4 DIY Concrete Projects to Transform Your Backyard

May 15, 2024

Changing your backyard or garden into a personal oasis or a space for family gatherings doesn’t have to be expensive or daunting. With some creativity and basic materials, you can create DIY concrete projects that enhance the look of your outdoors and add a touch of personal flair.

Getting Started with Concrete

A row of DIY concrete planters with various flowers.

Whether you’re looking to create decorative planters, unique garden benches, or even custom pathways, starting with the right foundation – concrete – is key.

Basic Materials for DIY Concrete Projects

Most DIY concrete projects require the following:

  • Quick-setting concrete: Ideal for most crafts and small projects, this type of concrete sets quickly, allowing you to move forward with your project without long waits.
  • Molds: Your imagination is the limit. From commercially available options to makeshift ones from household items, molds shape your project.
  • Water: Necessary for mixing with your concrete to activate its binding properties.
  • Mixing containers: Buckets or large tubs can serve as mixing areas. Just ensure they’re large enough to combine materials thoroughly.

Choosing the Right Type of Concrete

Your choice of concrete impacts not just the aesthetic appeal of the finished project but also its structural integrity and longevity. Below are detailed considerations for selecting the ideal concrete mix for various projects:

For Crafts and Decorative Items:

  • Quick-setting concrete mixes: Brands like Quikrete offer specially formulated concrete mixes that set quickly, usually within 20 to 40 minutes. These are ideal for crafting projects that don’t bear loads but require a quick turnaround, like decorative sculptures, vases, or coasters. The fast setting time allows for rapid demolding and finishing, making it a favorite among DIY enthusiasts.
  • Lightweight concrete: Consider lightweight concrete for items that need to be moved frequently or hung. It incorporates lightweight aggregates to reduce the overall weight without compromising strength.
  • Colored and textured concrete: Some projects may benefit from pre-colored concrete or designed to create specific textures. These mixes can enhance the aesthetic without the need for painting or sealing.

For Structural Projects:

  • High-strength concrete mixes: High-strength concrete mixes are recommended for projects that require significant structural integrity, such as garden benches, retaining walls, or pathways. These mixes achieve 6,000 psi and above strengths to ensure durability against physical stress and environmental factors.
  • Crack-resistant and fiber-reinforced concrete: To minimize the risk of cracking, opt for crack-resistant or fiber-reinforced concrete mixes. These products include micro synthetic fibers or larger fiberglass strands to enhance weight-bearing strength.
  • Concrete for extreme conditions: If the project is exposed to severe weather, consider using concrete mixes designed for extreme conditions. This includes air-entrained concrete for freeze-thaw resistance, waterproof or water-resistant mixes for wet environments, and heat-resistant concrete for areas exposed to high temperatures.

Additional Considerations:

  • Workability: Some projects require concrete that’s easier to work with, offering longer working times or more fluidity for pouring into intricate molds. Look for mixes that offer high workability or extended setting times for these.
  • Environmental impact: Eco-conscious builders might look for eco-friendly concrete options, such as those that incorporate recycled materials or have a reduced carbon footprint.
  • Cost-effectiveness: The cost of concrete can vary widely based on the type and specific properties. While specialty mixes offer advantages for certain applications, they may also have a higher price tag. When making your selection, balance your project’s needs with your budget.

4 DIY Concrete Project Ideas for Your Backyard

We’ve compiled a few easy DIY concrete projects perfect for your garden, backyard, or outdoor space!

Concrete Planters

A single DIY concrete planter with flowers in a yard.

You can create concrete planters in two different ways: using containers or fabrics.

Concrete Planter Using Containers

  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Mixing container
  • Two containers of different sizes (consider using buckets, bowls, or plastic containers)
  • Weights (stones, sandbags, or similar to keep the inner mold in place)
  • Lubricant (cooking oil or a commercial release agent to coat the inside of the mold)
Step-by-Step Guide:
  • Prepare your molds: Select two containers, one larger than the other. The space between the two will determine the thickness of your planter’s walls. Apply a thin layer of lubricant on the insides of the larger container and the outside of the smaller one to help the mold release after drying.
  • Mix the concrete: Following the package instructions, mix your concrete in a separate container. Aim for a pourable but not too runny consistency.
  • Fill the outer mold: Pour the concrete mix into the larger container, filling it to about halfway or the desired height of your planter.
  • Create the cavity: Gently press the smaller container into the center of the concrete-filled larger container. Make sure it’s centered to create uniform walls for your planter. You may need to add weights to the smaller container to keep it submerged and in place as the concrete sets.
  • Remove air bubbles: Tap the sides of the outer container gently to release any trapped air bubbles. This step is crucial for achieving a smooth finish on your planter.
  • Let it dry: Follow the instructions for curing time, but allow at least 24 to 48 hours. The curing time will depend on the planter’s size and the environmental conditions.
  • Remove the mold: Once the concrete has fully cured, remove the inner and outer containers.
  • Finishing touches: Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper and rinse the planter to remove dust.

