Get smart with cement in the garden – 71Bait

Cement is not usually associated with gardening. But it’s an incredibly versatile medium that only requires the most basic tools to create 101 different items, from personalized stepping stones to bird baths, flower pots, outdoor tablecloth weights, night lights and even a fire bowl.

All you need is cement, soil or sand, water, and some basic household items to use as molds. Once the cement has set, grab some Fired Earth paint and decorate to your heart’s content.

Quick Tips:

  • When working with cement, use a mask, goggles and gloves to protect your hands.
  • No rush. Allow at least 24 hours or more for your artwork to dry.
  • For another 24 hours, frequently spray some water on the dried cement product to make it even stronger.
  • Cement has a shelf life of three months. To keep it viable, store leftover cement in a sealed bag away from all moisture.

Here are some fun and easy things you can make with a bit of cement and some imagination:

Personalized stepping stones
This one is for the kids. How about a stepping stone with an imprint of your hands (like the Hollywood stars) or your own design with pebbles, colored glass and even embedded toys!

The beauty of handprinting is that everyone in the family can make their own, a truly personal family keepsake for years to come.

You need:
Premix 5 parts concrete to 1 part water and create a square or round mold that can be made out of plastic, glass, foil or even the bottom of a bucket.

Mix the concrete and water until it’s the consistency of thick mud, as smooth as possible. Coat the inside of the container with non-stick spray or oil and pour or paint the concrete inside. Push the items into the concrete. For handprints, allow the concrete to set a little before pressing it into your hands.

Leave on for 24 hours and then carefully remove from the mold.

Decorative plant pots
Add a special touch to your houseplants, herbs or succulents by placing them in decorative plant holders. Why not make the potholders yourself? That’s how it’s done:

You need: Two containers, one larger than the other. This can be large mugs, plastic pots, glasses, cardboard cylinders, or other containers. The smaller container is needed to create the interior space for the potted plant.

Mix cement and water in a plastic bowl to a firm, muddy consistency. Oil or spray the inside of the larger container. Fill it three-quarters full with cement. Spray the outer surface of the smaller container and press firmly into the cement. This creates the inner hollow for the potted plant. Place rocks or weights in the inner container to weigh it down. Leave to dry for 24 hours. Remove from the mold, smooth with sandpaper and varnish. Painting is a good way to preserve your cement holder.

A bath for the birds
In this heat, the birds love and need a cooling splash of water. The more the better. In gardens without cats, the bowls can stand on the ground, attracting other garden dwellers. Make the rim of the bird bath as wide as possible to make it easier for the birds to sit.

You need: A bucket for mixing cement, water, 2 plastic bowls, one slightly larger than the other (so the gap between the 2 forms a wide rim), gloves, and non-stick spray or oil.

Mix the cement in the bucket. Spray or oil the inside of the large bowl and fill it half or a little over half full with cement. Spray/oil the bottom and sides of the second bowl and nest it in the larger bowl so that the cement comes all the way to the top. Top up with cement if necessary. Place rocks in the second bowl to weigh it down. Flatten the top. Leave it on for a week and take out the top bowl. Let the bottom bowl sit for another week before removing it from the plastic bowl. Seal with stone sealer.

fire in the bowl:
There’s nothing quite like fireside chats under the stars. If you don’t want to build a large fire pit, make this concrete fire pit.

You need: Two plastic bowls, one of which must fit inside the other. You will also need oil or non-stick spray, something heavy, a knife or file, some decorative pebbles and wire mesh.

Start by coating each of the bowls with the oil or non-stick spray before mixing up some cement and then pouring that into the larger bowl. Make sure the mixture is as smooth as possible. Next, place the small bowl in the large bowl and place your heavy object (preferably a weight) in the center of the smaller bowl to weigh it down. Let it rest overnight before carefully removing the inner shell. Then use a knife, file or sandpaper to smooth the edges of your new concrete shell.

Cut the square wire mesh and shape it to fit the concrete shell. Carefully place a can of Tiki Fuel in the center and cover with the chicken wire. Cover the wire with decorative rocks, light the tiki fuel, and enjoy.

Light at night garden candles

This is another easy project for the kids. Candles always add atmosphere, especially when sitting outside or around the fire pit.

You need: Any shape you like, maybe a shell, a star shaped cookie cutter, shapes… and a tealight.

Mix some cement to a firm, fine consistency. Oil or spray the inside of your chosen items. Pour in the cement and put it in the mold. Oil or spray the bottom and sides of the tea lights and press into the cement. Let them dry for 24 hours. Remove from the mold and sand or paint smooth.

Visit https://www.builders.co.za/ for more crafting tips. Scroll down to YouTube and search for Cement. It will throw up a multitude of ideas.

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