Leaf Casting for a Birdbath: My First Attempt

Leaf Casting for a Birdbath: My First Attempt

A few weeks ago I attempted my first ever leaf casting. We were putting some hand prints of the my children and nieces in concrete for my parents to add to their garden and had some leftover Portland cement to use. Conveniently my parents had a pile of sand in their backyard behind their shed (leftover from the patio/pavilion) that was perfect for this project.  I didn’t mix a hypertufa recipe but I did incorporate a little sand into the cement. (Hypertufa recipes use peat moss, sand, and cement. The peat moss breaks up over time which leaves behind a weathered look on the remaining stone. Very cool stuff.)
Here’s how I made my leaf casting:
  • I mounded the sand into a gentle rise. Higher in the center and lower on the outside.
  • Then I covered the sand with a plastic trash bag to prevent the sand from getting into the casting.
  • Next I layered three large sunflower leaves with the base of each leaf on top of the mound of sand and plastic layer so that the points radiated outward.
  • Then I carefully spread the mixed cement over the leaves with a spade. I had to take special care so that I didn’t tear or move the leaves. I started from the center to anchor the leaves in place and worked outward.
  • When all the cement was in place I covered with a second plastic bag. 
I waited about three weeks before attempting to move the leaf casting. The shady location in the back and all the rain we’ve had helped because the longer cement stays wet the stronger it becomes.
Here’s the result of the leaf casting:

The large veining pattern on the sunflower leaves left some really nice deep grooves in the birdbath. This one stays at mom’s house so I’ll have to make another one for us before the sunflowers are gone!


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Very cool! I have been wanting to do that forever.

  2. That is very nice. It will look good in the garden.

  3. It came out great, Dave. A couple of helpful hints, if I might, the recipe of dry ingredients, one part cement to three parts sand will be greatly strengthened by using concrete bonding agent for the liquid instead of water. If you want to make a larger one, some kind of wire form will be needed. I had a couple of heartbreaking failures with large banana leafs this summer, just too large and heavy without reinforcement. The hypertufa is so strong because a much thicker, about three inches, wall is made. Maybe a layer of cement to get the leaf veining covered by hypertufa? Just an idea.

  4. Wow, that is fantastic, Dave! Your mom must be so thrilled!!!

  5. I am getting ready to do a banana leaf casting today-so I was most excited to see this. Your sunflower leaves are beautiful. Did you apply a wash? And what mixture did you use or straight cement?

  6. Frances,

    Thanks for the tips! I'm a novice at the leaf casting but I intend to do much more in the future. I'll look into the bonding agent.


    It was pretty much Portland cement with a little sand mixed in. I don't have a clue what the actual ratio was! I didn't do any wash on it. The greenish tinting is due to the remnants of the leaves. The neat thing was the leaves were still green after 3 weeks from being separated from the plant.

  7. I see. The green tint is a nice thing. I'll link to this when I do my leaf casting experiment; which won't be today unfortunately. Boy, time passes too quickly!

  8. Tina,

    The green tint doesn't hold. What was green has now turned brown and will quickly degrade and fall away. A green dye might be neat to incorporate into the cement.

  9. Hi Dave, Hooray! Did you have fun? I love the way it turned out. You can add concrete colorant when you make the mix. That's fun, too.

    Another hint: Concrete reinforcing fibers can be purchased from a ready-mix Concrete place. They sell a little bag (you only need a very small handful or less in a batch) that looks like shredded plastic.

    Keep it up – the variety of things you can make is endless! (Check out HGTV website for a little video). 🙂

  10. I just did my first hypertula project today! I have been wanting to do it for a long time! I guess I mixed way more than I needed and was able to make four items. It was fun to do! I now have them all covered in plastic in my garage! I can hardly wait to see how they turn out! I will post pics when they are ready! I would love to do some sculpting with it! Any ideas? I use the usual recipes for containers, but I have seen some other recipes on line. Has anyone tried sculpting?

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