Painted Rock Garden Markers

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

I realize it’s getting a little late in the season for garden crafts. However, I made these garden markers from smooth stones for my Chicago Tribune column early last month and frankly, didn’t want to wait until next spring to show you! I’m really happy with how they came out and love all the different colors.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

It’s kind of like planting forever flowers to add a splash of color to an all green herb garden.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

This is a bit picture heavy as I wanted to show you each marker in its environment… there is a picture-free printable version at the very end of this post.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

Just in case you are wondering, I didn’t paint the bottom of the rocks. Two reasons for that: 1) why bother ha ha, and 2) all of DecoArt’s paints are non-toxic, but just to be safe from anything leeching into the soil I didn’t paint them. They won’t be seen anyway.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

I can’t wait to see how they do over the winter too.. (see next pic and description)!

Painted Rock Garden Markers - Amanda Formaro, Crafts by Amanda


Many have asked how these survived outside in the rain and snow and ice. This picture shows them after two winters outside. This is without me giving them any additional coats of clear or anything. They have held up beautifully considering. You can see that the purple one has a couple nicks, that’s from falling off the edge and onto my driveway I believe. That’s where I found it anyway! :-/

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

I used Patio Paint for these. Patio Paint is made by DecoArt and is specifically formulated for outdoor projects. These markers have been outside since the first week of June and have been subjected to daily watering and quite a few rainstorms. They still look just as good as they did when I first put them out there.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

As far as keeping them outside all winter, I will have to test that. I plan to wrap all of them in plastic sandwich bags, but I’ll leave one exposed to see how it does. I know that many people like to leave their markers out so they know where their perennials will come up each spring. I’ll be sure to update this post next spring with my results.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

I’m hoping they do well, as many of these plants I will have again next year.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

Have you ever grown kale? Wow does it sprout up! This is my first year growing it and I am really pleased with how well it’s doing.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

To make these garden markers you will need some smooth stones. You can find them in your yard or garden, or you can buy a bag from the craft store. I used a piece of paper to map out which rocks to use for each plant. Obviously, some plants will require a larger rock because of the number of letters in its name, so it’s a good idea to plan that ahead of time.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

Paint the top of each one with Patio Paint, let them dry, and paint a second coat. Don’t paint the bottoms as they will be touching the earth. Notice that I placed the painted rocks on the foam board in the same order that I had them on the paper I used to map them out.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

To write the plant names on the rocks, I used DecoArt glass paint markers because they are my favorite, but you could also use a Sharpie. HOWEVER, if you use a Sharpie, please be sure to allow the Sharpie to dry for a good hour before adding the clear coat over the top. Sharpies are notorious for bleeding.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

To decorate, use the handle end of a large craft paintbrush to dot on various spots in different colors. Use a smaller paintbrush handle to add smaller spots. Finally, use the tip of a pencil or a toothpick to add tiny white dots to the center of the larger dots. Allow the rocks to dry for 2-3 hours. Apply Patio Paint clear coat and allow them to dry overnight.

Painted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro - CraftsbyAmanda.comPainted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro - CraftsbyAmanda.comPainted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro - CraftsbyAmanda.comPainted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro - CraftsbyAmanda.comPainted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro - CraftsbyAmanda.comPainted Rock Garden Markers by @amandaformaro -

More Garden Crafts

Birdy Flower Markers
Herb Garden Sign
Recycled Key Plant Markers
Make a Fairy House
Gnome Garden Markers – Swallow’s Heart
Tiny Clay Pot Markers – Tidy Brown Wren
Recycled Can Lid Plant Markers – Pin and Paper

Painted Rock Garden Markers


  • Smooth rocks
  • Patio Paint or outdoor craft paint in various colors
  • Black paint marker or Sharpie
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pencil or toothpick
  • Patio Paint clear coat or clear outdoor sealer
  1. Wash the rocks and dry them thoroughly. It may be necessary to let them sit for an hour or so as rocks are porous and can absorb water.
  2. Which rocks you use with depend on what you have growing in your garden. For example, you will need a longer or larger rock for “marjoram” than you will for “kale” as there are more letters to fit on the rock. You can use a piece of paper to map out what rocks will get what names.
  3. Paint the rocks in desired colors. For the longest life of your plant markers, it’s important to allow adequate drying time; allow at least 1 hour between coats. Some colors may need more coats than others in order to cover.
  4. Once your rocks are painted and dry, use a black paint pen or Sharpie marker to write the names of your plants on each rock.
  5. To decorate, use the handle end of a large craft paintbrush to dot on various spots in different colors. Use a smaller paintbrush handle to add smaller spots.
  6. Finally, use the tip of a pencil or a toothpick to add tiny white dots to the center of the larger dots. Allow the rocks to dry for 2-3 hours.
  7. Apply a clear coat and allow them to dry overnight.
ANOTHER CRAFTY IDEA >>  Shamrock Plant Poke


