DIYdiy projects

diy project: shannon’s concrete garden spheres

by Grace Bonney

one day when i’m lucky enough to have some outdoor space in which to garden, i hope to be able to fill my green space with decorative elements that i make with my own two hands. so when i heard from shannon from design gal, i was excited to find out about her handmade decorative elements. using some quick-dry concrete, $3 glass light covers from a thrift store, and a little non-stick cooking spray, shannon created these beautiful garden balls. the possibilities are really endless with this project- if you’ve got the space to work with concrete, you can easily find all sorts of different light covers that would give each ball a different look and style (it certainly makes me look at cheap light covers in a new way). shannon has been kind enough to share her project steps with us, so be sure to click “read more” below to view the full post. click here to check out more of shannon’s work on design gal.

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump!

Decorative Concrete Garden Balls, by Shannon of Design Gal

What You’ll Need:

-Quick-setting concrete (you can buy a bag or bucket of this at your local hardware store or Home Depot/Lowes)
-Lighting covers (try a thrift store or hardware store for cheap options) Make sure there are no cracks in them or they will break when you fill them with concrete!
-Non-stick cooking spray
-Small garden shovel
-Safety Glasses + Gloves (for when you break away the glass)


1. Spray the inside of the lighting covers with non-stick cooking spray- it helps in breaking the glass away from the ball at the end!

2. Set the glass ball in a pile of dirt or sand so that it can’t roll away while you’re filling it and as it’s curing.

3. We used a quick setting concrete found at most hardware stores. I like the ones with fine gravel. Pour the dry mix in the bucket (we poured about 1/2 the bag in) and then add water until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter…or maybe a little bit runnier. You don’t want it too runny, but not too hard either. Play around with it!


4. Use a small garden shovel to fill the balls. After every scoop, give the ball a shake or twist to help it settle and break up any air bubbles.


5. Fill the ball to the top and try to make it as level as possible. We had a little bit extra so I used an old baking pan to make a little stepping stone & used gravel (from our soil- it’s so rocky!) to make the heart pattern (see shannon’s post for heart pattern piece).

6. Let the balls sit for at least 24 hours to set up!

7. When the concrete has turned light, use a hammer to lightly tap the glass and break away pieces off the concrete ball. Make sure you wear gloves & safety glasses so you don’t injure yourself! Throw away the glass and you’re done!

The balls will be heavy, so be careful when you lift them! They add great detail to your garden and they’re so easy!


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  • Clever! I totally love the fluted one. The bases make me think of all kinds of applications. I wonder if you used smaller fixtures if you could make concrete finials for garden walls? Running to home depot!

    • alyson

      here’s a site with tips on coloring and adding texture to cement:


      but you could always prime and paint them i think. just make sure you prime a lot first because the concrete is so porous. but maybe i’m wrong- has anyone tried to paint concrete before?

      i know i had a little concrete slab that a friend gave me (from the drive way of their old house, long story) and we painted it hot pink and it stayed ;)


  • What a great idea! Come to think about it just about any container with an interesting shape could work as a form. The possibilities are endless!

  • my husband and me are working in our backyard, and this would be a great thing to think about adding!!

    There is ever colored concrete now, but it’s a little bit more expensive. The colors could really add an unexpected pop!!

  • Most large hardware stores carry concrete paint meant for painting patios and other outdoor spaces so I would think that could be applied here. What a fun project! What else could I fill with concrete…?

  • Someday I’ll have a back yard (click heels)…someday I’ll have a back yard (click heels)…someday I’ll have a back yard (click heels)!

  • My daughter sent me this because it reminded her of something I do. I have several half burried bowling balls (with the holes down) in my garden. People are constantly telling me how great they look and it’s a great way to recycle. I just picked them up at garage sales, and they are very colorful!

  • Thanks for this post, I love it! Now all day I ‘ll be daydreaming on and off about what else I can use as a mold. I wonder if you put a balloon in the middle if it would make it lighter by setting around it…. fun!

  • I wish people would stop posting these amazing ideas – I just don’t have the time ;-)
    But seriously, this is such a great way to get inexpensive concrete features. I am thinking now about doing this with my kids one day. Apart from the glass smashing bit, of course!

  • This idea is so versatile!! At my old rental, we had extra globe light fixtures lying around. ARghh… Good thing they’re cheap. I love the minimal look to them.

