Making concrete stepping stones with leaves from your garden is a fun and creative way to add some structure to your garden design. Using leaves from your largest plants, you can create an impressive work of art in twenty-four hours. Make as gifts, or use for your own unique garden pathway. Learn how to make concrete stepping stones, and you will be impressed by just how easy it is!
Have you ever wanted to make your own stepping stones?
I have been planning to make concrete stepping stones for some time now, a few years really, and absolutely love the look of them in the garden.
Initially I considered this project in the psychosocial rehab group setting where I worked as a psychiatric nurse.
The thought of working with concrete held me back from starting this project with clients. Working with concrete is not without risk, and it’s important to have some safety gear in place.
Here is a great article on Safety Tips When Working With Concrete from Concrete Alberta, highlighting safety gear to use when working with cement.
Making Concrete Stepping Stones
This year we finally decided to make concrete stepping stones for our own garden. We also made one for a very special Father’s Day gift.
I mentioned in a previous post on growing rhubarb, that we had received some special rhubarb from a cherished family member. This person was an uncle who is no longer with us, and we wanted to gift a stepping stone made with his rhubarb to his brother, my father-in-law.
A simple yet sentimental gift that filled our hearts with joy.
It was the perfect gift, and was very well received. This special concrete stepping stone now has a special spot in a fabulous garden, and is connected through many wonderful memories.
What Can I Use For Stepping Stone Molds?
There are all kinds of elements that you can use for stepping stone molds. In this post we will be using leaf molds, and I have to admit they will probably be my favourite, although this is my first attempt.
The end product of these leaf molds was so spectacular, and we were so impressed with ourselves! Really though, it’s all about the leaves.
Choose Leaves With Deep Veining
- The best types of leaves for this project are those with deep veining. The large veins will make a good impression in the cement.
- The veins will be highlighted in the final product and give depth and definition.
- The veining gives the stones an amazing design, and each one will be unique in it’s own way.
Choose Leaves That Are Large
- It’s important to choose your largest leaves for stepping stones, as they will make the best sized stones for a pathway.
- The large leaved and deep veined leaves that we used in our project included rhubarb and hosta leaves
Supplies For Making DIY Concrete Stepping Stones
- Selected leaves – we used rhubarb and hosta leaves
- Can of pam or alternate cooking spray
- Bag of concrete mix
- Safety goggles
What Kind Of Concrete Do You Use To Make Stepping Stones?
We got our concrete at the local hardware store. It was a finer mix which did not include additives such as sand and gravel.
We chose this concrete to give our stepping stones a finer appearance.
We decided not to use any strengthener in our project, however you can certainly do this for yours.
Concrete that includes coarse gravel and sand is sometimes stronger over time.
You can also use a wire mesh such as chicken wire as a reinforcing agent to give your stepping stones additional strength. Just add this when you are pouring the concrete onto your leaf molds, and sandwich between the concrete.
How Thick Should Concrete Stepping Stones Be?
Concrete stepping stones should be about an inch to an inch and a half thick. With this depth they will be easier to move, as they are still pretty heavy to lift and put into place, but will also be strong enough to stand the test of time.
Where Should This Project Take Place?
- Do this project in a well ventilated, preferably outdoor location.
- Fine cement dust easily becomes airborne, and you can breathe this in without the right safety equipment.
- This dust is very irritative and can cause injury, so make sure you are well protected.
How To Make Concrete Stepping Stones With Leaves
Preparation For The Project
- Pick your leaves, and set them on a flat surface with the undersides facing upwards.
- We placed ours on an old table which we have outside in the garden. We were not worried about damaging the table with concrete, but you can protect your surface before laying down your leaves with a drop cloth or disposable tablecloth.
- I noticed that the hard flat surface of the table helped to make the stepping stone’s surface nice and flat when dried. I really liked this effect.
- Spray this underside surface of the leaves with the cooking oil. This helps with removal of the leaves from the concrete, after the concrete hardens.
- Put on your safety gear: goggles, respirator and gloves.
- Wet the wheelbarrow to make the process easier.
The Process Of Making the Stepping Stones
- Pour some concrete powder into the wheelbarrow, and gauge the amount depending on the size and numbers of leaves that you will using.
- We used about a quarter of a 40 kg bag of cement for two large rhubarb leaves and a small hosta leaf.
- In fact the hosta leaf was extra, and we used it in the end to use up the last of the concrete in the wheelbarrow. It was a nice add-on.
- Add water to the concrete to make a mixture that has a peanut butter consistency. Stir with the shovel until well mixed.
- If the mixture gets too runny you can add some more concrete. Work it until you get the right consistency.
- Now it’s time to layer the concrete onto the leaves.
- Place several large dollops of concrete onto each leaf, and spread with the shovel to cover each leaf surface. If the mixture is the right texture it will not be runny and will stay in place.
- Spread the concrete from the inner aspect of the leaf to the outer edges.
- Wait for twenty four hours for the stepping stones to dry.
The Unveiling Of The Concrete Stepping Stones
- After twenty four hours check to see if your concrete stepping stones have dried.
- Ours had dried and were ready to turn over.
- It was quite exciting to peel back the leaves to reveal the imprint on the cement. The molds had worked perfectly, and the reveal was almost surreal.
- The leaf had etched the concrete and also temporarily transferred some of it’s colouring. I absolutely loved this unique look!
- The leaf was easy to peel back, revealing the concrete below.
- This revealed a perfect imprint of the rhubarb leaf with it’s thick veins and scalloped edges.
- The leaves were heart shaped and looked lovely against the dark garden soil where they were placed.
- We gave our rhubarb leaf stepping stone Father’s Day gift proudly, and sentimentally.
There is always a sentiment about sharing plants and bits from the garden. We always remember where they came from and it makes us feel very grateful and connected.
- Cleanup was quick and easy.
- Just rinse out the wheelbarrow and rinse off your shovel.
In the end this whole project wasn’t hard at all. The safety gear was pretty simple to use, and the activity was so easy from start to finish.
We will definitely making more concrete stepping stones in the future, and we’ll be on the lookout for other large leaves that may be good candidates to use.
Have you ever made concrete stepping stones with leaves? Be sure you leave a comment below to share your experience!