• UO DIY: Cement Planters

    It's spring! What are you planting? We're taking a new season as an opportunity to get green...literally. And for all of you fellow succulent hoarders whose problem is getting a little out of control (we're guilty of having turned our living rooms into kind of a plant jungle), here's an easy, eco-friendly DIY project for housing them all: cement planters. Before you get intimidated about, you know, mixing concrete — trust us. It's easy, uses literally two ingredients, and is the solution for putting recycled containers to work that you already have at home. Roll your sleeves up, and here we go. 
    Photos by Michael Persico

    What you need:
    - Quick concrete (you can get this at any hardware store, typically by the lumber or construction materials). We got two 10-pound bags and it made a LOT.
    - Water
    - Wooden mixing tool
    - Bucket/plastic mixing container that you can get messy
    - two sizes of plastic or paper containers (think: empty yogurt tubs, paper cups, plastic to-go containers, etc.) Scour your recycling bin and get creative: planters can be made in virtually any shape, so don't feel limited by making something that sticks to the typical planter form. You will need two containers for each planter, one that will form the outside mold and one that the plant will sit inside, so be mindful of size when selecting your containers.
    - oil-based cooking spray (optional, see notes below!)

    Step one: mix your concrete
    Set everything up on a surface you don't mind dirtying up. Start by combining the dry concrete with water (the ratio is roughly three parts concrete to one part water). 

    We recommend mixing it little by little, combining as you go, otherwise it gets really tough to stir! 

    Stir until the concrete is mixed and the lumps are out. If it's not perfect, it will create little air pockets that slightly change the texture of the final product (which actually looks really cool, but just be aware of it). 

    This is the consistency it should be when you're done. 

    Keep adding/stirring until you have enough to fill the container you want to use about halfway. Depending on the type of container you're using, you might want to grease it like you would a cake pan, using nonstick cooking spray: the basic paper/plastic containers we used popped right out without spraying them first, but if you're using something different consider spraying it just to be safe. 

    Then, using your mixing stick to guide it (or a spatula works well here too), pour the mixed concrete into the mold. Don't overfill it — about halfway is best. 

    Next, get your second smaller container and place it firmly in the center of the mold. This is where the plant will go so you want it to be symmetrical! Depending on how light your cup/container is, you may need to put a little stone or something weighted inside to secure it in place.

    Repeat the process with your remaining containers and let sit overnight. The next day, pop the containers out and your planter is complete! If the edges are rough you can use a piece of sandpaper to smooth out as needed.

    When they are dried and as-is, they'll be a minimal dark gray, but customizing them with paint is basically the best part of the whole thing. We spray-painted these with metallics and neons to give it some pop — sky's the limit here! 

    Finally, time to get planting: add in potting soil little— if it's a plant or succulent that's going to require a lot of watering, put a handful of gravel at the bottom to help with drainage.

    Now arrange them in your window and give them out to your friends — your new go-to for bringing nature in.

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