Thursday, May 22, 2014

DIY Concrete Birdbath For Less Than Six Dollars

I set out this week to make something to add some structure around a couple of Japanese Maples that I have, so I decided to make myself a couple of simple birdbaths. 

Here is what you will need:
1.  A pair of good gloves
2.  Dust mask
3.  Something to mix the concrete with (trowel, hoe, etc)
4.  Molds
5.  Mold release spray-I use cheap cooking spray
6.  Hardware cloth or chicken wire for reinforcement
7.  Wheelbarrow or tub large enough to mix the concrete in
8.  Concrete or a cement recipe of your choice, I used Quikcrete Commercial Grade Crack Resistant (for durability in my zone 5 climate)
9.  Water
10. Pair of cutters to trim the hardware cloth
Here are the steps to create your own masterpiece:

1.  Pick a set of molds-you will need three pieces for a birdbath.  I went around the house and garage and put pieces together to see what looked interesting and picked what I liked best.  Note: the inner mold should be no more than 2 inches because birds do not like deep water.
Some of the "molds" that I was considering
I went with this to start:
2.  Clean and dry the molds you are going to use.
3.  Trim your hardware cloth to fit in the molds-make sure it is smaller than the mold.
For the bowl:
For the pedestal:

4.  Cover any holes in the molds with tape:
5.  Oil the molds:
Take a paper towel and wipe off excess:

All ready to go:
6.  Dump concrete mix in tub or wheelbarrow (I used 2 bags which was more than enough for the size of molds I had chosen):
7.  Add water as recommended by manufacturer, I always start with less water and add it as needed.  Too much water weakens the concrete.
8.  Begin mixing-I like to mix with my hands and a handheld hoe.
This is the consistency I prefer
9.  Begin filling the molds-at a couple of inches in the bottom first, pressing it in the mold to try and remove air pockets.
Press it down in the mold
When you have a couple of inches in the bottom add the hardware cloth, center it so it is not near the sides:
Add concrete around and inside the hardware cloth pressing it down as much as you can to release air bubbles:
Fill in the sides and the middle-continue pressing it down
Finish filling almost to the top:
Press as you add concrete

Now the other mold:
Fill the bottom
Add hardware cloth
Time to add the inner mold
Add the inner mold-make sure to fill it with sand or rocks to weigh it down:
Set it in the outer mold, center as much as you can
Add concrete around the sides
Press it down to get rid of air bubbles
Add caption

All filled-I added more weight to keep the inner mold in place
Here are the other molds I filled (I made extra so I made 2 birdbaths, 2 bowls and 1 basketball):
10.  Cover them with plastic and let them set up (in a level area if possible) for approximately 24 hours.

11.  After 24 hours unmold them somewhere soft.  Some will slip right out:
and some will be difficult (plastic can be cut off):
These two I had to crack the plastic off:
12.  Cure for a week covered with plastic make sure they stay moist, or use a water bath.  I prefer to cure my concrete in a water bath.  I use my pond when it is clean or you can use large plastic tubs/storage containers.

13.  Seal the concrete or paint it-I use Rustoleum water based concrete seal.

14.  Place them out in the garden for the birds (if you are worried about the top falling off you can use construction adhesive to attach the top to the bottom):

There you are-sturdy, durable birdbaths that you can make for a fraction of what it costs to buy one from a retailer.    Remember, you can embellish them if you would like.  Just do it after you fill the molds (while still wet), you can press gems, stones or shells into the rim or glue leaves in the molds themselves before you spray them with mold release.  Either way, I think you will love your results.

So, until next time-Happy Planting!



  1. Thanks for all the good info. Looks like a great project and a nice garden piece worth putting in the yard. Thanks for all the pics too. That really helps. Lorna

  2. Love them can't wait to make my own. Great instructions. Thank you

  3. Thanks Rhonda for an informative blog. It was well set out with great photos and commentary. I'm sharing this on one of my Australian pages and I'm sure I'll get lots of 'likes'.

    1. Thank you! I try to use plenty of pics and make the instructions easy to follow.

  4. Great project. Really want to do this. Thanks for the pictures along with great instructions.

  5. Really nice birdbath. I like it and you have written and photograph very good directions.

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  7. I assume you mean water bath literally, you actually submerge the item completely in the water?

  8. I appreciate your post and photos. Nicely done. Thank you.

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  11. I couldn’t find a tall enough base (bucket) form , but mine looks like your tubular concrete piece. Very nice job you did . I’m an amateur but love trying new things . thank you for the insight