That well worn path can be paved with inexpensive stepping stones. This guide is about homemade stepping stones.
Stepping stones are an easy way to add functional creativity to your garden. Here's a simple and inexpensive way to make your own in just 10 easy steps.
I save and collect broken glass and other little findings. Then I put 2 inches of cement in the bottom of a 5 or 3 gallon bucket then I press the pieces of glass and things on top.
Use half flat plant containers to make fast and easy paving stones for your garden. We had a bunch of half flat containers left over from buying plants this spring. I thought they would make great stepping stone molds, but wasn't sure how to get the best results and be able to reuse the molds for future projects. I got the idea to line them with plastic and turned out to be the perfect solution.
I am making stepping stones with each family member's hand (or paw) prints and name! We are including all friends and family who visit and will be making one of my bf's mother who is 70! These are really fun and easy. I use Sakrete which is a kind of brick mortar. You shore up a small pizza box with duct tape and line it with a garbage bag. The Sakrete is less than 5 dollars for 80 pounds and I'm using 10 pounds per stone.
By Lily from South Bend, IN
Stir up your own cement and add seashells, broken pottery, and glass to create a colourful stepping-stone for the gardener on your Christmas list.
Give your completed stepping-stone to your favorite gardener!
I wanted to make unique garden ornaments so I started locating cake pans with specific designs, like Tweety or Sylvester, and making concrete decorations from them. I paint them and have unique ornaments no one else has in their yard.
By Carol from Indianapolis, IN
I save the plastic tops to store bought cakes; both the round ones and rectangular ones. They make great reusable molds for making paving stones.
I also save broken jewelry, cheap beads, marbles, pretty beach glass, broken tiles and such.
Pour quick crete into the mold. Mix in water and stir well. Add water slowly so you don't get it too soupy. Then add the pretties on top. Kids can add a hand print if they wish.
Let sit several days to set. It will pop out of the mold and you can reuse it numerous times.
I got some stepping stones the other day for a little over a dollar a piece. I wanted to "jazz" them up a bit. I've seen all these cute footprint pictures on Pinterest. So, I put my kids' feet to work and made these little bugs and flowers, using Patio Paint (found in craft stores). The other 3 plain footprints are from last year. I love seeing how much they have grown.
Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle. The paint needs to cure for 3 days before getting wet. You could also use Patio Paint to decorate your stones any way that you would like. Just let your inner artist come out!
No need to buy a 'stepping stone form' to create your garden stones; just dig a hole 4 inches deep in the desired shape wherever you want the stone and fill with quick mix concrete. Be careful not to breathe in any concrete dust!
For decorative stones (not path stones), try digging the hole in sand, dirt, or the gravel on the driveway. Fill with concrete, smooth with trowel, and press in pretty stones. Leave to set over night and lift out in the morning. Just don't make these too large to lift easily.
I have one by my garden bench that says 'Listen'. It reminds me to slow down and listen to the birdsong and the brook.
By Barb from Acra, NY
Here is a stepping stone I designed and made last spring. Seems that stepping stones are perennial favorites on craft sites so thought this would be helpful. I use a hot wire machine to cut letters out of styrofoam, glue the letters to the bottom of the form used (in a mirror image) then pour the concrete mixture into the forms. After setting 24-48 hours, my stepping stone is ready.
By Creativeman from Chatswoth, CA
Seattle is known for it's rain. And with that rain comes muddy yards, so I needed stepping stones. But I didn't want to worry about my lawnmower hitting the stones, so I came up with a plan that worked perfectly! And all you need is cement or concrete, water and a shovel.
First of all, pick a day with no rain that's not very hot and cut your grass as short as you can in the area you want to place your stepping stones. Next (on the freshly cut grass) mark the exact outline of what you want each of your stepping stones to look like. (Most people use a marking paint made for marking underground power cables, but I used plain white cooking flour which I sprinkled on with my hand).
