My Garden Tour of Concrete Projects

I always get asked about how well my concrete projects last. Come, let me update you as I take you on my garden tour of concrete projects!

And it started here:

Over 15 years ago I started my concrete adventure with these stepping stones. I now have a collection of leaves all ages and ‘patinas’ and am happy to say they have had no issues. I did not seal them or paint them at all but do make sure to give them a well balanced foundation! If they are not set right the most typical break is down the centre where the deep vein is; but that is not noticeable if set in the ground. Since I live in Ontario Canada we get a full range of weather. Concrete was my choice for its’ lasting power. I can’t say I am disappointed at all! I like it when they get a bit mossy and green as it is a great compliment to the garden design. And oh ya, there’s my Pup side-kick always has my back!

Everyone’s Favourite:

It’s hard to believe that this Step Spook is going to be 5 years old soon! He has sat on that stump year round (there’s a nail to keep the raccoons from pushing him off) without change of any kind to the concrete. Sadly the Spook’s image has been stolen by some fraudsters who claim to be able to sell you one – not the case at all!

I especially like it when he’s got a layer of snow and there are some visitors to the yard! I am so thankful that the deer are trusting enough to come & munch on some of my garden.

His dear friend the Witch also shares the garden. She was even host to a nest of birdie eggs! These projects fair well since they were not painted or coloured at all. I do not see a reason to seal them as them are not trying to hold water. When they get wet they then dry again…just like the sidewalks.

Since I have a woodsy backyard there are old trees stumps to keep these off the ground. As long as there is no water collecting then there is no chance of freezing. The Portland Cement used for these makes for quite dense finishes on these. I see no change happening. The cat has been hiding in the lilies for almost 3 years!

Come have a seat:

I’m sitting in the backyard right now but not in my Faux Bois chair. It is lovely but a bit hard on my boney butt. The grape vine has taken a liking to it however. Since there are no parts that will really keep any water it has faired great through the crazy fluctuations of weather we have here. There is only a tiny spot where a layer had chipped off an older layer, probably due to a bonding problem. When adding another layer make sure there is an grease ad the older concrete is damp. It sits mostly shaded so it will continue to get mossy and more patina.

Front Yard Orbs:

My front yard is a bit more manicured since it gets more street access. The back woodland garden has many challenges so it is futile to ‘fight’ Mother Nature! For curb appeal I think of clean lines, shapes and colours. The orbs give simple shapes to accent the curves of garden beds and mounded evergreen bushes. On a whim I may redesign them, as nothing is permanent.

The smaller Rock And Concrete orbs are planted with succulents or whatever I have lots of. I tip them sideways in the winter to make sure they do not collect water. It is also beneficial to keep them out of the sun to keep from freezing and thawing too often. They are over 3 years old already and even the acrylic paint has held well. I also credit the Rapidset Cementall since it is a very strong dense mx.

I like the way the textures seem like they occur naturally! Even the copper paint has held well after over 3 years in the elements. I am now at the stage where perennials are full and some favourites like Creeping Jenny come back each year. No expensive trips to the garden centre…

Crazy Orb Lady:

Yes some are REALLY big! The Giant Concrete Orbs have also lasted great over 4 years. The paint colour may have faded a bit but I am not that worried since I do not rely on the colour, and it is on the inside. I often throw some string lights in them during the Christmas season or even make Snowmen.

My prize Orb is the Gigantic Leaf Orb as it’s texture is as great now as when I made it 3 years ago. I think of it every time I look at savoy cabbage. No sealer at all! I find that the fast setting mixes are quite dense and therefore the water absorbs less. All these orbs have holes; that is the key to no chance of water collecting and freezing. I have left metal buckets out and the bottom completely pops out when it freezes.

Here’s looking at you…

Yes this Concrete Face Garden sculpture did take a few steps (it’s huge!) but I get quite the enjoyment from those quiet pondering eyes in all lights of the day. The plants grow up around them and they patina to match the rockery. It is such a nice evening as I sit here and write this post, keeping an eye on the Pup since there are coyotes in the forest. Soooo many birds are flitting here & there all competing wit their songs.

Ground cover like ivy and periwinkle make for a pretty maintenance free garden and it grows around the concrete elements to envelope them as if there for decades.

There’s also some Fun!

At the very front is a the patch that gets the most sun so it is my succulent garden. Rocks and Canada-hardy succulents make for a pretty indestructible garden that get piled quite high with sidewalk snow in winter. To give passersby some chuckle the Concrete Smiling Stones have been grinning from between the succulents. They have lost some of their pinkness of the gums but otherwise I’m impressed as the zipper did not even rust after 4 winters under mounds of snow.

You know I like rocks… as it makes everything look like it belongs! Add a bit of bling that looks like some molten copper. I do notice that the metallic acrylic paints do seem to fade less.

These Geode Eggs are still quite young and keep getting lost down in the ivy. The last couple winters have surprised us with derr coming up to munch the ivy. Good thing it does grow back!

I have so many concrete bowls here and there! When I get on a roll I make a bunch… I get lazy when fall and winter comes and at the most I just tip them sideways to allow draining. In spring I just pilfer from the gardens and shove in ‘this & that’ – no pretentious planters here.

One Casualty:

Well, there was one unfortunate concrete project. If you look closely there is a face there… a smirking frog. This is made like the PaperCrete Bird, hollow and the use of paper pulp in the mix. During a photoshoot someone mistakenly thought it was solid and could be stepped (more like stomped) on. Well, that didn’t end well. I also did notice that PaperCrete absorbs water much more than other concrete. RIP poor froggie…

Nope! not the skulls

I do not keep these Super Real look Concrete Skulls outside… some people already think I am bit crazy, so I can’t take the chance on some police dropping by…

So what’s your concrete ‘pleasure’?! Have you had good success with your projects? Aren’t you happy that you made things with concrete?!

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  1. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures. I enjoy your weekly newsletter. You are so creative. I’ve never done anything with concrete but , after seeing all of yours I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for all the inspiration.

    1. That’s great! Whenever I try a new media I do a bit of a small test, to see how the media behaves. I’ve pretty well learnt most of my skills by observing, I’m not that fond of being stuck to watching a youtube video. I would say a good place to start is leaf casting stepping stones (cheap Sand-Topping concrete mix)

    2. Love working with concrete and enjoy your projects, have made many of them. Thank you for sharing your artistry and guidance..

  2. I love them all. Not only your considerable talent in design and making them, but then the display and layout and telling the story. Just lovely. When I lived in Hawaii I would collect beach glass and make pavers and some pottery masks with a similar feel. Tourists would love them but many were reluctant to drag home a heavy concrete art form. Local people would buy them at craft shows but this was 25 years ago I was a little ahead of the nature market and never got past the first year. Seeing your impeccable work is wonderful!