To Make Your Own Decorative Garden Mushroom All you need is a few bucks, the strength to lift the bag of concrete and about 1 hour of free time.
Things You'll Need
- bag of quikrete
- pails and bowls
- duck tape
- a plastic pail & big bowl
Get some quikrete preferably sand and mortar mix from True Value Hardware Store, Lowes, Home Depot or any lumber yard. Buy a roll of duck tape if you don't already have some. It's optional, but you may also buy some liquid nails glue and a caulking gun if you don't already have one. It's optional but you might like to buy some paint and brushes if you don't have any kicking around and some clear sealer for the finishing coat. Also make sure to always wear gloves and don't inhale concrete dust.
You've probably got an old pail or small plastic trash can (preferably shaped like a mushroom stem) & an old large plastic bowl (the bigger the better) kicking around which will serve as the decorative garden mushroom stem & top. If not you could rummage around in a thrift store for different shapes and sizes. An alternative to the bowl is you could simply dig a mushroom cap shaped hole in the yard and line with plastic, fill with concrete & tap it down.
Get your cardboard (the thicker the better) and cut out some strips about 2 inches wide. You will be using these lengthwise inside the pail to give some character & design to the mushroom stem. Alternately you could use slats of wood. Cut some cardboard circles in various sizes which will be placed inside the bowl to add design and character to your mushroom cap. Cover the cardboard strips with duck tape so the concrete won't seep in and bond to the corrugated edges. Do the same for the circles or if you'd like, just cover the edges. Do it neatly of course because the concrete will be forming around these shapes.
Arrange your circle cutouts inside the bowl and use strips of duck tape to secure them in place. Be sure you haven't distorted your circular shaped molds by applying this tape. Generously grease the bowl including the tape and circles. Generously grease the inside of your pail with shortening. Additionally lightly grease the cardboard pieces. Arrange your cardboard strips evenly spaced, lengthwise in the pail. The grease should help them stay in place.
Now you are ready for the physically challenging part. Preferably work near where you plan to place your finished mushroom so you won't have to lug heavy containers around. Put on some gloves. You can fill the bowl and pail with concrete and dump them into the mixing container to estimate the amount needed. Mix up the concrete in a wheel barrel or bucket according to package directions. It should be the consistency of cookie dough. Store any leftover concrete mix in a dry place.
Now carefully pour or scoop the concrete into the containers being careful not to displace the cardboard. For the mushroom top dump more concrete around the edges so the middle is somewhat hollowed out for a more natural look. This will also help it sit more securely on the mushroom stem when it's finished. If the concrete mix isn't thick enough to accomplish this you can place another smaller bowl in the middle to displace it and keep the shape. Now you need to get rid of air bubbles. To do so, pick the containers up about 2 inches off the ground and drop them about 20 times.
Cover your bowl and pail with plastic wrap and allow the concrete to set for 4 days. If rain is in the forecast cover the containers so they won't fill with rainwater. After the 4 days, grab your chalking gun and liquid nails, a knife and a wire brush & put on your gloves. Your 2 mushroom parts should slide easily out of the containers. Remove the cardboard pieces. Be careful because at this point the concrete is still relatively soft and breakable if handled roughly. You may have to use a knife to score the edges to loosen the cardboard strips and avoid pulling off chunks. Once all the strips are off access the mushroom stem and decide if it pleases you as is. You can go ahead and use the knife to chisel any further designs you desire and make it look more realistic. Do the same for the mushroom cap chiseling the holes deeper if you wish or adding designs & softening the edges with the wire brush for a more natural look for your decorative garden mushroom.
Squirt a generous amount of liquid nails glue (if you have it) on top of the mushroom base and place your mushroom cap carefully on top. Remove any excess glue.
Wash your decorative garden mushroom with a hose to remove the shortening and aid in curing. After 3 weeks your mushroom will be ready for painting. Make sure there are no traces of grease left on it. You can paint it with any type of thick paint, allow to dry & follow with two coats of clear weatherproof sealer. Now that it's done, chances are you have some new creative ideas so go ahead and make some more in different shapes and sizes!