I am a fool for heavy pots—I mean con­tain­ers. Clay pots, iron pots, wooden pots, con­crete pots. I like pots that won’t blow away in the wind and that make you think twice about rear­rang­ing the gar­den furniture.

So dur­ing this, My DIY Sum­mer*, I vowed to begin my quest with my new-found fas­ci­na­tion with con­crete to try my hand at mak­ing some heavy pots. Thank good­ness Lowe’s asked me to join their Lowe’s Cre­ative Ideas blog­gers group so I would have a dead­line and a Lowe’s gift card as an incen­tive. You should check back here through­out the next few months, because there are more projects, give­aways and other blog­gers’ projects to explore.

This rus­tic, but dec­o­ra­tive, con­tainer fits right in with my gar­den decor. I found all the mate­ri­als I didn’t already have on-hand at Lowe’s. The actual work time would, I would esti­mate, be about one hour. And the beauty of this project is that I now have the mate­ri­als on-hand for other con­crete projects. (I already have some started, so stay tuned for that.) Here’s how I did it.

Step 1. Assem­ble your sup­plies. Nearly all of these sup­plies can be pur­chased at Lowe’s. I give you the prices I paid below. My local Lowe’s gives mil­i­tary fam­i­lies a 10% dis­count, so bring your ID and make sure to ask.

Mate­ri­als you will need include:

  • - Plas­tic stor­age con­tain­ers or other con­tain­ers to serve as inner and outer forms. Make sure there is about 1.5″ — 3″ between all the walls so there is enough con­crete for strength. If you’re super-handy, you can build forms. I kept it sim­ple for this maiden voy­age into the world of con­crete. ($13.72)
  • - Con­crete mix (quan­tity depends on the size of the con­tainer) ($4.64)
  • - Oil (on-hand—from the kitchen)
  • - Water
  • - Chicken wire or other wire to rein­force the con­crete cut to fit slightly smaller than each of the sides and bot­tom (on-hand)
  • - Wire cut­ters (on-hand)
  • - Mix­ing bucket (pur­chased pre­vi­ously — on-hand)
  • - Mix­ing tools (I used an old hoe and hand trowel)
  • - Safety mask ($2.53)
  • - Gloves ($6.80)
  • - Corks or other mate­r­ial to make drainage holes (I made a sac­ri­fice and drank some wine. But only for the corks.)
  • - Dec­o­ra­tive rocks ($6.84)
  • - Plants ($11.56)
  • - Pot­ting mix (on-hand)
  • - Twigs (on-hand)
  • - A bit of twine, wire or string (on-hand)

Total cost for out-of-pocket mate­ri­als I didn’t have on-hand:  $46.09. The real beauty is that I now have some of the mate­ri­als to make other con­crete projects. Stay tuned on that.

Step 2. Don your fetch­ing safety mask and gloves before you even open the bag of con­crete mix. Con­crete is amaz­ingly dusty and you don’t want to inhale this stuff into your lungs. If you get it on your skin, it is very caus­tic. Wash imme­di­ately and rinse with vine­gar. Just wear gloves, okay?

Put the con­crete in one area of your mix­ing con­tainer and the min­i­mum amount of water called for on the con­crete mix in the other. Grad­u­ally pull the dry con­crete mix into the water, mix­ing thor­oughly and knead­ing it with the tool. You want to mix it very thor­oughly and not have any dry mix lin­ger­ing at the bot­tom of your con­tainer or at the edges. Add water, as needed, but do not add more water than nec­es­sary to make a soft, clay-like mix. Too much water will make your con­crete project sus­cep­ti­ble to crack­ing and breaking.

Step 3. Oil the inside of your outer mold and the out­side of your inner mold—the places where the con­crete will touch. Start with a bit of con­crete on the bot­tom of the outer con­tainer, cov­er­ing the bot­tom and tamp­ing down firmly to get good coverage.

