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.
It’s kind of like planting forever flowers to add a splash of color to an all green herb garden.
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.
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.
I can’t wait to see how they do over the winter too.. (see next pic and description)!
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! :-/
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.
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.
I’m hoping they do well, as many of these plants I will have again next year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Smooth rocks
- Patio Paint or outdoor craft paint in various colors
- Black paint marker or Sharpie
- Pencil or toothpick
- Patio Paint clear coat or clear outdoor sealer
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a clear coat and allow them to dry overnight.