Recently, a retired gentleman from Del Mar, California named Len Schoenfeld shared with me a cool urban garden art project. I was looking for something that I could make with my kids that was modern-looking and able to handle the downtown location of my gardens and two Siberian Huskies.
Len makes beautiful concrete leaves and has showcased his art at Scripps Memorial Hospital’s healing garden. While our concrete leaves aren’t quite as nice as Len’s, they still came out pretty good. The project was fun, and I don’t mind displaying them in my garden.
Following is how you make concrete leaves for you garden or other outdoor area.
What you’ll need for the project: Play Sand (I stole ours from the sandbox), Concrete (I used a small pre-mixed batch of Quikrete typically used for patch jobs), Putty Knife, Leaves, Paints (if you want to decorate your leaves) and Gloves (optional, but probably a good idea when handling the concrete)
Cost: Inexpensive. I spent less than $5 on this entire project and that was for the Quikrete. Everything else was around my house.
Spread some fine play sand on your work surface. I used some scrap wood and did the project in my garage since I wasn’t sure how messy the concrete would be. Lay your leaves face down on the sand. The more veins in the leaf the better. My boys and I picked our leaves during a bike ride around town.
Len suggested to mix cement and some of the sand with water and and hardening agent. I didn’t want to get into mixing cement, so a nice employee at my local home store suggested the Quikrete. Next, place the glop of wet concrete onto the leaf about 1/4 – 1/2 inches thick, contouring it to the edge of the leaf.
Here, you can put a makeshift wire bent into a hook into the wet concrete so you can hang the leaf. Without a hook, you can still lay it in the garden or prop it up against a surface. (We went without a hook.) My kids are 2 and 5, so I handled the concrete while they supervised.
Len suggested letting the concrete harden for two days. I noticed that the moisture from the leaves made the cement stay a bit pliable even after a couple days. So, I peeled the leaves off and left them for another day. Once they are hardened, you can file the edges of the dry leaf to smooth out the edges. (We left ours more rugged.)
Now for the fun part! We transported our hardened concrete leaves to our art room, broke out the paints and decorated our new garden art.
At this point, the boys were excited to get their hands on the leaves and add their personal touches.
I went into our cabinets and used the small bottles of acrylic paints we had in so many colors. Some even had some glitter!
Once your leaves are dry, it’s time to display them in your garden or other outdoor area. We chose an area that doesn’t grow flowers well due to heavy roots underneath.
Voila! Funky concrete leaves for your urban garden.
Have an urban garden project of your own? Please share!