Step 4. Add your chicken wire or other rein­forc­ing mate­r­ial. Oil your corks or other drainage hole mate­ri­als and insert them through the con­crete. Make sure you clear the space below so you don’t have a con­crete layer obscur­ing the hole. Add more con­crete to cover the rein­forc­ing wire and secure the corks.


 Step 5. Put the inner mold into place. Add the rein­forc­ing wire on all sides and begin adding the con­crete mix on both sides. Keep pack­ing it in and pack­ing it down thoroughly.

Step 6. Smooth out the top of the form. If you are adding dec­o­ra­tive rocks, wedge them into the con­crete mix and secure them in place. Wipe the rocks clean with a wet paper towel.  Once that is done, walk away for two days.

Step 7.   After two days, invert the con­tainer forms to remove your brand new plant­ing con­tainer. Let is sit for another cou­ple of days, spritz­ing it with water from time to time so it doesn’t dry out too quickly, mak­ing it more prone to crack­ing. Clean up the dec­o­ra­tive rocks again with a moist cloth.

Step 8. Remove the corks and ensure your drainage holes are large and unobscured.

Step 9. Add your plants. I planted a Stars & Stripes Man­dev­illa vine—which seemed appro­pri­ate head­ing into the Memo­r­ial Day weekend—and a few petu­nias. The Man­dev­ille vine will grow up to cover the tepee, with blooms all sum­mer long.

Step 10. Cre­ate a tepee with the twigs, secur­ing it at the top with twine, string or wire. Voila!


Lowe’s has some pretty cool Pin­ter­est boards too. Go check them out.

*My DIY Sum­mer was inspired by three forces: 1) A whole slew of new books about gar­den projects 2) The fact that my son is in col­lege and tuition is expen­sive and 3) I still have expen­sive tastes, despite the fact that I am pay­ing col­lege tuition.



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10 Responses to “My DIY Summer: A Decorative Concrete Planter”

  1. Layanee Says:

    Oh, nice. You could make a bunch and go into busi­ness to help out with col­lege expenses…maybe not. Heavy work in bulk.

  2. Kylee from Our Little Acre Says:

    Really nice, Robin! I want to do some con­crete projects, too. I’ve got a cou­ple of books that have some super ideas. I like how you added the dec­o­ra­tive rocks in the top.

  3. Diana/Sharingnaturesgarden Says:

    Very cool. I’m still decid­ing about the Cre­ative Ideas team invite — I still have a nine year old at home! Love the con­crete– you make it look so easy!

  4. Dale Says:

    You stole my plan. I was JUST get­ting ready to do some­thing like this soon. I was plan­ning on try­ing to mix in some ver­mi­culite to lighten it ever so slightly. Love these type of planters.

  5. Gale Says:

    First off I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick ques­tion in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was inter­ested to know how you cen­ter your­self and clear your head before writ­ing. I’ve had a hard time clear­ing my thoughts in get­ting my thoughts out. I do enjoy writ­ing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 min­utes are lost sim­ply just try­ing to fig­ure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Cheers!

  6. DeDe @ Designed Decor Says:

    Great idea, and it turned out very nice!

  7. Jodie Says:

    Love it. Another craft night idea. At the rate I’m going, craft night will have to be every night.

  8. Robin Says:

    I’ve always wanted to make my own con­crete planter! Your planter looks great, I love the dec­o­ra­tive

  9. Stephanie Says:

    I love your Lowes pot!…Our mas­ter gar­dener group is hav­ing a work­shop soon on mak­ing these.…Our for­mer coor­di­na­tor learned to make them last year.…Im def­i­nitely sign­ing up…Thanks for the hands on pictures…That always helps me when learn­ing some­thing new..

  10. Stephanie Says:

    I love your Lowes pot!…Our mas­ter gar­dener group is hav­ing a work­shop soon on mak­ing these.…Our for­mer coor­di­na­tor learned to make them last year.…Im def­i­nitely sign­ing up…Thanks for the hands on pictures…That always helps me when learn­ing some­thing new..

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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