Attract feathered friends to your garden with a homemade concrete birdbath.
Craft a concrete birdbath using a large leaf as a mold.
Photo by Camilla Arvidsson
A concrete birdbath is a simple way to add a small water feature to your garden. Think of it almost as a garden mirror. Experiment with different molds (in the case of the project below, our molds are leaves) and think about areas of your garden where birds might like to take a dip.
Birdbaths can be large or small, square or round, flat or slightly deeper like small bowls. Place these little mirrors on the lawn, amid a carpet of lilies, in the shadow of a tree or under a beautiful rose bush, so that falling petals land and float on the surface of the water.
Concrete birdbaths are not difficult to make—find directions below. Larger ones can be a bit trickier, so take extra care when lifting a large, freshly cast bath to ensure it does not crack. You can never have too many birdbaths—fill any simple dish with water and you have one! Remember to top them off with a watering can now and again, as shallower ones will dry up more quickly.
To make dishes or birdbaths in the shape of a leaf, it is best to make your own mold out of grit or coarse sand. Find a flat, level surface and make a pile of grit or sand about the same size and shape as your preferred leaf. Moisten the grit or sand with water so that it holds together. Oil the leaf and lay it underside-up on the mound of sand or grit, then pour the concrete carefully onto the leaf to make a “dish” of the required thickness.
For birdbath molds, use large leaves from plants such as rhubarb or thistle. For smaller water features, try leaves from hostas, hollyhocks, lady’s mantle or coral flower. Using grit or sand as a leaf mold will give the concrete a slightly rougher, more textured finish. Don’t worry if any sand or grit sticks to the concrete, as it can be brushed off later.
A tightly packed mound of grit or coarse sand dampened with water makes a steady base for casting a leaf-shaped dish or bowl. Get out into the garden or ramble through the countryside to find a good leaf to use as a mold. We chose a giant hosta leaf for this project. See the Image Gallery to view accompanying photos to each step.
You will need:
• fine concrete
• grit or coarse sand
• a leaf
• a paintbrush
• a nail
• a trowel
• a stone or a file
1. Start by building a mound of grit or sand that is roughly the same shape as the leaf and dampen it to make it firm.
2. Place the leaf on the mound of grit or coarse sand underside up so its veins are showing. Oil leaf with paintbrush.
3. Mix the concrete and cover the leaf with an even layer of it. Try to keep an eye on where the edges of the leaf are, helping to ensure a neater finish.
4. Pack concrete all over the leaf. Stick a nail into the concrete to ensure that it has a uniform thickness all over.
5. Leave the concrete to set for 4 to 5 days, depending on the size of your project. Remove leaf carefully and file down dish’s edges, using stone or file.
6. The leaf should have left a clear impression in the concrete, making a pretty dish or water feature.
Taken from Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features & More (c) Copyright 2011 by Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson. Published by Timber Press, Portland, OR. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
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