There was an old, leaky concrete birdbath left on the property by our home’s former owners and, today, I decided to make it into something beautiful! Lately, I have seen many ideas in gardening magazines and on Pinterest showing an an old birdbath converted into a succulent garden. I already had the birdbath, so I set about gathering the other necessary materials.
A trip to a nearby nursery yielded the tall “Blue Chalk Finger” (Senecio vitalis), the “Chocolate Ball” Sedum, “Chinese Dunce Cap” (Orostachys) and a couple of annual purslanes. While choosing the plants, I kept in mind the gray of the birdbath and the sedum colors that I already had available in my garden. It took great restraint, but I got the succulents I came for and kept moving, even though the nursery grounds were an explosion of color and scent!
Home again, I rooted around in the garden shed and pulled out some builder’s sand, my own compost (you could use potting soil) and the wheelbarrow, plus a pot full of small stones gathered from our yard. My cost for this project came to only $20 because I was mostly using materials and plants I already had. By the way, at the nursery, a small planted pot of four succulents mulched with pebbles cost $39! My project is about five times that size!
First, I rolled the base of the birdbath across the yard – it weighs about 150 pounds – and I’ll tell you, this was the hardest part of the whole project! Once I got the base to the flower bed where I wanted it, I had to flip it end over end into place and wrestle it around until it was level. Probably I should have waited for some help, but I was on a mission and it was getting hot! After a rest, I lugged the concrete basin (only about 40 pounds) and put it in place.
In the wheelbarrow, I made a mix of roughly 2 parts compost to 1 part sand and mixed it well. A bucket full of this mix was smoothed into the basin. Small rocks and stones were added. I tried to build it up in the middle so there would be some height and the plants would cascade.
Now the fun part: adding the plants! The tall Senecio took its spot on the top and the rest I tucked in and around the rocks, with some of the longer sedums draped a bit over the side to add interest. A trip down the street to my neighbor’s yard yielded some more good “filler” sedums and the rest I dug up from our front flower bed. Of course, I had bought a “Chocolate Ball” Sedum at the nursery for my neighbor as a thanks for sharing her different varieties with me, so I stopped to chat a while with her.
Back to our garden and putting on the finishing touches of tiny sedums. A light watering followed for the completed succulent garden and a cold drink for me, too! The entire project took about two hours, including the nursery trip and neighborly chat! Time well spent in my book!