Last summer we replaced our old patio with this Leaf Casting one. It used to be made of flat ledge stone, but it was overgrown with weeds and grass, so I wanted something different.
This is how I accomplished the look:
My son was putting up a shed and having concrete poured, so we had them order a little extra for our project. First, I laid out my plans on paper. Then, Gary and I framed up the slab with 2x4’s in a sort of pentagon shape. I say sort of, because we worked the tree in the back into the design. To finish out the frame, we used flexible landscape edging around the tree. [I later put that part back in to keep the dirt and plants from encroaching onto the slab.]
When they got done pouring Al’s concrete, they came over and poured our slab. We had to work fast, because they had put an additive in to make it dry faster. Anyway, once it was poured and smoothed out, I quickly placed all my previously cut leaves in the places I had set forth in my plan. The leaves I used were: rhubarb, burdock, ferns, cattails, and some leaves I found along side the road. The leaves had to be pressed firmly into the concrete and I lifted them up a little just to see if they were impressing well.
It was a windy day, so the ferns did not work out well, but you can still see the impressions somewhat. The cattails were disappointing, which surprised me, but I guess they weren’t stiff enough, so I just “drew” in the cattails with some kind of handle. Being that there had been an additive in the concrete, we were able to take the leaves off within a couple hours, so they did not dry into the concrete and came off nicely.
We let the concrete cure for 21 days and then painted the slab first with Rustoleum Concrete Stain in Burnished Gold. The color came out way too yellow for our liking, so I sponged brown acrylic paint over all except the leaves. That looked much better. On the leaves, I sponged 2 different colors of green, and used brown for the top of the cattails. When this dried, we sealed it with concrete sealer.
I made stepping stones for the side by creating a form with landscape edging. To do this, I just bent the edging into a “circle” and fastened with a couple of bolts. It naturally formed a teardrop shape, which is what I was looking for. I place the forms on a bed of sand and filled with concrete I had mixed up from a bag. I made this kind of stiff and then placed a leaf into each form to cast my leaf. After these cured, I painted them in the same manner as the slab.
I also made Leaf Casting Planters by using an old plastic pot that was cracked and using spray adhesive to adhere leaves to the sides. Here I used cedar leaves and various smaller leaves. I placed an old pail in the center and filled in between the two with concrete.I used a plastic wand from old mini blinds that I cut into smaller pieces to place for drainage holes. Again I painted them in the same manner as the slab. They turned out rather well, but heavy as the dickens!
The leaf rug is cut from a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting. I did use some Gorilla Tape just to reinforce the stem and tip, to keep them from curling. It has stayed on through one winter well.
It has gone through one winter and still looks good; maybe better, ‘cause it has some age look to it from dirt and such. The only problem is the willow tree it is under. Willows are very dirty trees, dropping leaves and branches all the time. Oh well, you gotta have shade!
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