Colored concrete stepping stones can be made by coloring premade plain concrete stepping-stones or by adding color to the concrete used to make stepping-stones. The colors available are unlimited, no matter which method is chosen, and allow you to customize the concrete stepping-stones for your landscape. Mix colors to add visual interest for an informal path or use exact measurements and straight geometric shapes for a more formal setting.
Make Precolored Concrete Stepping-Stones
In a large bucket, mix the desired amount of concrete pigment powder into the dry concrete with a hand shovel.
Add water according to package directions and blend the water in thoroughly until no dry powder remains. Use slightly less water for pour-in-place molds so the concrete can be poured and shaped like clay, without using a mold. Use the recommended amount of water if using a mold or pouring into a form on the ground.
Smooth the top of the concrete with a trowel or a section of two-by-four. Use a concrete edger to smooth the corners of the concrete. Sharp concrete corners can cause serious cuts.
Allow stepping-stones created in a mold to dry for 24-hours before removing from the mold.
Dye or Stain Premade Concrete Stepping-Stones
Place the stepping-stones in a well-ventilated area on newspaper or heavy paper so the dye or stain overspray does not damage the work surface.
Stir the concrete dye or stain with a paint stirrer until thoroughly blended, with no visible swirls in the mixture.
Apply thin, even coats of concrete dye or stain with a paintbrush or small pump sprayer to the top and sides of the concrete stepping-stone.
Rake the area where you wish to place the stepping stone walkway to remove gravel and twigs from your work area.
Set the stepping stones into place on top of the grass, to assist you in finding exactly how you wish to place the walkway and how far apart to set the stones. Walk across the stepping stones to ensure they are spaced properly for the various strides of your household members. Though stride length varies, an ideal measurement for the distance between stepping stones is between 10 inches and 14 inches.
Push the spade into the ground directly around each stepping stone, outlining each stone before lifting the stone out of place. Use the grooves punched in the ground to guide you in removing only the amount of sod necessary to place each stone.
Set the stones into their corresponding areas and tamp each stone down into the ground by stepping and walking on the stone. Make sure the stone sits directly against the ground and does not wobble or lift under foot traffic.
Acquire or make your mold. Molds for concrete statues and stepping-stones can be purchased online. Some vendors are Olde World Stone & Tile Molds, themoldstore.us; HistoryStones.com, and MoldCreations.com. If you are making a stepping stone, a bucket or plastic container will also work well.
Lubricate your mold using vegetable oil or oil soap. Use a paint brush to apply lubricant to corners and detailed areas.
Mix the ready-mix concrete according to its instructions. AceHardware.com recommends ready-mix concrete for small jobs because it is inexpensive and only requires water. At this point you can also add concrete pigment as desired.
Pour the concrete into the mold then gently tap and shake the mold to get rid of air bubbles.
If you are making a mosaic stepping-stone, gently press the tiles, marbles, shells, glass or ceramic pieces into the concrete, making sure they do not sink below the surface.
Allow the concrete to set for 24 hours.
Carefully remove the statue or stepping-stone from the mold. According to LandscapePlanet.com, the concrete will require an additional 48 hours to fully dry after removal.
Seal the concrete with a concrete sealer according to the instructions. This step is optional, but it will protect your art from mold and corrosive materials.
Plant grass between stepping stones in a lawn or edging a lawn. Grass is easy to care for and trim, and will provide a secure anchor for stepping stones. Whether your stepping stones are made out of rocks, concrete, wood or any other materials, grass is a beautiful buffer between them. This type of planting will not require special care or watering, and offers a relatively low-maintenance options for most home gardeners.
Arrange stones or pebbles in between stepping stones for a truly maintenance free solution to what to plant between any variety of stepping stone. River bottom stones, pebbles and even small rocks like lava rock offer a nice backdrop to all kinds of stepping stone materials. An occasional raking or leveling is usually all that is needed for maintenance.
