Homemade garden stepping stones are the perfect way you can personalize your space. Use them to create a walkway through your flower beds, or create a path to cut across your yard. You can even create a stunning patio area by placing several together.
They’re easy to personalize as well, since you can decorate them any way you see fit. In fact, with so many interesting and fun ways to create different stepping stones, you can even make keepsakes of your child’s hand or footprints and place them out amongst your roses. (They also make great gifts for loved ones.)
DIY garden stepping stones are also incredibly easy to make. Purchase a kit to simplify the process, or just pick up the supplies you need and create your own to save a few bucks. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to know to do it yourself.
The Supplies You’ll Need:
Before you can start designing and creating your garden stepping stones, you need to collect the materials and supplies to do so. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A bucket
- Hand trowel or paint mixing stick
- Rubber gloves
- Old newspaper or a drop cloth
- Nonstick cooking spray or petroleum jelly
Plus, of course, you’ll need the three most important materials to create stepping stones: a mold, concrete, and embellishments to decorate your creations.
Start by finding the mold at your local craft store. This is especially important if you want to create more challenging stepping stones in unusual shapes like a hexagon. You can also make a more simple circle, rectangle, or square stones using a mold you make out of everyday household items. Things like old cake tins and cereal boxes are perfect for a one-time-use project.
In fact, nearly anything works as a mold. As long as the object is smooth and able to release the stone after the concrete sets, you can use it. Plastic containers work nicely in my experience because the stones pop right out. You can also line a cardboard box with plastic wrap before spraying it with a releasing agent and use that as a mold.
Various types of concrete exist, and some come with large chunks of gravel for added strength when creating sidewalks or house frames. Finer concrete mixes don’t have these gravel pieces, so they’re better for making your own garden stepping stones. This will offer a smooth finish and hold onto the decorative embellishments you use. Rather than use just any type of concrete, a quick-setting concrete will dry faster.
You can buy a quick-setting concrete in multiple places. If you want to make a set of stepping stones in a large garden, a 4 or 8-pound bag from your local home supply store should do the trick. On the other hand, for only a few smaller stones, you can purchase a bag of stepping stone concrete from your craft supply store.
Finally, ready-made concrete is another popular option. This type is commonly used in small batches to help you complete home improvement projects. As a result, it makes it easy for you to whip up a batch to make a few stones and save the rest of the bag for later. However, it is a more expensive option.
No matter which type of concrete you choose to use, you’ll need to hand-mix the concrete. The instructions on the bag are helpful, and you’ll need a bucket or a wheelbarrow to mix it in. You can use a hand trowel or a paint mixing stick to stir the mixture.
To personalize your garden stepping stones, you’ll need some interesting and colorful decorative pieces. If you’re creating the stones with children, you can always create imprints of their hands or feet, but you should also include some other options to keep them busy.
There are so many different types of decorative pieces you can use to create patterns and mosaics, such as:
- Sea glass
- Small seashells
- Broken pottery pieces
- Small toys
- Dried flowers
1. How to Make Your Own Stepping Stones
Start by collecting the supplies you need. Then, put down the old newspaper or a drop cloth to add a layer of protection you can work on. It’s best to complete this project outdoors due to the messy nature of the job.
Next, add a releasing agent to your mold: a nonstick cooking spray such as Pam or petroleum jelly works well. Line the releasing agent around the mold, coating it thoroughly.
Mix the concrete, following the instructions for the type you use. Measure out the amount of concrete you need, pour it into your bucket, and add in some water. Mix thoroughly, but make sure the mix is looser so that you can easily pour it into the mold. For this project, the concrete mix should feel similar to the consistency of wet sand and you should be able to hold it in your hand.
You can use a hand trowel or a paint mixing stick to churn the concrete and a bucket or wheelbarrow to hold it. Make sure that whatever you use, you don’t mind throwing it away. The concrete isn’t likely to come off later. During this step, you may also want to wear proper safety equipment such as safety goggles, dust mask, and gloves. You can also protect your clothing with an apron or rain poncho.
Pour the concrete into your mold, and allow it to sit for at least an hour. If you’re making a larger stone, you may need to add in a layer of chicken wire at the halfway mark. Pour half the concrete, place the piece of chicken wire into the mold, and continue pouring the other half of the concrete over the wire. This will add more stability, prevent cracks, and help your stone last longer.
Then pretty them up…
Now, you can begin to add in the decorative embellishments of your choice. Gently press them into the concrete and allow the stone to sit in the mold overnight.
You can also create what’s called casts or impressions of objects in the concrete without having to leave them there. As mentioned, hand or footprints are popular, as are natural objects like flowers, leaves, or seashells. For this method, you wait until the concrete is nearly dry. Once it starts to set, you can press objects into the nearly dry concrete to leave an everlasting impression.
Pop the stepping stone out of the mold after around 24-48 hours. Allow the garden stepping stones to cure and dry for around two weeks, and then you can place them into your garden.
Other DIY Garden Stepping Stones Tutorials
To spark your inspiration, I’ve included a few of my favorite DIY garden stepping stone tutorials online. Use them for inspiration to spark your creativity.
2. Round Hopscotch Stepping Stones
In this tutorial on How to Make Hopscotch Stepping Stones, you can create a fun path that also works as a hopscotch court. Kids love this project, and all you need are some decorative rocks to create the numbers.
3. Square Leaf Prints
This gorgeous tutorial includes the alternative option of making impressions into the stones rather than leaving objects in the concrete. You can make them from materials in your recycling bin too. Learn how to make an easy leaf imprint stepping stone here.
4. Large Leaf Casts
Rather than finding a large-sized mold that looks like a leaf, you can use real leaves to make your stones. This inventive method is much different than the above directions but surprisingly easy enough to do-it-yourself. Learn how to create garden stepping stones from leaves here.
5. Glass Garden Stepping Stones
Upcycle broken pieces of glass or find little pieces of sea glass to create your own stunning stones. In this tutorial from Tanya at Lovely Greens, you’ll learn all the steps to complete this project.
Don’t have any decorative embellishments to use, or unsure what pieces you want to add to a stepping stone? Skip the objects and head straight to this tutorial from Haeley at Design Improvement on how to make stenciled stones instead.
7. Textured Stepping Stones
Similar to the previous tutorial, this option from the Mizelle Group is a stenciled method that doesn’t require you to add objects into the concrete permanently. If you have an object that offers great texture, however, you can use it to imprint the stone. This DIY tutorial uses a textured rubber doormat to create the pattern.
8. Paw Print DIY Garden Stones
If you’re a dog lover, this is the project for you. This fun paw print garden stone tutorial at Instructables shows you step-by-step instructions on making your own. Name each step after a loved furry friend and then use them to create a pathway in your garden.
9. Pebble Mosaic Garden Stones
Pebbles and other small rocks make perfect embellishments for garden stepping stones. In this tutorial from Fine Gardening, you can learn how to create your own DIY pebble mosaic stones. You may want to plan out the design ahead of time for this project, however, and allow for more time to place each stone in the right position.
No matter which option you choose, you’re certain to create an enchanting, memorable pathway to enjoy for years to come.