Create Mosaic Magic in Your Garden | Midwest Living

Create Mosaic Magic in Your Garden

Add personality to your garden with easy mosaic projects you create from pieces of tile, pottery and glass.

Swirling steps

Mosaic-embellished steps show off a pattern that suggests movement—and a family pet that just enjoys a resting place!

Gather supplies

For a flowerpot, one of the most popular outdoor mosaic projects, you'll need:
--Terra-cotta pots
--Decorative materials such as a patterned china plate, ceramic tiles and glass pebbles
--A towel or cloth
--Protective goggles
--Plastic knife
--Small box of thin-set mortar
--Sanded grout
--Soft rags and sponges
--Disposable gloves
--Tile float (optional)
--Grout sealer (optional)

Break your mosaic pieces

To break plates, tile or pottery into mosaic-size pieces, wrap the materials in a towel or cloth. Wearing goggles to protect your eyes, pound with a hammer. Stop occasionally to check the size of the smashed pieces -- you don't want them too small. Pieces 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter are easiest to work with.

For more control over the result—and to preserve any important decorations on your tile or china—use nippers to cut and shape pieces.

Start your design

Sketch your design on the pot, indicating where you want certain sections of color or specific patterns. Wearing gloves and using the plastic knife, spread a 1/4-inch layer of thin-set mortar over the first section of your design. (For larger projects, use a notched mortar trowel to spread the mortar.) Do one area at a time; the mortar will begin to harden in 15 minutes. Press mosaic pieces into the wet mortar, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart. Repeat with remaining sections of your design. Let the mortar dry overnight.

Grout and finish your piece

Mix grout according to package directions to a mudlike consistency. Slather grout into the crevices between mosaic pieces using a tile float or your gloved fingertips. Let set 10 to 15 minutes. Remove excess grout by wiping the mosaic with a clean, damp sponge. Polish off the remaining fimy residue with a soft cloth. Let dry, then apply a grout sealer, if desired, to prevent staining.

Display ideas

Tile shards embedded in colored grout create rustic pots perfect for displaying on a stand such as this aged ladder. Other ideas for your mosaic pots:
—Group plant-filled pots for a pretty centerpiece.
—Fill pots with flatware and napkins for outdoor parties.
—Fill tiny mosaic pots with wrapped candy or soaps, and use as party favors.

Preserve favorite plates

You can lend sentimental value to your mosaic work by using an old dish set, or turn an accident into a blessing by giving new life to a broken treasured memento. Here, classic Blue Willow china creates a pleasing two-color combination on pots.

Shore memories

Display treasures gathered during a trip to the shore by overlaying them on a terra-cotta pot using the same technique described for making tile mosaics. If you haven't been to the beach lately, buy an assortment of small- to medium-size shells at a crafts store. The best buy is the bulk bag of assorted shells.

Stepping-stones and other projects

Use the same basic technique described in slides 2 through 4 to create stepping-stones or any other mosaic project.

While you can create mosaics on many different bases, keep in mind that a mosaic attached to a porous base such as wood will need protection from the elements. If your mosaic will be outdoors year-round, choose a base of concrete, stone, brick or ceramic, and use frostproof, waterproof grout. Terra-cotta pots vary in durability; if you're not sure, it's best to bring pots indoors in the winter.

See more information on how to make mosaic stepping stones.

A new shell

A concrete turtle from a garden center makes an ideal base for a mosaic of small ceramic squares.

Birdbath mosaic

Tile and pebble embellishments sparkle in shallow birdbaths. Match the grout to the color of the bowl to show off your mosaic work.

Floating flower bowl

Create a shallow mosaic bowl for floating flowers with a ceramic pot saucer. (Thin plastic pots or saucers don't work well for mosaics because the material flexes, causing pieces to pop off.)

Pillar perfection

Eight, 10- and 18-inch-diameter PVC pipes cut to varying heights serve as the bases for these mosaic pillars. Overturned terra-cotta saucers turn two of the pipes into pedestals; the third cradles a flowerpot.

Bench beauty

Ribbons of square glass tiles entwine on the surface of a concrete garden bench. The pattern also includes blue glass pebbles and pieces of an heirloom cake plate.

Swirling steps

Mosaic-embellished steps show off a pattern that suggests movement—and a family pet that just enjoys a resting place!

A mosaic garden

Read about a Wisconsin gardener who mingles artful mosaic-art pieces with colorful blooms to create a magical yard full of inspiration.

Garden Tour: Door County Mosaic Art

More garden project ideas

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