Concrete Planter Using Fabric

  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Mixing container
  • Fabric (like old towels or burlap)
  • Mold (consider using old buckets or large bowls for shapes)
Step-by-Step Guide:
  • Mix the concrete: Following the instructions on your concrete package, mix the concrete in your container. Aim for a thick but workable consistency.
  • Dip the fabric: Fully submerge your chosen fabric in the concrete mix, ensuring they’re thoroughly coated.
  • Shape the towels: Drape the concrete-soaked towels over your chosen mold, shaping them as desired. Get creative with folds and creases!
  • Let it dry: Allow your planter to dry completely – usually 24 to 48 hours – depending on weather conditions.
  • Finishing touches: Once dry, you can paint your planter, apply sealant for a glossy finish, or stencil designs.

Ideas for Customizing:

  • Experiment with different sizes and shapes by using various molds.
  • Add color to the concrete mix for tinted planters.
  • Incorporate patterns or textures by pressing objects into the wet concrete.

Stepping Stones

Several DIY colored stepping stones in a backyard.

You’ll craft individual pieces using molds and add personal touches with colors, textures, and embedded items for a custom walkway through your garden or yard.


  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Mixing container
  • Stepping stone molds (commercial molds, large leaves, or homemade shapes)
  • Lubricant (cooking oil or a commercial release agent to coat the inside of the mold)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Prepare the molds: Choose molds that fit the style and size of the stepping stones you want. Apply the lubricant to ensure easy removal from the concrete molds.
  • Mix the concrete: Following the manufacturer’s instructions, mix the concrete in your container to a pourable consistency.
  • Pour the concrete: Fill your molds with the concrete mix, ensuring it’s evenly distributed. Gently tap the molds to release air bubbles and ensure a smooth surface.
  • Let it dry: Allow the stepping stones to dry in the molds for at least 48 hours or as the concrete manufacturer recommends. Curing times may vary based on local environmental conditions.
  • Remove the mold: Carefully remove the stepping stones from the molds. Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper if needed.
  • Install in your garden: Arrange your stepping stones along the desired path. They can be set on top of the grass, embedded into the soil, or placed on a sand base.

Ideas for Customizing:

  • Use leaf molds or real leaves for natural-shaped stepping stones with organic textures.
  • Embed colored glass, ceramic tiles, or stones into the concrete before it sets for unique designs.
  • Experiment with geometric molds or interlocking shapes for a modern pathway aesthetic.
  • Add glow-in-the-dark paint or stones to the mix for stepping stones that light up the path at night.

Concrete Orbs

Three DIY concrete orbs in a rock garden.

Create concrete orbs for your garden using spherical shapes like round molds or balloons.


  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Round molds or balloons
  • Mixing container
  • Thin gloves (for handling the concrete mix if using a balloon)
  • Lubricant (if using a mold)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Prepare the mold: 
    • If using a balloon, inflate it to the desired size of your orb.
    • For solid molds, apply lubricant to facilitate easy demolding.
  • Mix the concrete: Combine the concrete and water in your container, following the package instructions to achieve a thick, workable consistency.
  • Apply or pour the concrete:
    • For balloon molds, put on your gloves, dip your hands in the concrete mix, and apply it to the balloon’s surface, covering it evenly.
    • For solid molds, pour the concrete into the mold, tapping it to release air bubbles.
  • Let it dry: Allow the concrete to dry for at least 48 hours, or as recommended by the manufacturer. The curing time might vary depending on the thickness of the concrete and environmental conditions.
  • Remove the mold:
    • For balloons, gently deflate and peel away the balloon.
    • For solid molds, carefully remove the mold.
  • Finishing touches: Sand any rough spots for a smooth finish. If desired, apply sealant to protect the orb and enhance its appearance.

Ideas for Customizing:

  • Embed colored glass pieces, pebbles, or mosaic tiles into the orb’s surface before the concrete sets.
  • Mix coloring agents into your concrete for tinted orbs that complement your garden’s color scheme.
  • Use different sizes of balloons or molds to create a varied collection of orbs.
  • Incorporate patterns or symbols by imprinting objects into the wet concrete.

Garden Bench

A DIY concrete garden bench in a garden.

To create the concrete garden bench, you’ll utilize wooden forms and rebar to construct a durable and aesthetically pleasing outdoor seating area.