Brick is also a maintenance-free solution for what to place between stepping stones, though time and planning and cutting bricks to correct shapes may take a little time. However, brick will set off concrete or pebble-type stones to perfection, and will last for years with little fuss or muss. Bits and pieces of flagstone laid out in mosaic-like patterns between round or square stepping stones will also add a nice focal point to a stepping stone path.
Low-growing ground covers like bunchberries, wild strawberry and ground ivy are perfect solutions for gardeners who don't want to plant grass between stepping stones. These ground covers will more than likely grow slightly above the surface of the stepping stone, and with weekly trimming, offer a wonderful three-dimensional appearance to your stepping stone path. Other plants like creeping baby's breath, mondo grass and creeping phlox are also ideal.
Tape plastic over areas that you do not want to get wet. These areas may include electrical boxes, plants and wires.
Sweep the dirt and dust off the pavers with a broom. Look for stains and discoloration on the stones.
Place the pressure washer hose close to the paver stones. This will ensure that you have enough pressure to wash all the dirt and grime off the stones.
Move the hose from left to right over the stones. Start form the top or bottom of the stone, and work your way to the other side. Use a steady and small motion to blast the grime away.
Spray the stones in one long motion from along the length of the pavers. Keep moving the hose in this motion to remove lingering residue from the stones. Take care to move the hose along with the grain or grooves of the stones.
Move the pressure washer along the cracks and edges of the paver stone. This will remove any dirt and grime that builds up along the sides to help keep the stones in good condition.
Grease the heart-shaped cake pan. Stepping stone manufacturer GardenMolds refers to this lubrication as “mold release” and suggests using safflower or canola oil. The company website, Gardenmolds.com, instructs painting the inner surface with the oil then using paper towel to remove any excess.
Combine the ready-to-use concrete mix with water in a bucket. Follow the instructions on the bag for measurements. GardenMolds recommends adding the water slowly until the material reaches the thick consistency of brownie or muffin batter. Mix well each time water is added.
Fill the cake pan half way with concrete. Shake the pan to remove air bubbles. Completely fill the pan and shake it again.
Cover the cake pan with plastic wrap and store in a cool place. Allow the concrete to set for two days before removing the heart from the mold.
Remove any existing plants or shrubs in the garden area. You can leave the turf grass.
Place a crucifix at the entrance of the garden. This can be a plaque on a wall, if the space is walled. You can also use a piece of crucifix statuary or a decorative garden stone shaped like a crucifix. You can also place statues of guardian angels on either side of the garden entrance.
Install a statue of the Virgin Mary in the center of the garden. The statue should be large enough to be seen from every part of the garden.
Place five large, square stepping stones in a circle around the Mary statue. Space them evenly. These represent the five decades of the rosary.
Lay five small, round stones between each of the larger stones to complete the circular walkway. Space them evenly between the larger stones. These represent the smaller beads of the rosary.
Select flowers to plant around the walkway that are color representations of the four Mysteries of the life of Christ. Purple flowers represent the Luminous mystery, yellow represent the Glorious mystery, red represent Sorrow and white flowers represent Joy. The flowers should be cold hardy for your zone and be rated for your soil composition.
Plant the flowers around the walkway, leaving a 4-foot space between the walkway and the flower garden. Place small seats or benches in the space for meditation.
Cut the hardware cloth slightly smaller than the mold, using scissors, and set aside.
Mix cement according to package directions. For a rough texture on the stepping stone, add pea gravel as desired. If the weather is extremely cold, use hot water. In extremely hot weather use cold water, or add ice cubes to the mix. Mix the cement to a batter consistency.
Pour half of the mixture into the mold.
Place the hardware cloth that was set aside on top of the poured cement.
Pour the other half of cement in the mold. Gently tap the mold on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles that will compromise the strength of the stepping stone. Allow the stepping stone to dry for at least 48 hours before removing it from the mold.
Remove the stone from the mold. Place one hand on the open side, turn it over and the stepping stone should fall out of the mold automatically. If not, tap on the mold gently to release it.
Set the foot-shaped stepping stone in flush with the ground to avoid tripping.