DIY concrete planters are a fun project that takes very little time or effort. Save money by making your own.
Along the roadside here in Limon, Costa Rica people like to sell you their wares and crafts. In just a 20 minute trip from town we pass balsa wood carvings of eagles and toucans, granite fountains, baskets made from local fibers and our favorite, the replications of Indian art sculptures. The designs are beautifully adapted into tables, benches, chairs, planters and a variety of other objects for your outdoor space. After building our cabin we had a half bag of concrete left over and I decided to try to make a DIY concrete planter for myself. I have made quite a few since then at just a fraction of the cost of the roadside ones.
Materials List – What you will need:
Items for making a mold such as buckets, containers and Duct-tape
Carving instruments such as old silverware and metal tools
Make a Bucket Mold
First get an idea of the general shape of what you are making, and then make a mold using found objects. I like the idea of making something functional so my mold is for diy concrete planters. Using an old bucket I had with a hole in it I used a coke bottle, duct tape and a PVC tube to help create hole for the planter. The plastic 2L bottle is cut so only the spout part is left. This makes a wide opening at the top of my planter.
The mold is a very general starting point and a lot of the cement will be carved away. The most important function of the bucket mold is to allow your concrete to set and for your concrete block to easily slide out of it without cracking.
I like to use a mixture of 1 part cement to 3 parts sand and make the mixture nice and wet to reduce the likelihood of air pockets in your mold. The finer the sand the better, it makes for easier sculpting. I don’t use it, but mixing in granite powder makes the sculpture stronger and also more expensive.
When the mixture is ready pour it into the mold. I like to make sure my mold is already on my worktable in a shady dry place and level. This ensures that the concrete sets level and that I don’t have to travel far when I flip the mold over, since at this point it is quite heavy and depending on the size of your mold you may need more than one person to gently move it around.
Wait and Flip
Wait for the cement to set to the point that when you push on it with your thumb it is hard but still wet and cool with a small indentation. When you feel it is ready, flip it over. You may need to use a rubber mallet to tap the bottom for a clean release.
Use old tools and silverware to carve out your sculpture. My favorite tool is a small spoon but old screwdrivers, knives, nails and other metal objects work well also. As you are carving out your sculpture frequently wet down the sculpture with a spray bottle or handfuls of water to soften the cement and keep it from cracking and breaking away.
Set and Dry
You won’t want move your sculpture until it is completely dry so make sure it is in a spot that does not get direct sunlight to avoid cracking.
For the first three days of your sculptures life wet it down morning and evening, this will allow the concrete to dry evenly and strengthen your sculpture.
After approximately 5 days place your planter in a spot that is visible from your favorite outside lounging spot.