  • Concrete
  • Water
  • Wooden boards (for the mold)
  • Rebar or wire mesh (for reinforcement)
  • Mixing container
  • Lubricant (to coat the inside of the mold)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Build the mold: Use wooden boards to construct a mold for your bench. Design the mold to reflect the desired size and shape of your bench. Apply lubricant to the interior surfaces to ensure the concrete does not stick.
  • Prepare the reinforcement: Cut rebar or wire mesh to fit inside the mold. This will reinforce the concrete and prevent cracking. Leave enough space from the edges of the mold to ensure the reinforcement will be entirely covered by concrete.
  • Mix the concrete: Follow the package instructions to mix the concrete in your container. The mix should be pourable yet thick enough to hold the reinforcement materials in place.
  • Fill the mold: Pour the concrete filling in the corners and sides. Add the rebar or wire mesh for reinforcement, then continue to fill until the mold is full. Tap the sides of the mold to release any air bubbles.
  • Let it dry: Allow the concrete to cure as directed on the packaging, typically for at least 48 hours. Curing time may vary depending on temperature and humidity.
  • Demold and finish: Carefully remove the bench from the mold. Sand any rough edges for a smooth finish. Allow additional curing time if necessary, especially before applying weight to the bench.

Ideas for Customizing:

  • Personalize the bench by embedding tiles, stones, or glass pieces into the concrete before it sets.
  • Stain or paint the bench after it’s fully cured to match your garden theme.
  • Carve or etch designs into the sides of the bench mold for a textured effect.

Tips and Tricks for Working with Concrete

A trowel mixing a bucket of concrete for a DIY project.

Achieving the best results for your outdoor concrete projects requires knowledge of some key practices for mixing, molding, and handling concrete. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you work with concrete like a pro.

Best Practices for Mixing and Molding Concrete

Achieving the right consistency: The consistency of your concrete mix is vital for the success of your project.

  • The consistency should be similar to peanut butter – not too dry or soupy. This ensures that your concrete is easy to work with while maintaining its structural integrity once dried.

Avoiding air bubbles: Air bubbles must be eliminated when pouring concrete into molds since they can weaken the structure and affect the appearance.

  • Gently tapping the sides of the mold after pouring can help release trapped air.
  • Using a vibrating table or tool for larger projects can ensure a more uniform and bubble-free project.

Curing time matters: Concrete needs time to dry properly. Drying times can vary depending on the type of concrete and environmental conditions, so patience is key.

  • Keep your project undisturbed and adequately moist for at least 48 hours.
  • Covering your project with plastic sheeting can help retain moisture to ensure a stronger final product.

Safety Tips for Handling Concrete

Protect your skin: Concrete is caustic and can cause skin irritation or more severe chemical burns if direct contact occurs.

  • Always wear long sleeves, gloves, and protective eyewear when working with concrete.
  • If the concrete does come into contact with your skin, wash the area immediately with soap and water.

Respiratory protection: The dust from the dry concrete mix can be harmful if inhaled and potentially cause respiratory issues.

  • Always mix concrete in a well-ventilated area.
  • Consider wearing a dust mask or respirator to protect your lungs.

Lift safely: Bags of concrete mix can be heavy and awkward.

  • Use proper lifting techniques by keeping the bag close to your body and using your legs to lift it.
  • If a bag is too heavy, ask for help or use a wheelbarrow or dolly to move it.

Guidelines for Maintaining Your Concrete Projects

Several concrete planters in a backyard.

Proper maintenance and care are essential for ensuring your concrete projects’ longevity and aesthetic appeal. Here are some guidelines and seasonal care tips for maintaining your concrete projects.

Regular Maintenance and Upkeep

Clean routinely: To minimize staining or damage, spills, and debris should be cleaned immediately. A stiff bristle broom and garden hose can effectively remove dirt and grime for general maintenance.

Seal concrete: Applying a sealer every 2-5 years can protect concrete from weathering, staining, and wear.

Repair cracks: Filling cracks prevents water from seeping in and causing further damage (especially in freeze-thaw cycles).

Limit weight: Be mindful of the weight placed on concrete surfaces. Excessive weight can cause cracking and compromise the integrity of concrete features.

Avoid harmful chemicals: Certain chemicals, including de-icing salts, can deteriorate concrete surfaces. Use alternatives or minimize their use to protect your concrete from chemical damage.

Seasonal Care Tips

Spring: Inspect your concrete features for damage caused by winter weather. Clean surfaces thoroughly to remove debris and stains accumulated over the colder months. It’s also an ideal time to reapply a sealant if necessary.

Summer: The hot summer sun can dry out concrete quickly. Check for cracks regularly and repair them promptly. Consider installing shades or covers for highly exposed areas to prevent excessive heat stress on your concrete features.

Fall: Prepare your concrete for the cold months ahead by ensuring it’s clean and sealed. Remove leaves and other organic materials that can stain or damage the surface when decomposed.

Winter: To prevent chemical damage, limit de-icing salts on concrete surfaces and use sand for traction instead. If possible, shovel snow off concrete paths and features to reduce the risk of freeze-thaw damage.

Get Creative with Simple DIY Concrete Projects

Embracing DIY concrete projects allows you to customize your outdoor space and provides the satisfaction of creating something lasting and beautiful by hand.

Now get ready to roll up your sleeves and bring your concrete project ideas to life. Happy crafting!

Quikrete, Concrete Mix, 60 lb

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Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix 50 lb.

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