These unique garden stones are as easy as frosting a cake.
By Bruce Wiebe, Lakeville, Minnesota
These fun to make stepping stones are easier than they look!
Make just one of these "cake-frosting" steppingstones and you'll be hooked. Success is guaranteed when you follow these simple (pardon the pun) step-by-step instructions. Best of all, you'll recapture the mud-pie-making joy of childhood.
The items you can use to make these one-of-a-kind disks are limited only by your imagination—or by whatever you stumble across around your house. There are those leftover tiles, the seashells you collect on your winter vacations, even that can of old keys. So take a creative leap: Make one steppingstone, and you may have so much fun you'll fill your yard and garden with them.
Lay Out Your Design
Anything can make a cool mosaic pattern—tiles, glass beads, wood letters, polished rocks, found objects, buttons, and yes, even those old tools, nuts and bolts you bought at a garage sale. Whatever you're using, arrange it first on a dry steppingstone alongside the stone you're covering. Then you can simply transfer and position items without guesswork.
Get in Step - Create a Stone!
One big advantage of using this moldless system is that you can make lots of stepping-stones without multiple forms or having to wait for the concrete to harden so you can reuse one form.
- Precast 12-inch-diameter steps with pea-gravel surfaces
- One 60-pound bag of Quikrete mortar mix, enough for about 12 stepping-stones
- Cement dye (Quikrete liquid dye comes in buff, brown, terra-cotta, charcoal and red)
- Ceramic tiles and other mosaic pieces
- Odds and ends: Large rounded-edge sponge, wide putty knife, duct tape, dust mask, plastic bucket
To create your steppingstones, remember to apply the duct tape so it creates a "form" a smidgen deeper than the thickness of the objects you're laying in.
Step 1: Make your "mud" by first mixing dye and water together in a plastic bucket. Then, while wearing a dust mask, add mortar mix to the colored water. Stir, adding enough mortar mix to create a smooth-textured mortar that isn't runny. Before applying mortar, use a sponge to thoroughly wet the precast stone's upper surface.
If you mess up, just pull out the tiles, smooth the mortar and start over.
Step 2:After the mortar mix firms up—usually in 15 to 30 minutes—pull off the tape edging and, holding the sponge at a slight angle, brush the mortared edge to lightly round it over.
Step 3:That's it. Cure your stones for a week in a cool corner, stockpiling them as you make them through the winter. Then put them to work in the yard or garden for year-round service. The mortar won't crack because it is manufactured with gazillions of microscopic air pockets to absorb water as it expands.