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How to: DIY Typographic Concrete Garden Art

I am having so much fun playing with cement. It's such an inexpensive material and there are so many possibilities for projects. I also love the durable, rough nature of cement. Something about it's raw look and feel adds a cool, relaxed feeling to your decor. It's definitely not a pretentious material.  

I love having a little splash of decor outside my home to give folks an idea of what might be going on inside. These fun BOO garden stakes add just a hint of fright to my yard for Halloween. I'm not big of the gory and super scary this time of year, so these playful letters are just right for me.

How to: DIY Typographic Concrete Garden Art

Click through to see the full how-to, so you can create some custom cement garden stakes for your yard.                  

 

Photo: Jeran McConnel

Photo: Jeran McConnel

Here's what you'll need:

  • Rapid Set Cement
  • Container and plastic spoon
  • Gloves
  • 1/2" Copper pipe
  • Pipe cutter
  • 6" cardboard letters (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)
  • Scissors
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 Start by removing the back of the cardboard or chipboard letters.  This can be done simply by cutting a small hole in the back of the letter and then tear away the entire back of the letter.

Next, cut your copper pipe to length. Mine are 2 1/2" feet long. But depending on the foliage in your flower beds, you may want them taller or shorter. Pipe can be cut very quickly with a pipe cutter. This inexpensive tool, is kind of fun to use. You simply tighten the tool around the pipe and then turn the tool around the pipe a couple times, tighten it a little more, then turn again, and like magic, it cuts through the pipe like butter. 

Then you will need to cut a small 1/2" cut at the bottom of the letter to make a space for the copper pipe to fit.

This next step seems really odd, but it totally works.  Spray an even coat of non-stick cooking spray on the inside of the letter. This will prevent the cardboard from adhering to the cement and will make removing the mold very easy.

Now you can mix the cement.  I suggest only mixing enough cement for one letter at a time.  This cement is dries very quickly and it can become hard to work with if it sits too long.  Following the package instructions, which is 4 parts cement to 1 part water, mix the cement to a nice smooth milkshake like consistency.

Fill the letter with the cement. Be sure to tap the letter a few time to remove any air bubbles or pockets.  Also be sure to pack the cement around the copper pipe well.

Allow the cement to dry at least 30 mins. before removing the cardboard mold.  It will not be completely cured yet, but it will be easier to remove the cardboard while the cardboard is still a little wet. 

Allow the cement to completely dry for at least 24 hours before putting the stakes in the ground outside.

You can really spell out any message for your garden. This summer I made wooden HI stakes, but these cement and copper ones will probably hold up to the sun and weather a lot longer.

Photo: Jeran McConnel
Photo: Jeran McConnel

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Derek on Oct 12, 2016:

I love this post! I am having problems with my cement letters cracking right were the pipe is. I am using 1/2" copper pipe and 8" letters from Hobby Lobby. Any tips or suggestions? I am using Portland Concrete for this project.


Monica on Oct 02, 2015:

I believe she said Hobby Lobby is where the letters came from
Great tutorial. Very detailed. I make vases out of concrete, I never thought of the letters. I am thinking of painting them orange and black. I wonder what type of paint so it adheres and won't run when it rains
Humm?
Thank you


Stacey on Sep 30, 2015:

were did you get the letters?


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