The design I used was of "amoeba-like" asymmetrical and slightly interlocking "stones". Next, dig down into the ground about 4 - 6 inches (on and inside the line) while following the line you drew with your shovel. Lastly mix your cement with water (I mixed one bag at a time in a 5 gal bucket) then fill each freshly dug hole to the top with the wet cement. (The ground is your "mold")
*Buy about 1 small bag of concrete per hole depending on the size and depth of the hole. You can press several interesting sticks and leaves into the wet cement, these will look like "fossils" in the "stone". You can also stain the cement with a cement colorant so it looks like stone, (many colors are available), but I left mine plain and they turned out wonderful.
I chose a wavy path for my stepping stones (as opposed to a straight line) with one zigzag in it. This looks great with the "organic" interlocking shape of the recessed cement "stones" and I put a fountain with plants around it in the center where the path "zigged".
The stepping stones look like slate for a fraction of the price, but my favorite thing about them is that we could mow right over them with no harm to our mower blades! That and the way my shoes no longer got wet on my way to the car! I was told that without adding re-bar my stepping stones might crack, but they've been there for nearly 20 years now and have held up fine. But, truthfully, if they do crack, it just adds to the slate-like rock look. No big deal!
Here's a video about making your own stepping stones.
By Annie 1
Would I be able to use Elmer's glue as a super placticizer for making cement or concrete stepping stones?
By Annie from Boulder City, NV
March 21, 2010
Yes you can, but what you want to use is regular Elmer's Concrete Bonder or Elmer's Probond. It's used to bond new concrete to old. When mixed into the concrete it acts as fortifier making your stepping stones stronger and more weather resistant.
I titled this: "Success with mosaics." It is the picture of a stepping stone made with Styrofoam letters and broken pieces of tiles used as the mosaic. The letters are made on a hotwire machine, glued into a form, and the mosaic pieces are glued in place as well.
Does anyone have any idea as to what I can use to seal a plaster stepping stone? I had my grandson make a stepping stone from a kit. It turned out to be plaster which will disintegrate outside. I had him paint it today (with acrylic paints), but now I can't find anything to seal the whole thing with. I was told to use Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, but that is strictly for wood finishes. Please help!
June 29, 2011
Go To Michael's Crafts or AC Moore Crafts stores & ask them.Or even Home Depot or Lowes-They all should know,if you tell them what you want to seal. Good Luck! : )
I get a lot of little air holes in the top of my stepping stones when I turn them out. I am using plastic molds and tap them on the ground to release the air, but still get lots of little air holes in what I would like to be a smooth surface.
September 9, 2013
What I have done is when the bottom is actually going to be the surface of a stepping stone I put enough concrete to cover the tiles and a little more, Tap, then fill it up the rest of the way with the concrete if I still have a bubble on the surface after turning out, I just mix up some of the concrete and push it in with my finger and smooth the surface. I liked
The foam letters numbers and shapes along with the glass tiles. After it is completely dry I will lift out the foam and it leaves a nice sharp indentation.
Homemade cement, rock, and I added my own design!
I have 40 years worth of chipped and cracked mugs (you know the ones you save from kids, grandkids, sisters, and husband's parents and so on). I was thinking of breaking them up for stepping stones and was wondering if anyone has tried this?
By Wendy A
By ankenned 1
Any solution to this problem? I put in the name of someone on a cement garden stone and it is spelled incorrectly. Is that an easy fix - how to do that?
I have a Texas shaped mold. I can't seem to keep the panhandle and south Texas from breaking off. I was told to put chicken wire in my mold for stability.
I have a nephew that was upset one day and pulled out some of the stones, marbles, and other decorations from our stepping stones. Is there a glue or something I can use to replace them? To be able to put them back in would be to cool.
We were not able to embellish with our lettering, marbles, etc. I have 2 sad little girls and one frustrated grandma. I followed the concrete quick set directions and worked fast, but not fast enough.
