Stepping Stones, part one

So, Pam, from the comments, asked me how I made the stepping stones.

(Well, she DID. Don't look at me like that.)

And it's actually kind of timely because you know those ones I was making last week? They didn't turn out. I've never had that happen before. But apparently, if you mix up a batch of concrete stepping stones and the weather drops below freezing before the concrete hardens, the water in the concrete freezes and the stepping stones crack. It got down to 22 here the night I made those (which won't happen today because right now, it's (are you ready) EIGHTY-TWO degrees here) and so not a single one of them turned out.

I made another one today, though. Just one, in case my theory isn't correct and it's really that my concrete has gone off. (If that's possible. I mean, it's not like... milk or something. There isn't an expiration date or anything--I checked.)

So just in case, you, too, have a cow dog who has obliterated the very idea of grass growing in your back yard and you've decided just to pave the whole thing, here's what you need to do.

First, buy some concrete. Now, you can just buy perfectly premixed boxes of concrete at your local craft store but if you have a large area to pave, this will require you to take out a home-equity line of credit. OR you can just use the 40% off of one item coupon from the Sunday paper each week, in which case it will take you approximately five years to build your walk way. I wanted to build larger than standard size stones so I went straight for the sixty pound bags of this: Note the name of this --Sand Topping Mix-- because this is important. If you mess up and just buy regular concrete mix, it has GRAVEL in it and this does NOT make for a smooth stepping stone, nor is it easy to mix up. Don't ask me how I know this but just trust me. Use the sand topping mix.

So then you pour this into a bucket that you are not planning on using again once this project is finished. It comes in handy to have a pool and have to buy chemicals for it in large buckets but you don't have to install a pool to get one of these. (Whew!) When you are buying your concrete, you can pick up a bucket for mixing at the home improvement store.

You add water and mix it up until it is the consistency of thick brownie batter. If you add too much water, your decorations will sink to the bottom so go easy until you're mixing it up and can see the lines of your spoon in it after you've swirled it around.

You can also pick of various shades of concrete color which looks like this: This costs more than the concrete itself and is NOT a necessity. Unless you dislike the look of gray concrete. In which case, buy this stuff by the case because you will be using a LOT of it. I could only find the green color at the craft store in tiny packets and it's pretty expensive so we used it as sort of an accent color.

(I'm just dying to throw in some HGTV terminology about how the "green just pops in the space." The effort to NOT do so is making my brain explode.)

Anyway, now choose a form. I used a lot of plant saucers. In fact, the biggest stepping stones I made were from this Burpee little seed starter tray. They look like this: And if you turn them over, you can see the Burpee insignia!

But I used all kind of things:

Lean Cuisine Trays

Organic Lettuce Containers
I even used some Velveeta boxes, but these were less successful because they absorbed water and disintegrated.

I will say that the bigger molds make the best stepping stones. They are easier on the feet and easier to lay out in a walk way. If I had it to do over again, I'd stick to the biggest molds I used, the Burpee thing and very large round plant saucer.

So, now comes the fun part--decorating! Only, I'll have to cover all of that in my next post because Blogger is being all bloggy about the number of pictures I have in this one.

And how come my spell checker won't work anymore? Anyway, more later. Dang Blogger.


Amazing, the things we become expert in...
Ei said…


Mmmmm....'k. We had about six inches of snow today. Anyone want to go groundhog hunting with me?

Those are lovely, and it might be a cool thing for me and the boys to personalize our yard, even though it isn't really ours.
DK said…
I'm so glad you said that, because I haven't been able to get the frakkin' spell check to work in two days. Stupid Blogger. Don't they KNOW how poorly I spell??

I love Quikrete.

Oh, and pnonzce. It was my verification word, but, it seemed like a little word all its own. What do you suppose it means?

I hate call.
My spell check doesn't work either! God forbid I actually have to check what I write!

We have no stepping stones around our house but we do have a pool and a lot of buckets. It's a start, right?
Suna said…
My back yard has no grass (too many trees and 4 dogs). So this looks good.

And as DK an Pen mention, the spell checker thing is not just you. Grr.
Pam said…
I'm back -- and THANK YOU! I am printing these directions and although it's 72 today here in your nation's capitol, the temp will drop again so I'll wait until true spring to try this. And thanks for the tip on the concrete -- which is kind of why I asked how to make these. B/c we have about 10 bags of the other concrete in our garage (b/c my husband cannot estimate worth a damn) and I think they've gotten wet b/c they weight a lot and I wanted to use them but now I can't. Whew!
I love this project! off to read the second post....