Get your DIY on with “Concrete Garden Projects”

by Fern on October 24, 2011

in Frugal Container Gardening,Product Review,Reviews

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While emailing recently with my publisher (Timber Press), I discovered they had just published a new book called Concrete Garden Projects by Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson. The cover had such cute star-shaped containers planted with spring bulbs that I knew this was a book I wanted to read. Luckily Timber was willing to oblige my book lust and sent me a copy to review.

I’ve written about many ways to convert found objects into containers (flour sifters, wine boxes, portable BBQs…), but I don’t think I’ve ever tried making my own container “from scratch.” Enter Concrete Garden Projects. Though the book isn’t limited to containers, authors Malin and Camilla also have ideas for making your own built in BBQ tables, potting tables, water fountains, and more.

The majority of the book is filled with “inspiration,” lots of different ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The authors introduce the concrete object, give you a brief overview of how to make it, tips for customizing it, and ideas on how the piece will weather outdoors. Each idea is accompanied by at least one large, beautiful photo. Many of the author’s ideas have several photos or a two-page spread. They also share different techniques for adding texture, color, or embedding little treasures in your concrete creations.

The last quarter of the book shows you how to work with concrete to make the ideas in the first part of the book. The “how to” section has lots of step-by-step photos to help you understand how to complete each project.

I am definitely going to make the shoe scraper door mat. I’ve long needed something near the door from my balcony into the condo, but I could never find something the right size. Now I can make one that is to my own specifications. Of course, I also plan on making several of the different pot ideas, as well as some stepping stones for my work garden. It’s hard to keep the list of projects I want to try from the book realistic (unless I want to dedicate every weekend of 2012 to concrete casting–which is sounding better and better). I really like several of the bird bath ideas and the modernist bench. The tea lights are cute, as are the tic-tac-toe board and hanging garden ornament. Ugh. See why I’m already blocking out weekends in 2012?!

All-in-all, this is a great book. I have only two tiny quibbles. The authors recommend making holes in containers meant for plants, but suggest that it’s possible to create a pot without a drainage hole and merely put some clay balls in the bottom to keep the plants in the pot from rotting. In my opinion, all pots must have drainage holes unless they are the self watering variety. My second gripe–and again, these are such minor issues–is that there is a photo with a hens-and-chick (Sempervivum) succulent cutting floating in a bird bath. It looked adorable, but why would anyone float a drought tolerant plant in water?

Anyway, don’t let these two little complaints from me prevent you from enjoying this book, I’m just trying to keep it real. I know my copy will be well used and probably covered in flecks of concrete.

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I received Concrete Garden Projects for free to review from Timber Press. To read more about my review policy, click here.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve October 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm

This looks like an awesome book! The star shaped containers look really neat and easy to make! Thanks for the info, Steve.


Fern October 27, 2011 at 10:43 am

I agree Steve! They are what attracted me to the book too.

Candy Suter October 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I ordered this book right away! Super idea and cheap fun. And pots are getting so expensive now days. And I’m with you should always put a hole or holes in your planter pots. Duh!!!!! What are they thinking?


Fern October 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Thanks Candy! :-)

Genevieve November 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Fern, I agree – I loved this book! And the quibble about the clay balls is one I had as well. There’s no dickering around with drainage! Plants need it! But loads of fun inspiration here. I only wish concrete garden projects were easier to ship as gifts! :)


Matt Corrion June 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Wow, this is really cool! It would also be a good way to use your left over concrete from footings for fence posts or mailbox posts (both projects which I’ve done this year).


Rosana August 17, 2012 at 4:53 am

Muito bom. adorei, Parabéns pela iniciativa.




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