An inviting stepping stone path serves as both a functional walkway and a decorative landscaping element. Ready-made stepping stones are available at most garden centers and home improvement stores. However, they can be expensive. You can make your own stepping stones using concrete shaped with simple molds. A wide variety of stepping stone molds are available. Molding your own stepping stones can help you save money and create one-of-a-kind-garden accents.
Stepping stone molds come in handy for several purposes in the garden. Some molds are used to create garden art with stones including glass, pebbles or other embellishments. Other molds are used to make heavy-duty stepping stones for weight-baring walkways.
Manufactured molds come in many styles. Free-form designs mimic real stone. Uniform geometric shapes or molded images of animals, leaves and other motifs offer a more sculpted look. Some molds are designed to create faux cobblestone or brick walkways. You can also make your own stepping stone molds using a variety of materials including metal sheeting, wood or foam. Simple plastic containers or sturdy boxes lined with sheets of plastic also make good stepping stone molds. You can make a free-form faux stone mold simply by digging a level, irregularly shaped depression in the dirt and lining it with plastic.
The purpose of the stepping stone will help determine an appropriate size for the mold. Small, dinner-plate-sized molds are useful for making decorative paths or individual art pieces. These are often 1 to 2 inches thick and about 9 to 12 inches in diameter. If you intend to make a heavy-duty, frequently used pathway, consider a larger, deeper mold. These should be at least 2 inches deep and at least 12 to 24 inches wide. The depth allows for thicker, stronger stones that hold up better to frequent foot traffic. The greater width or diameter creates a path with a comfortable stepping distance between and onto stones.
Manufactured molds are widely available from hardware stores, home centers and landscape retailers. Several online retailers also specialize in garden molds. Some of these resources also offer extensive educational materials to help do-it-yourselfers learn concrete-casting techniques.
Unless you are making a single stepping stone for garden art, durability is an important concern. Concrete work is tough on molds. If you are making a path, make sure the form is sturdy enough to hold up to several uses. A higher priced mold may actually save money if it is more durable than a lower priced option that needs to be replaced before your project is finished.