  • i agree with sophie. i don’t have the time, but i keep making time… this could very well start me on a long string of quick-rete projects.

  • hmmm…these are great! I like the ideas of painting, coloring or better yet acid etching the concrete for different effects.

    I wonder what it would look like with some wax pieces added or liquid wax poured in while casting. Then melt the wax away after it sets for some texture and lightness. Concrete can get hot when it sets though so might not work.

    Or maybe using those melt away cornstarch packing peanuts. It would lighten the whole thing up and create some unusual hollows throughout the sphere if they were melted away with water after the concrete sets.

    I see a big chia pet one for my own garden though. Or maybe a moss covered one.

  • Some of my friends have used concrete for their project models in our landscape architecture studios. Some of my suggestions from those projects: try using old fabric, such as a ribbed tank top or sweater, to imprint on the exterior and create more free-form objects (concrete doesn’t seep through the fabric); molds made of cardboard or chipboard will work, as long as they are sealed with a hard acrylic layer; clay molds will work with a layer of fabric or plastic between the clay and concrete; concrete coloring will sometimes run, especially if mixed wrong; Rockite tends to work better than Quickrete, from our trials; once concrete is ‘set,’ it is still not necessarily dry, and can stain porous surfaces for a while; it is possible to sand fine-aggregate concrete like these, but it takes a lot of elbow grease. I hope this helps any intrepid DIYers. :)

  • Great idea.

    At the top of my project list is to make concrete bowls for planters (nesting bowls, quickcrete – pour in big bowl, insert smaller bowl, put weight in little bowl and let dry).

    This has me spinning again on things I can make. It would be cool to make stepping stones and use cookie cutters to make holes in the stepping stones (pour concrete around them, let dry) or old plastic tupperware thift store stuff, or or or or…..

    OH DANG. Ok, and now just this second it occured to me to MAKE the little concrete bricks I wanted for around a planting area.

    DIY is dangerous. ;-)

  • You can buy stains/colorants to mix in the concrete. (Also @ the hardware store) That creates a soft color & then depending on how much you stir it in you can keep it variegated or mix it a lot for solid. If you want to paint it you need to let it cure, some leave it 28 days to get rid of acids. Then use a good, made for concrete primer & a sun resistant outdoor paint for garden use.

  • What a fantastic idea. With some leftover concrete from another project, this will be a nice little cheap activity for a sunny weekend. Cant wait.

  • I saw the question regarding paint. I made concrete planters and painted them using exterior house paint and it worked great! You can get any color mixed and it’s completely waterroof. Also if you put rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle you can get a cool aged texture going….

  • It will be great for mosaicing as well! It can be a beautiful feature amongst flowers if its done in bright colours .

  • why don’t you try mixing broken coloured glass or any coloured jewel like items in with the cement

  • This is a great idea! you could also use old rubber boots or a giant elephant ear leaf as a mold. Just use plastic over the leaf. it makes a wonderful bird bath.

  • These would look great tinted a terra cota color-I just happen to have half a pallet of concrete in my garage-going to make some for my garden!

  • Fabulous project! I have made molded leaves with cement, and painted with metallic craft paints – Fred Meyer or Michaels – then sealed with cement sealer.

  • I am in love with these! I enjoy garden accents but don’t enjoy the price-this is great way to add a creative touch without a huge investment.

  • This is a great project and will add new dimensions to my rock garden. I am not sure why everyone feels the need to colour something natural like a rock? All those plants in their garden look new. The lavender will eventually grow as big if not bigger than the ball so having something like grey beside green leaves and purple flowers looks pretty good. Isn’t that what a garden ornament should do make your garden stand out!

  • I did this a couple of weekends back and really liked the result. However, I followed the instructions on the ratio of water to concrete, up to the maximum amount of water they suggested. It did not get to be like peanut butter but was quite a bit drier. I think i should have added more water but wasn’t sure if it would affect the stability of the concrete in the end. My final result had some areas that didn’t fill in. I think I will make sure to use more water next time I do it.

  • You could use plastic food containers with interesting shapes, like syrup bottles (Mrs. Butterworth’s), honey bottles shaped like bears, etc. There’s a store near me that sells huge containers of animal crackers in a teddy bear-shaped container.

    As for the jello molds, you could make a bunch of hearts or whatever, and use them as a border for a flower bed. I saw a show on HGTV where a woman made balls using an old basketball as a mold. You could use children’s plastic toys as molds, including small balls for finials. How about using a sand castle mold to make a concrete sand castle .