We will paint it next week using acrylic paints. What should it be covered with to preserve it?
Is there a way to make garden stepping stones without using concrete?
By Penny W.
Joyce from Near South Bend, IN
Both types of concrete will work just fine, but quick setting concrete will give you faster results and it's usually cheaper. If you're looking for something other than standard gray concrete, you can create various colors using a cement/mortar tint. These products can be found at most hardware or home improvement stores. They really allow you to jazz things up a bit or even match the color to your home's foundation or to other elements in your landscaping. Some products are mixed in and change the color of the entire body of concrete, while others are applied as tints after the concrete sets and cures.
In regard to the correct water-to-concrete ratio, different mixes will harden at different rates depending on the air temperature during curing, the temperature of the water added, and the percent of cement in the mix. As a general rule, the more cement the faster the concrete cures. Also, the less water (or more cement) the stronger the concrete. Try a 4:1 ratio (4 parts mix, 1 part water) to start with. You can always add more water. Aim for a not-too-thick but not-too-thin consistency similar to brownie batter. Stepping stones need to be durable, so a slow, damp and cool cure is best for producing the strongest finished product. In other words, cover the form with a damp cloth while it cures and keep it out of direct sunlight.
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I used the concrete calculator: http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/howmuch/calculator.htm
It says you'd need .01 cubic yards. There also may be information on there about the amount of water to mix in. Because it is such a small amount, look on the bag of concrete as to how much it makes and divide accordingly.
The thing that is nice about quikcrete is that it is all mixed, rock added, and gives instructions for how much water to add to mix it up. I'd recommend that if you are only making two. It also comes in smaller bags. (09/01/2006)
What can I make stepping stones for my yard out of besides concrete? I have been thinking about using roofing shingles. Anything recycled would be nice, too. Any ideas will be appreciated.
By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN
I have created some neat flower beds using building materials I find laying around, like smaller pieces of flagstone, etc. You could try craigslist for people who are giving away stuff like that. Otherwise there is fun decorative gravel (white, red, blue) that would be a nice look. (06/04/2009)
For a Sunday school project, we used pie plates. Fill with cement and add decorative stone, tile, gems. They are quite sturdy. (06/12/2009)
Haven't tried it yet, but sliced up a fallen pine tree to treat/soak each piece, then use as pavers. (06/12/2009)
Just about everything other then concrete and rocks will break down over time. If you're talking about the asphalt shingles they won't last long being walked on. I have used Carpet Upside-Down and before you know it you have little pieces of carpet fiber all over your yard indefinitely, I have used wine bottles to edge my garden beds, but I would be afraid to walk on them. If you eat a lot of tuna or have a cat that use the small cans you can turn them upside down in a pattern. They will last but maybe two seasons and be careful once they rust they can cut your feet.
Any type of plastic breaks down fairly rapidly when left in the sun and if you walk on it that will speed up the process, plaster of Paris will not hold up in the elements. The wood will rot out and attract termites unless treated which I don't want the chemicals in my garden. So I'm sorry I think you're stuck with concrete, 1 thing that I've had little success with is the heavy grill from old Barbecue they do have a tendency to work their way down into the ground you'll have to keep pulling them up but they did last for years. I have heard of people getting misprinted and or broken marble headstones from cemeteries, at least they're not concrete. (06/13/2009)
This is still using cement, but the result is more than just a cement stepping stone. Get old pans that are fairly large but shallow. I have not tried lining them, but if you think you want to use the pans for additional pieces, try lining them with a garbage bag.
Pour cement into the pan at the desired depth. When the cement is beginning to set, decorate the top by pressing different leaves or branches just deep enough to leave a good impression. Make each one different. You can even print on some of them--"Beauty" "Peace" "Garden" or whatever you would like.
After they set you should be able to remove them from the pans because of the lining. The varied shapes and designs should give your yard a very personal touch. (09/24/2009)