Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Small Cement Patio Pots DIY

My most recent DIY project was making some of those sturdy cement planters that look so good on a patio.  I have no experience with this material, so i thought best to start small.

I did some research on the web, and learned that some fine and light medium like vermiculite is often mixed into the cement to keep the finished container from being too heavy.  Not liking to spend money on anything i can find for free, i gathered up the dried husk of pecan nuts (very light, and brittle, pulpy stuff) from under my trees, and hammered them to bits, mostly smaller than about 1cm.  I selected plastic containers like pop bottles and the thin black containers you have left after transplanting nursery plants, and paired them up so that i could imagine about 1 inch of cement between the two.

Working outdoors, I poured about half the 40 lb bag of cement into a pail, and added my pecan husk bits (~4 cups). I decided to add water to the cement based on consistency, rather than actually measuring out the dry mixture and the water, and this seemed to work out alright--i just added enough water, mixing between additions, to reach a consistency that would settle without air pockets when i jiggled the pail.

I scooped the cement mixture into the bottom of one container, filling it about half way, and then bounced it gently on the ground to settle out any bubbles.  Then i put the inner container into this container and wiggled it slowly down to about an inch from the bottom of the outer container, trying to keep it centered for evenness of wall thickness.  I usually had to spoon a little additional cement in to top up the walls, i tapped the sides a bit to settle the new cement, and then leveled the top of the cement a bit, if required.

I filled four containers using this pail of cement mixture.  I let the containers sit outside for 24 hrs, and then pealed the plastic containers away from the cement.  In places you could see a dark mahogany colored stain where the pecan bits leached a little.  Only one of the four pots was soft enough for me to drill drainage holes in the bottom--i'm thinking that if i had taken the forms off a little sooner and drilled, i would have had more success making holes.

A week later, i got around to painting a couple of my new containers with house paint, and filling them all with little plants.  They range in size from about 6-9 inches tall, and I think they look pretty nice.  I will keep my eyes out for suitable forms because i would really like to try a much bigger container next.

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