interesting leaves found around the garden (lady’s mantle, Japanese maple, and hosta) and weighted them with small stones.  When un-moulded, they have depressions that will hopefully fill with little pools of water or perhaps moss.

 Hosta Imprint Concrete Stepping Stone

Near the end, we took the left over concrete and piled it in a mound on top of a giant hosta leaf.  When nestled into the shade garden it is right at home with the hosta who donated a leaf for the mould.

Concrete Stepping Stone Hosta Leaf

It was so surprisingly easy to make stepping stones that I’m happy to say that my days of hunting for rocks in rivers and back alleys might just be over (insert grinning husband here).   I would certainly recommend the book to anyone looking for a fun and creative way to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden.


About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Genevieve
    GenevieveOctober 10,11

    Awesome, Stevie! I love DIY projects! Just featured you in my Monday Miscellany post. I loved your canning labels, too – have definitely bookmarked them for future use.

  2. Debbie
    DebbieOctober 15,11

    These are such a great idea – inspired!!

  3. Liz
    LizOctober 16,11

    What about drainage for plants?

    • Stevie
      StevieOctober 16,11

      Hi Liz, great question. You could drill a hole after they are cured, set a plastic straw in the bottom when setting up the mould, or size the opening for a plastic pot to set in. I choose none of those options purposely as I wanted to use them indoors or out and didn’t feel I needed drainage. I planted them with drought tolerant sedum and they sit under cover, so for me, they work just fine to water every once and a while when I’m out in the garden.

  4. kathy bowers
    kathy bowersMarch 26,12

    do you use something as a release agent. i cant get my center out.

    • Stevie
      StevieMarch 27,12

      Hi Kathy, I brushed the entire mould with oil so they popped out pretty well. In a few places where it stuck a bit, I just gave it a few good womps with the heel of my hand until it came out.


  5. narf7
    narf7April 1,12

    Really attractive! As an old Australian colloquialism goes “you could have knocked me over with a feather” when I looked at this project. Much MUCH nicer than I could have imagined and something that my poor long suffering husband is going to take great delight in assisting me with. No more long trips to the beach to pilfer rocks and suffer the green lamentations of his wife (along the lines of Homer Simpson eating his pet lobster Pinchy…) as she stuck them into her plant pots whilst feeling incredibly guilty and delighted at the same time. Cheers for this, I am enthused and invigorated by the idea of being able to use concrete (ugly) and make these planters and faux stones (lovely). I do believe this site is almost to the point of being subscribed to…

  6. guild-rez - Canada
    guild-rez - CanadaApril 5,12

    I have purchased the book.
    Weather permitting I am starting with my first projects after Easter.
    For drainage in the bottom I will be using wine bottle corks. Let’s see how this works.

  7. Cyndi
    CyndiApril 17,12

    Any thoughts on how to make some concrete orbs? Would like some the size of a gazing ball to tuck here and there in the garden. They would be so pretty with moss or snow on them.

  8. Mary Lou
    Mary LouMay 21,12

    I made this project this weekend. A couple of comments. It worked out pretty well but i worked on it near the hose which is on my beautiful brick patio. When I poured the bag of concert mix into the big bin I was using to mix so much dust flew up that it got on the patio and stayed there when I hosed it off. I was afraid to ruin the lawn. Do you think I could work on this on my lawn without ruining that too?

    I thought the cemment came out a bit too white. Could I put something additional into the quick mix?
    and last I have been searching high and low for the fluted silicone cake pan in the book and can not find it. Any ideas? thanks for posting this, it is nice to see what other have done.

  9. Stevie
    StevieMay 21,12

    Hi Mary Lou. Here are some answers for you:

    1. I wouldn’t do the concrete mixing on the grass. I suggest you put a tarp or drop cloth down on your bricks, or use a wheelbarrow. It will hose off just fine if you are sure to do it as soon as you finish.

    2. There are cement colorants you can buy. Here is a charcoal one:, here is terra cotta

    3. Here is a silicone cake pan:; here is a non-stick one:

  10. Mary Lou
    Mary LouMay 22,12

    Thanks for your comments Stevie. The links to the fluted pans you suggested have centers in them. I was looking for the one shown in the book which is more like a large cupcake pan. If anyone could provide a link to that one, I would be delighted. Stevie, have you heard of anyone adding vermiculite to the cement mix? Seems like alot of fun variations to this project. thanks again

  11. Jana
    JanaJune 26,12

    These look fantastic! I’ve been wanting to make some for sometime, maybe I just get to it soon.
    I really like the square one with the offset round in it, that’s my favorite.

  12. 9,13

    I really Believe blog post, “Concrete Garden Planters
    & Stepping Stones” ended up being good! Icannot agree together with u
    even more! Finally looks like I actuallycame across a blog
    page definitely worth reading through. Thanks for your time, Delmar

  13. Lisa
    LisaJune 28,13

    Question on the concrete. What kind do you use? And would a Portland Cement/sand mix work? Or would concrete mix you buy work better? (I ask because I have a huge bag of it I want to use up)

    Thank you! :-)

  14. Cori Warner
    Cori WarnerJuly 2,13

    You can add Perlite and Peat Moss to the concrete mixture to make it weigh less. It also gives it an interesting texture. Both of these are available at any garden center, such as Lowes, etc. Use 2 parts cement, 1 part Perlite, and 1 part peat moss. My kids and I did stepping stones with this, and it worked pretty well!

  15. Cori Warner
    Cori WarnerJuly 2,13

    Here’s a link to a tutorial where they used beach balls as the form for spheres.

  16. Diana Kolb
    Diana KolbJuly 13,13

    I tried making a concrete planter, using an aluminum pan for the shape and a smaller laundry soap measuring cup, I followed the directions and now cant get it out of the mold LOL. but I have made several concrete birdbaths using different Large leaves that turned out perfect, so will try again to make a planter? I absolutely love this site, I have gotten alot of ideas from it so Thanks for putting up another one.

  17. Venetta
    VenettaFebruary 26,14

    You should be a part of a contest for one
    of the highest quality sites on the internet. I will highly recommend this blog!

  18. Chereese
    ChereeseDecember 31,14

    the name of them is zig zag pots large 1.99 sm 1.59 just purchased some day after Christmas

    I use plain vasoline to oil my molds you have better coverage than liquid oil also, spray oils cause more bubbles. don’t forget to tap them to release bubbles just like you would a cake prior to putting it in the oven to bake, A blessed New Year to all.

  19. Patty
    PattyJune 28,15

    What was the mix you used. Sand mix or concrete? What was the recipe 5 to 1? These stones look great.

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