leaf imprint stepping stones project

Leaf Imprint Stepping Stones

This Weekend Project is a decorative way to preserve the garden by capturing the beauty of leaves all year round as 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 that protects your garden, or simply add them here and there as a decorative feature.

leaf imprint stepping stones project

As pretty as they are, let’s not ignore their practical importance: these concrete beauties allow a person to walk through their garden easily without worrying about hurting precious plants. Stepping stones are laid to prevent the soil compaction that results from tromping through the garden beds. Walking directly on wet garden soil can destroy the structure of your soil, reducing plant root’s ability to retrieve water and nutrients.

Leaf Imprint Stepping Stones DIY Project

Unless your garden is all within arm’s length, stepping stones are a functional way to reduce the stress on soil structure, and they are pretty darn, well, pretty!


  • Square or round plastic containers
  • Vegetable oil
  • Foam brush
  • Dry repair concrete
  • Wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing concrete
  • Rubber gloves
  • Trowel
  • Leaves
  • Small rocks

Make it!

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 relatively straight sides, resulting in straight-sided stepping stones.leaf imprint stepping stones project

Choose leaves with interesting shapes, strong veins, and defined edges. Shown here (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), which will influence my choice of leaves in the future.

Use the foam brush to spread the vegetable oil around the inside of the container and on the vein side of the leaf.leaf imprint stepping stones project

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 molds 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!).leaf imprint stepping stones project

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 unmold your stepping stones and place around the garden. leaf imprint stepping stones project

I weighed the leaves down with river stones removed them from the molds after 24 hours and, voila!leaf imprint stepping stones project

I was also lucky enough to have worked 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!

stepping stones with letters and leaves

Please have a look at all of the creative Weekend Projects, Garden Projects, Craft Projects and even Recipes to be found on this blog. Perhaps you will find something to work on with your brilliant pals.

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. Anja
    AnjaJune 19,12

    What a cool idea! I could imagine doing that too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mixed Kreations
    Mixed KreationsJune 20,12

    These are really cool. I seen a little leaf birdbath made out of an elephant ear similar to how you made your stepping stones. Will have to give these a try. Love how you added the letter. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tutorial.

  3. Pizimac
    PizimacJuly 30,12

    wow! they look like little fossils or something! Amazing!

  4. Sue
    SueJune 17,13

    What did you oil the containers with?

  5. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 17,13

    Hi Sue, just vegetable oil. It worked perfectly!

  6. Linda
    LindaMarch 5,14

    Oh I just love this! I can’t wait to try it!

  7. Charlie@Seattle Trekker
    [email protected] TrekkerJune 14,14

    Love your blog and the DIY projects are amazing. The imprinted leaves project gives me some great ideas.

  8. Laura | Baking Outside the Box
    Laura | Baking Outside the BoxJune 18,14

    This is a very clever DIY. I’d love to find a way to make the leaves look like fairy wings for my grand kids. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 18,14

    Hi Laura, what a fabulous idea! Please share if you do make them.

  10. Marci
    MarciMarch 28,15

    I’ve made these before, but without the addition of the stones to weight the leaf down. Wow, does it make a BIG difference. Will be giving this a try once I get a new crop of leaves going, as I’m making an old brick walkway that’s going to be short bricks and these will be great space fillers!

  11. Jackie Sylvia
    Jackie SylviaMarch 29,15

    Hi i love these stepping stones,I made some wooden silhouettes of family members I think I’ll try them out.

  12. Stephanie
    StephanieMarch 31,15

    what a great idea, Jackie!

  13. Christine
    ChristineJuly 19,15

    Hi there! Found you via Pinterest.
    I love the idea of weighing down the leaves. I was trying to press them with something flat, which left lines, then I tried putting the leaves in first, pouring on top of them and flipping the stones when done. Uh… no.

    I did, however, use pizza boxes for my molds. I made them in place, in the garden. I also used Pam instead of painting on veggie oil. I don’t cook, so it was going to waste, anyway. The thing is, I just left them in the pizza boxes, which decomposed away from the stepping stones after a while. Easy pizza-ie!

    Thanks for the great idea!

  14. DM
    DMMay 7,16

    Lovely !! I will try this soon ! Thank you for the idea on how to press the leaves …. I also read in the comments about the pizza boxes …. I don’t eat pizzas myself , but next time the grand kids come ….

  15. Bulders Fulham
    Bulders FulhamMarch 17,17

    WOW truly amazing stuff, so inspirational!

  16. Lita
    LitaApril 20,17

    Instead of the leaf being added on top of the cement, could you instead put it on the mold and pour the cement mixture on top? What would be the effect?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseApril 24,17

      Hi Lita, unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well. The concrete spreads over the leaf and buries it. I’ve tried both ways and this one is much more effective.

  17. Masonry Stairs
    Masonry StairsMay 3,17

    Hello Stephanie! You have shared such an amazing stepping stone idea. The garden looks beautiful with decorative feature. Good job!

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