How to Make Concrete Garden Markers + Free Printable
* You’ll find affiliate links in today’s post to help you access some of the supplies you might need for this project.
Hi there–I’m so glad you popped by! It’s that time of the month when my fellow Thrifty Chicks and I share projects based on a special challenge. The challenge for today is GARDEN, and I know you’re going to find a fantastic idea or two to try out for yourself.
A while back, I bought a concrete garden marker kit at a thrift store for a dollar. It contained everything necessary to make small garden bricks with words on them. Such a perfect combination of two very fashionable decorating trends–words and concrete. Unfortunately, the kit itself is no longer available. Bummer, right? But I’ve provided some similar products in my blog shop under Craft Supplies, so you can easily make some of your own.
The general process for making these rustic little bricks is pretty straight forward, but there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind that I’ll tell you about along the way. Sound good?
Some of the basic supplies you’ll need: Cement (the quick variety), letter stamps for concrete, a trowel, and brick forms.
What to do if you don’t have forms and don’t want to buy any? I’ve seen people use small loaf tins (spray them with Pam first), as well as one pint half and half cartons. In both cases, however, you’ll need to leave the bricks in the containers until mostly dry before you can remove them (thus the need for the non-stick spray).
To make terracotta colored bricks, you’ll need some concrete dye. For this project, I used the powered concrete tint on the left.
After you’ve assembled all of your supplies, you’ll need a hard surface to work on and something to cover it with (I used a cafeteria tray covered with wax paper).
[I don’t recommend cardboard, which is what I used the first time around, because there’s water in the concrete and it will leach into the cardboard and create an uneven surface, which may result in cracking. Trust me, I know.]
To make one small brick (2″ x 4″ x 1″), I measured just over 1 cup of concrete mix and added 1/2 tsp of terra cotta dye. To make one larger brick (2″ x 7″ x 1″), I measured just over 2 cups of concrete mix and 1 tsp of dye.
Slowly add enough water to create a mixture the consistency of soft ice cream. (Stir well with your trowel to ensure the dye mixes evenly into the concrete.)
Fill your mold, making the “brick” level with the top of the mold. Smooth off the surface with your trowel and tap the sides of the mold to make it more level. For my first brick, I made the concrete too watery and had to wait almost an hour before I could imprint it with the letters.
Can you see how water is pooling on the left side of this brick. That means it’s not dry enough to impress with letters yet. To get ready for impressing the letters, line them up above the mold so you can see where you want to place your first letter.
This is an example of what happens when you place your letters in cement that’s too wet. After removing the letters and the form, it kind of squashed in on itself and then eventually cracked. So sad.
Here you can see the concrete is much drier. Because I made it thicker (like soft ice cream), I only had to wait a few minutes after pouring for it to be dry enough to impress with the letters. You can tell it’s ready when a toothpick is poked into the top and the hole seems dry. If it doesn’t fill in, then your brick is probably ready for letters.
Clean off the edges of the mold and remove it after placing the letters. You may need to push down on top of the brick (on each end) to facilitate mold removal. Wash your supplies outside, since the concrete could mess with your pipes.
I used the smaller, blue letters for the “GROW” bricks. As you can see, both the letters and the brick itself are holding their shape nicely. Let your bricks air dry for 48 hours, and then sand any sharp edges or little bumps with your sanding block.
You can tuck them into planters.
Or place them in your garden areas.
Wherever you choose to place them, they will certainly add some rustic charm.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit my very special, Thrifty Chick girlfriends to see their thrifty garden projects. You won’t regret it!
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This is a craft I have been wanting to try. I will be following the tutorial and see what I can do. The bricks are a great idea and add so much interest to the garden. Great project.
You definitely should try it Debra! It was a lot of fun 🙂
I love these, Diana! And kind of fun to “play in the mud”! Great tips so we can try it for the first time, too!
Yes, it’s very much like playing in mud, Lora–glad you enjoyed the post 🙂
Those are so cool Diana!
Diana, I might want to get letters that say “BUG OFF!” for the deer, gophers, squirrels and insects!
Thank you for this tutorial – it looks really fun.
Ha ha, that’s so funny, Jana! We’ve got quite a few bunnies that nibble at everything they can. They’re so cute to watch, but I’d love them to “bug off,” LOL!
Clever idea! When I have a garden again, I will certainly try it out. Thanks a lot!
Thanks Karen! They were fun to make and with satisfying results 🙂
Now here’s some garden markers that would be perfect for my yard! Love this idea, Diana and I even have a lot of the supplies in my stash to make them 🙂
I’m so glad you like them Marie!
Absolutely fabulous! I love herbs and making unqiue garden markers for them. This project is being pinned for a future DIY!
Thanks SO much for the pin, Amber, and I’m so glad you liked the project 🙂
Looks like a great project! Have you tried your handprint with a heart inside yet for the Shaker shop?
Oh my goodness–what a great idea, Kathy!! You are an absolute idea-machine 🙂
Fabulous project Diana! I would love having word bricks here and there in the garden. So fun!
Glad you like the idea, Tuula!!
I received one of these at a plant swap, but never got around to trying it. Now that I’m dismantling my garden beds, I guess I should pass it along to someone else. 🙁
🙁 or make them as gifts?!!
I love this project! Thanks for sharing.
I’m so glad, Virginia! You’re welcome 🙂
My son gave me the same kit years ago. I’ve been using it for several years to make custom order stones in my Etsy shop.
I bet they’re popular, Cecilia!
I love these! You are so talented. I was patting myself on the back for using pre-purchased plant markers! Don;t I feel silly, now? 🙂 xo Kathleen| Our Hopeful Home
Awe, you’re so kind, Kathleen 🙂 No, you’re not silly–sometimes we craft and sometimes we buy, LOL.
I love it! Will certainly give it a try!!
So glad you liked it Jann–lovely to hear from you 🙂
I Love your idea but where I can find in Europe this letters to put on the concrete?
I would look on Amazon Manuela 🙂 Good luck with your search–