    You could use a latex glove with a bit of plastic tubing attached for a hand and arm mold. Several of these could hold up a small bowl or planter. Reinforce with some coat hanger wire for extra strength.

  • I have wanted some hose guides and I think some of these with a piece of rebar sticking out of the bottom would be perfect!

    If you want to paint or color these it might just be best to use thinned dish soap (be careful to not get bubbles) for a release instead of anything oil based (cooking spray)

  • Oh, I forgot to mention that you can mix hypertufa by adding perlite (without fertilizer) and peat moss to your concrete mix to lighten it up if that is a concern.

    A book I have says that you can use non fertilizer potting soil in place of peat/perlite combo. I haven’t tried that, but thought I’d pass on the info.

    Polypropylene fibers can be added for strength, but this is such a small project I don’t think I’d worry about that.

  • I made three of varying sizes last weekend and they look fantastic in the garden “island” we made for our atrium!

  • just love your ideas. I am a mosaic artist but find difficulty in getting concrete spheres to mosaic! I would really like to be able to access lighter material for mosaicing. Anybody got any ideas? thanks Anne

    • I just to do containers made of concrete, perlite and peat moss, all equal parts, but my brother in law told about adding zonolite, and I like it, make the containers waterproof, you can do your one experiments adding perlite or peat moss for less weight. Good luck, if you find something different let me know, Thanks.

  • Oh, my lord…Just saw these on Pinterest and repinned myself. I’m chomping at the bit for this WI winter to be over so I can hurry up and get these done and in my gardens. Love, love, LOVE this. Thank you!

  • OH, I have been looking for how to make these forever! When I think of all of the glass globes I have thrown away or broken over the years, ugh! Thank you gor sharing this!

  • I love this project! Gonna make some this weekend! I am going to try to add some interesting rocks or marbles into my concrete mix :)

  • I love this idea and can’t wait to try it. I think I even have a globe that I can use already at home.

  • Doing this with hypertufa (i hope thats correct) a mix of cement and light weight materials such as vermiculite, and organics. A great thing to grow moss on! Out to the store again! Great ideas

  • What about using water soluble glue to secure broken glass bits, broken china, stained glass, etc. to the inside of the globe or flat mold first, then pour concrete. Voila, hopefully any sharp edges would be concealed within the concrete pour. Then put the globe in a box of some kind and gently break the mold off as much as possible then soak the rest in a bucket. Check JoAnns or Hancocks for water soluble glue. I think some teacher supply places have it too, just has to tack the color piece in place long enough to pour.

    • Lynnette – what I did worked. I actually poured in some dollar store, shiny glass rocks and made sure they were all laying flat. Then I added the concrete mix. Mine have a lovely top of color and shine when the sun hits the glass. I wanted color in mine, but the process was actually easy. P.S. I found my globes for 25 cents each at a thrift store! Also I found a clear round vase there for 50 cents and I plan to try a cylinder clear glass vase – another cheap at .25 just for a variation of sizes. Have fun!

  • Hi. We made these balls but didnt use the quickcrete, just regular concrete. They set and we broke the glass. But, they seem to be taking forever to dry. Its been 4 days now. Do you think they will ever dry?

  • to make lighter/less heavy globes find a smaller size and fill with soray insulation foam. Let dry, break glass and insert in larger globe and use the process described

    • Maybe plaster, or polyclay? And, you could put in a little of the concrete, then place small styrofoam balls in the center and then pour more concrete in around the balls and then covering them up to the top

  • Another GREAT idea for this is to paint them with the new rust-o-leum glow in the dark paint and line your driveway or sidewalk

  • I just did this but I used a basketball. It works just as well. I just taped it closed after filling it. I used scrap Styrofoam in the center. The only downside is whatever side it’s left on will be a bit dented.

  • I just made one using plaster of paris, I didn’t have any concrete on hand so I figured I’d give it a whirl. I also added food coloring so it’s a pretty Robins egg blue. I used foam in the center and mixed in some gravel for texture. The only thing I’m worried about is 1-I forgot to spray cooking spray and 2-the only globe I could find is pretty thick. I hope it still turns out. I’ve been wanting to try this forever. Will let ya’ll know how it turns out:)

  • Why don’t you make a latex mould from your lighting cover, then you can make as many spheres as you want.