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Birdbaths and Butterfly Feeders/Puddlers, and Toad Homes

Category: Crafts Especially For Gardeners | Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:35 pm

Terra Cotta Garden Decor

"Aging" Terra Cotta Garden pots and sculptures

If you'd like the terra cotta to look aged or blend better with the garden elements I saw this aging technique on a curb-appeal-type show. 

These look great in a natural or rustic landscape. i like when moss grows naturally on terra cotta and i have never removed it. 

Pick some moss from your yard if you have it, break into small pieces. Place the pieces in a plastic container,stir in yogurt or buttermilk. Coat your pot with this mixture.  Display the pot in a shady spot in your yard or garden or keep on a covered porch out of the elements. If you're putting plants in it, choose plants that like shade or indirect sunlight.

Don't use this techniques on items that will be holding water or will be part of a landscape exposed to the elements.

Quick and Inexpensive Garden Birdbaths/Butterfly Puddlers
I saw a photo of plain terra cotta flowerpot birdbaths and i realized that the supplies are always around here somewhere!

Note: if you live in an area that freezes, be sure to store your birdbath parts and other pottery garden bowls indoors so that they don't crack.

These are fun to make and easy to store in the winter in the colder climates. Just carefully pull the pieces apart from each other before your usual freeze date.

Tip: if you like the look of old terra cotta that's been in the outdoors for a while, purchase an outdoor grade oil based stain in colors to brush/wipe off quickly and haphazardly to add an aged tone onto it. Browns, greens, aquas all work nicely. If you do paint your pots, you will need outdoor grade paints and you'll have to seal with outdoor grade polyurethane.

What You'll Need
2 or 3 terra cotta flower pots in graduated sizes - Sizes that will sit snugly on top of each other upside down.

One Large,one med, sm etc.1 large size terra cotta saucer that usually goes with really large flower pots ( which will require several coats of an outdoor or oil-based polyurethane waterproof coating on the inside if it's not glazed when you buy it - to keep water from soaking into the water bowl.

-Or a 1 large, glazed colorful pottery serving bowl, shallow.You'll only keep the maximum 2 or 3 inches of water in the birdbath.Wait for the large,colorful pasta and rustic serving bowls to go on sale at department stores and cooking shops, these are perfect for creating birdbaths and butterfly puddlers.You don't want the bowl at the top to be made of much heavier material than the stacked pots can hold without risk of cracking. Remember that water adds weight, as well.

Optional: some cleaned aquarium gravel, colored glass stones or polished multi-shade pebbles for the inside of the bath. Stones, mulch or shells to decorate at the foot of your birdbath.

Turn your bowl upside down.apply a hefty amount of any waterproof super-hold construction glue/adhesive all over the bottom of the smallest flower pot..which is what's going to hold up your bowl.Set the flower pot right-side up on top of the bowl (your bowl is upside down, the flower pot will be set onto this right-side up).Let this dry thoroughly, according to the label instructions.

Turn the large pot upside down in a spot in the garden.Carefully push it a little bit into the ground around it if you wish, if the ground isn't exactly even, or set the first pot onto a flat tile or stone.Do not push the remaining pot or pots hard over the one underneath it, or you will definitely break one.

Slip the next smaller size over it if using more than two flower pots (you can make your bird/butterfly baths 2 or 2 flowerpot heights tall -vary them and the bowl sizes, and cluster them in different areas of your garden).

Lift the bowl and the pot that's glued to it together carefully, and set this last flowerpot with the bowl attached over the flowerpot on your base.

Add some of the colored stones or gravel in the bottom of your bowl. Add water and do not fill birdbaths with more that a couple of inches of water.

If using as a butterfly feeder or puddler, don't add the stones and keep the water shallower. Add sugar water or sponges soaked in sugar water, along with fruit that's "going over".For the puddler, add a pinch of salt to plain or muddy water.

You can find a birdbath cleaner solution to add to birdbath water at some garden centers if you're using stones and don't want to remove them to clean the birdbath each time.

Terra cotta flower pot wind chimes

Also plain and simple, blends into your landscaping. They have a lovely, soothing tibetan sound to them. 

Pick up some inexpensive, small clay pots used for seedlings. these can be purchased in bulk from nursery suppliers online or on ebay. Some large craft stores and home centers have clearance on these items in the fall. 3 or 4 small terra cotta clay pots in graduated sizes. The smallest sizes the better.

heavy outdoor twine, cord or jute

A 1-inch diameter wooden bead

rubber washers larger in diameter than the pots' drainage hole.

Cut up a yard or so of your twine or jute. the amount depends on how many pots and the sizes you'll hang for your chime, but you don't want it too long, especially when hung on a branch that will bend from the weight of the clay. 

Put the twine through the bead and knot it.

Tie another knot about an inch or two above the bead. Slip the washer over this knot. This will keep the knot from accidentally slipping through the hole in the pot hanging over it over time.

With the other end of the twine, slip the smallest pot onto the jute. Measure by eye where to make each next knot - you want your pots to overlap onto each other by a little (otherwise you won't hear a thing!).

Add a washer over this knot. Add the next bigger pot over this knot.

And do the same for the largest of the pots.

Make a loop at the top to hang. 

Another way to create these is to hang two or three sets using all sizes of little pots and hanging each string of pots through holes in a wooden bar.

Terra cotta and all breakable windchimes are best hanging freely from branches or in a protected place in your garden so that if a big wind kicks up, they're not hitting a tree trunk or side of your house. On days with high wind, i recommend that you take these down so that the twine doesn't snap and the pots won't bang each other and break.

In cold climates, bring the chimes in for the winter so that they don't crack.

Terra Cotta Toad Homes

Toad houses are easy to create and cost just pennies, as opposed to the decorative specialty type. and are eco-friendly....

invite the toads where you want them and they'll probably not dig in the flower beds. Toads should be encouraged to eat destructive or undesirable garden insects.

Just buy inexpensive, unglazed clay can get them inexpensively at flea markets, garden centers may toss chipped or cracked pots out.

Take a tile nipper or carefully use your drill to chip an opening along the top edge part of the flower pot. it's not supposed to look pretty, and the hole should be around 3 inches wide and probably the same height.just avoid cracking apart the whole pot. set the pot upside down in the garden,in sheltered areas-away from foot traffic and not easily seen by predators... and they will come. among ground cover that's under taller foliage plants is a good spot.

you can paint them with outdoor grade paints if you wish to decorate, but the natural look of the clay looks great in any garden. you can purchase the saucers along with the pots and set them near the toad homes. they will gather a little water when it rains, which they will also like. to drink from or to grab unsuspecting bugs out of. the unglazed terra cotta absorbs dew and other moisture, keeping it cool inside.

if you live in a freeze zone, store them in the winter. in warmer climates, leave them out there year-round. Your toads will thank you.

Last edited: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:44 pm

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