Transforming your garden into a personalized and uniquely inviting space can be as simple as adding customized, homemade garden stones. Hand painted garden stones can add an air of whimsicality to a garden bed and handmade, keepsake stepping stones offer a sense of legacy and nostalgia. Adding either (or both!) to your garden creates a story written in stone, a visual depiction of your values and personality.
Why Garden Stones Add Value to Your Garden
The specifics of creating DIY garden stones are fairly simple, and we’ll cover them in a moment, but nailing down your intention for the stones before you begin adds a jolt of life to your end product.
Purposes of Garden Stones in a Modern Era
Stones have been used in gardens for millennia, serving both practical and religious purposes. Here are some ways they continue to be used within gardens of modern-day western culture.
Celebration of Identity
Garden decor can be a powerful tool in celebrating heritage, cultural identity, and legacy. Envision an urban school garden that incorporates its logo, mascot, and school colors into the garden, or an Irish family that celebrates its roots by designing their garden to reflect Celtic imagery and proverbs. Curating a garden to reflect heritage and identity converts a space from simple garden production to a tangible form of storytelling through which a family or student can connect their story to a much larger one.
Stones of Remembrance
Using stones as a reminder of the past is not a new concept. In ancient Israel, the prophet Samuel erected an ebenezer, or “stone of help”, as a permanent reminder of God’s mighty intervention during a time of desperate need. Even today, we honor our loved ones with eulogies etched in tombstones and create DIY garden stepping stones with children as a keepsake reminder of their toddler-sized hands.
This alone makes creating garden stones worth your time if you have even the smallest interest in doing so! Their quirky aesthetic and visual interest adds delight to any space and can work wonders in creating a unique theme or atmosphere for your garden!
Now that you’ve identified your “why” behind adding personalized stones to your garden, let’s look at some ways you can easily add personalized pizazz to your garden this week!
Garden Stepping Stones
DIY garden stepping stones are often created as meaningful gifts and valuable keepsakes. They provide deeply personal value in a garden for adults and children alike. When a child sees a garden stone she decorated herself with tile and marble, the stone becomes a tangible, concrete reminder that she is welcomed and valued within your garden. When an adult sees tiny handprints preserved in concrete, rich nostalgia provides powerful memories of moments past.
Hand painted garden stones
Hand painted garden stones are a delightful way to incorporate imagery and visual interest in your garden, and they are easily customizable to any space. Is your garden frequented by children and young families? Paint whimsical designs, bright colors, or visual representations of a crop grown in the garden. Are you a creative professional who tends a garden as a hobby? Showcase your artwork on stones and use them as a marketing tool to promote your business. Whether your garden design is carefully ordered or joyfully eclectic, decorated garden stones provide valuable visual interest within your space.
While some people’s brains prefer imagery and visual symbolism, others lean toward the written word. If art just isn’t your thing (raising my hand here!) write or etch words of significance on garden stones and scatter them liberally throughout your space. Write words of welcome, hope, and peace. Words that speak toward your vision for the garden, dates of significant life moments, or favorite cities you’ve visited on your travels. You’re looking for words that inspire you. Whatever is true, whatever is pure and lovely, whatever is excellent or sparks gratitude…write these things on your stones.
Creating Garden Stepping Stones with Children
Creating keepsake stepping stones with children is an experience often viewed through rose-colored glasses after completion. However, I’m here to tell you that writing your child’s story in stone is an investment that is well worth the effort! Here are some tips to maximize the fun inherent to making personalized garden stepping stones.
Knowing upfront that there is a good deal of work involved in the process makes the reality much less stressful. Set the scene before inviting those little hands and feet that you are excited to sink into cement to preserve forever. Prepare tables with plastic tablecloths or newspapers and arrange all of your supplies beforehand. Mix the cement and pour it into the molds…all of this before inviting the little ones to join you for their art project. They won’t be able to start decorating until the cement starts to set, so they truly aren’t missing any of the fun.
There are premade kits and DIY options available for creating your own garden stepping stones. I’ve used the Michaels premade kit in the past, but my next attempt will be the DIY route! The premade kit offers the convenience of the necessary supplies being sold together, but the quality of those supplies is rather lacking and the final stone is quite small. Going the DIY route gives you freedom to choose the shape/design of your stone, allows you to customize the decorations, and will save you money if you plan to create more than 1-2 stones. For making your own DIY garden stepping stone you’ll need the following:
- A mold into which you pour your prepared concrete mixture (plastic plant saucers work well for this!)
- Glass gemstones, shards of tile, decorative stones and (if you’re feeling fancy) some letter stamps to decorate your work of art.
Once you’ve prepared your space and yourself, it’s time to play! Invite your little ones to the table and show them all the beautiful supplies they can use to make their stepping stone their very own masterpiece. Remind them that although some of the decorations may look like candy, they are not to be eaten, nor are fingers to be licked should cement get on them.
If you wish to have a handprint or footprint in the middle of the stone, encourage your kiddos to decorate the border of the stone first. Handprints and footprints best hold their shape toward the end of the cement’s setting process, so consider leaving those until the end for best results!
After decorations have been placed and any footprints/handprints added, immediately wash any skin that came into contact with the cement. Little ones are prone to sensitive skin and the cement mixture can aggravate even the hardiest of skins with prolonged contact.
When the stones have dried and cured, allow the children to put them into the garden with you. They will often have an opinion as to where they should be placed, even if that opinion doesn’t make much sense to adult ears! Using discretion, allow their input and honor their choices regarding the placement of their stone within your garden. After all, this stone is something more than mere garden decoration- it is a physical connection between your child’s creative heart and the goodness of the garden.
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