  1. Kandi says

    Absolutely LOVED the idea! You are soooo creative Amanda. Thanks so much for sharing all your creative projects. :)

  2. says

    You did it again, Amanda… yet another craft that makes me go “Ew, how cute!” I love your style and creativity, and really enjoy your work!

  3. Denise Grant says

    Amanda…I just started painting on rocks…read about letting the sharpie art dry completely before sealing to avoid bleeding…but what if we don’t totally paint the rocks with acrylic paints, how do you seal or make the naked rock shines? I did spray clear paint and even like black spray paint and it stays sticky and doesn’t seem to dry….I will also try those paints and markers made for out side….thanks hope to hear from you soon…..
    Happy rock painting

  4. susanne says

    sharpie and Elmer’s acrylic paint pens bled once I sprayed them with the clear sealer. Ugh! I tried waiting overnight…didn’t matter…keeps bleeding. will try painting the sealer on.

  5. Jennifer says

    I want to do these for a VBS. But I’m wondering about how much time this took. I don’t want it to be a labor intensive project and I want the kids to be able to take it home 2 hours later.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer. The main painting aspect doesn’t take that long, but adding the polka dots can be time consuming. I would suggest just skipping the dots if you have time constraints :)

  6. Susan says

    Would like to know how the painted garden rocks held up over winter?
    They are so fun, I would love to try them.

    • says

      Actually they did really well! They were outside the entire winter, buried in snow etc. I just wiped the dirt off of them in the spring and they are in my garden now :)

  7. Kathy says

    This is my first time visiting your page; I am totally in love with your creativity! Thank you for the great idea on the garden stones! I can’t wait to check out your other projects.

  8. Linda says

    Thanks for the idea for the markers but I am going to make a memory garden for my love ones that are in heaven with their names on the rocks

  9. Jana Carlson says

    I want to make these as paperweights for desks. Would you use all the same paints, markers, etc. or a different kind for indoor items?

  10. lilylove says

    These are great…just wanted to add I ended up gorilla gluing them to tent stakes, as my little ones kept moving them EVERYWHERE….lol It works great & so far held up. It’s been a nasty winter though, might need to re-glue this spring.

    • says

      Hi Gina! They actually held up great! They were a bit dirty, but all the paint was still in tact. It’s actually been two winters now and they are completely buried in frozen snow right now. So we will see how they faired. I didn’t add another coat of sealer last year, but if they are still in good shape when the snow melts I will.

  11. says

    Amanda — you sparked some great ideas from my friends when I reposted your picture (it turned up on Facebook). Besides using the Patio Paint, which everyone loved, a friend suggested glow-in-the-dark paint for rocks to be used as markers along driveways, stepping stone decorations, and much more. You’ve been a tremendous inspiration!

  12. dot says

    Hello! This is a wonderful project. I made a number of these markers for an herb garden recently. I do have a question: I noticed you said these fared well over the winter. The rocks I made recently have just been rained on for the first time. I noticed they have developed a cloudy film. I used 2 coats of clear coat just to be safe snd let them dry for several days. I am hoping the cloudy finish disappears after they dry (?). Thanks

  13. Brenda says

    Such a cute idea, Amanda, and thanks for the detailed instructions much appreciated for old folks like me!

  14. Christine says

    I loved these painted rocks so much I went out, got the paints, and painted up a whole bunch. Unfortunately, I was not able to get my hands on the Patio Paint clear coat and was directed to buy something that was not appropriate (not exterior and likely not food safe in anyway). Now I am scrambling to find something, anything, so I can finish these rocks up and get them in my garden. Do you have any ideas on what else I can use as a sealant? Michaels in Canada does not stock that clear coat for unknown reasons…

  15. Susan says

    In the fall just remove the rocks and put them in a shoe box or something like that so they don’t get trashed with the winter weather. Then “replant” in the spring.


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