Crafts Especially For Gardeners and Birdlovers

Terracotta and Cement Garden Decor



"Aging" Terra Cotta 
Garden pots and sculptures
If you'd like the terracotta to look aged, add moss to the outsides
I saw this aging technique several years ago, on a curb-appeal show. 

These look great in a natural or rustic landscape. 

I like when moss grows naturally on terracotta and i have never removed it. 
Pick some moss from your yard if you have it, and break into small pieces. I haven't used dried or preserved moss, so i can't attest to it being appropriate
Place the pieces in a plastic container,
stir in yogurt or buttermilk. To make a quickie buttermilk if you don't have it - Mix regular milk with a little vinegar. 
your pot in random spots with this mixture. of moss and milk.  
Display the pot in a shady spot in your yard or garden or keep on a covered porch out of the elements. 
If you're putting plants in it, choose plants that like shade or indirect sunlight.

Don't use this techniques on items that will be holding water or will be part of a landscape exposed to the weather.

Frog and Toad Homes

Frog or Toad houses are easy to create and are inexpensive, as opposed to the decorative specialty type you can buy. And they are eco-friendly.... Unfortunately, due to damage to our environment, i haven't seen many frogs or toads in my northern gardens in years. I had several in my southern garden. But i'm hoping....invite the toads where you want them and they probably won't dig in the flower beds. Toads should be encouraged to eat garden insects.

Buy inexpensive, unglazed clay can get them inexpensively at flea markets, garden centers may toss chipped or cracked pots out. You might have a few damaged clay pots laying around in the shed or yard.

Take a tile nipper and chip out an opening along the top edge part of the flower pot. it's not supposed to look pretty, and the hole should be around 3 inches wide and probably the same height. Set the pot upside down in the garden, in a sheltered area not easily seen by predators. Set them among ground cover that's under taller foliage plants or shrubs.

You can paint them with outdoorpaints if you wish to decorate, but the natural look of the clay looks great in any garden. I seem to break many clay pots, so i have a pretty good supply of material. I set clay saucers that come with some pots near near the toad homes. They will gather rainwater to drink and is also handy for them to grab drowned bugs. Unglazed terra cotta absorbs moisture and keeps the house cool inside. If you live in a freeze zone, store them in the indoors in the winter to prevent cracking.

You may also want to keep it away from pet and roaming cat areas. My dog used to look for them once she knew they were there. It won't end well. Place your toad home behind a little fence panel. There's nothing to protect them from your pets if they hop around. I had a frog that came out at a particular time. I'd look for him and move him before i let my dog outside.


Inexpensive Garden Birdbaths/Butterfly Puddlers

I saw a photo of plain terra cotta flowerpot birdbaths and i realized that the supplies are always around here somewhere. 
Note: if you live in an area that freezes, be sure to store your birdbath parts and other pottery or glass bowls indoors so that they don't crack. 
Been there.... and it gets expensive when you've done that.

These are easy to store in the winter in the colder climates. Just carefully pull the pieces apart from each other. Iff you like the look of old terra cotta that's been in the outdoors for a while, purchase an outdoor oil based stain in colors to brush/wipe off quickly and haphazardly to add an aged look. Browns, greens, aquas all work nicely.If you do paint your pots, you will  need outdoor grade paints and you'll have to seal them with outdoor grade polyurethane.


2 or 3 glazed terra cotta flower pots in graduated sizes - Sizes that will sit snugly on top of each other upside down.
One Large,one med, sm etc.

1 large terra cotta saucer that usually goes with really large flower pots ( which will require several coats of an outdoor or oil-based polyurethane waterproof coating on the inside if it's not glazed when you buy it - to keep water from soaking into the water bowl. Or a 1 large, glazed colorful pottery serving bowl, shallow.You'll only keep the maximum 2 or 3 inches of water in the birdbath.Wait for the large,colorful pasta and rustic serving bowls to go on sale at department stores or stock up at flea markets and yardsales.. These are perfect for creating birdbaths and butterfly puddlers.You don't want the bowl at the top to be made of much heavier material than the stacked pots can hold without risk of cracking once water adds weight on the base pieces.

Optional: Clean aquarium gravel, colored glass or polished pebbles for the inside of the bath. Add stones, mulch, broken china or tiles,  or shells to decorate the area at the foot of your birdbath.

Turn your bowl upside down, and apply a hefty amount of  any waterproof super-glue or cement adhesive all over the bottom of the smallest flower pot..which is what's going to hold up your bowl.Set the flower pot rightside up on top of the bowl (your bowl is upside down, the flower pot will be set onto this right-side up).Let this dry thoroughly, according to the label instructions.

Turn the large pot upside down in a spot in the garden.Carefully push it a little bit into the ground around it if you wish, if the ground isn't exactly even, or set the first pot onto a flat tile or stone.Do not push the remaining pot or pots hard over the one underneath it, or you will definitely break one.

Slip the next smaller size over it if using more than two flower pots (you can make your bird/butterfly baths 2 flowerpot heights tall -vary them and the bowl sizes, and display in different areas of your garden).

Lift the bowl and the pot that's glued to it together carefully, and set this last flowerpot with the bowl attached over the flowerpot on your base.

Add water and stones to help pollinators stand on dry land.. Add sugar water or sponges soaked in sugar water, along with fruit that's "going over". Note:  I have bad luck with the sponge and fruit thing because wasps, flies and bees want it. I do hang bird suet baskets filled with orange slices and soft fruit, and most times, i don't have to deal with flies that congregate on the sponges.

You can find a birdbath cleaner solution to add to the water to keep it clear between cleanings. I have so much pollen and algae around my gardens, it's sometimes a chore to keep them clean during the growing season.


Terracotta flower pot wind chimes

Plain and simple, blends into your landscaping. They have a lovely, soothing tibetan sound to them. 
They make really neat holiday gifts for birders and gardeners, as well.


Pick up some inexpensive, small clay pots used for seedlings. these can be purchased in bulk from nursery suppliers online or on ebay. 
Some large craft stores and home centers have clearance on these items in the fall. I buy them 
at the dollar store every spring for small succulents or seedlings, and they're perfect for making chimes. I
 use 3 or 4  small clay pots in graduated sizes. I tend to use the smallest, not large, graduated size pots for the whole chime.
The smallest sizes the better. Use heavy outdoor twine.

A 1-inch diameter wooden bead, 
rubber washers larger in diameter than the pots' drainage hole.

Cut about 36 inches of twine. The amount depends on how many pots and the sizes you'll hang for your chime, 
but you don't want it longer than about 36 inches. The little pots are heavier on the branches than you think. I don't really care for regular twine, as it eventually degrades and breaks. I've used colored cords and outdoor types of plant-tying  twine.

Put the twine through the bead and knot it.

Tie another knot about an inch or two above the bead.

Slip the washer over this knot. This will keep the knot from accidentally slipping through the hole

With the other end of the twine, slip the smallest pot onto the twine. Eyeball where to make the next knots
 - you want your pots to overlap onto each other by a little bit  (otherwise you won't hear them chime)

Add a washer over this knot. Add the next bigger pot over this knot.
And do the same for the largest of the pots.
Make a loop at the top to hang. I use an "s" hook over the branch or fence to hang it from. 

All breakable windchimes are best hanging freely from branches in a protected place in your garden or on the porch overhangs. On days with high wind, i recommend that you take these down so that the twine doesn't snap and the pots won't bang into each other and break. Since the pots have holes and don't hold water, i've had no problems leaving them out all winter. But taking them in is always better that they're protected from cracking.



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