Construct a Decorative Umbrella Stand

Here's how to make a creative and inexpensive umbrella stand for your patio.

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Add a decorative touch to any patio seating area with this double-duty umbrella stand in a pot.

Umbrellas can take up a lot of space on the patio, and most umbrella stands aren't that attractive. Yet there's a creative – and inexpensive – way to get some shade: Create a container that doubles as a planter and an umbrella stand. Here's how to make your own.

Tools and Materials:

A large decorative pot (about one fourth to one third the size of the umbrella)
Lava rocks
50-pound bag of concrete mix
Large container for mixing ingredients
Dust mask
ABS or similar pipe
Wire screen
Several dowels
Tools for mixing


1. To get started, pour about half of the bag of concrete into the mixing container and add some water. Take care to add just a little amount of water to the mixture at a time; it's easy to put water into the mixture but not so easy to take it out. Keep some dry concrete on hand just in case there's too much water in the mixture. Work the mixture until it has the consistency of crumbly cookie dough. Note: when working the dry concrete with water, wear gloves and a dust mask.

2. Once the concrete mixture is ready, prepare the decorative pot. The pot should have a fairly broad base to help distribute the weight and prevent it from toppling in the wind. Place a piece of wire screen to cover the drainage hole in the pot. Add a one-inch layer of lava rock into the container to secure the screen in place. You will ultimately use just enough lava rock to add some weight to the pot but not so much that it's extremely heavy.

3. Before adding the concrete mixture to the pot, make sure the ABS pipe fits snugly over the umbrella pole. The pipe should stand about eight inches taller than the pot. Then place the pipe centered inside the pot. Fill in the pot with more rock so that it's a little more than halfway full.

4. Add the concrete mixture around the pipe, holding it in place as best as you can. Apply enough for a two- to three- inch layer of concrete. To help pack it in, you can use a brick or other small, heavy object to work out any air bubbles and smooth the surface. To make sure there's enough room for potting soil and plants, leave eight to 10 inches of free space from the rim of the pot to the top of the concrete layer. Insert the dowels into the concrete and through to the lava rock. This creates drainage holes so you can add plants to your container. Make sure the pipe is vertically level; you wouldn't want a slightly tilted umbrella. Place the container in a location out of the elements where it can dry thoroughly. Allow it to cure for two to three days.

5. Once the container is ready to go, you are ready to add some soil and plants to the pot. Use plants that can handle the shade of the umbrella, aren't deeply rooted and will grow tall enough to cover the ABS pipe that's sticking up out of the pot. Place the container in the desired location and add the umbrella so it fits snugly into the pipe.

Homemade pavers

Homemade pavers are a great way to add a custom touch to your garden. You can add river rock, sea glass or even seashells that you've picked up from the beach. They're easy, inexpensive and quick to make.

1. While you already have several of the mixing materials listed above, gather some mortar for a more refined finish and a mold. One 10-pound bag of mortar will make a paver the size of a rectangular nursery half flat. Follow the same drill on mixing the water into the mortar a little bit at a time. Work the mixture until it's the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes.

2. If you want to add some color to your paver, mix in liquid or powder cement color until completely worked into the mixture. Line the bottom of the mold with a sheet of heavy plastic cut to size. Pour the mortar mixture into the mold and press firmly.

3. Add decorative objects, such as sea glass or shells, on the paver surface. Set the mold out to dry for a couple of days. If it is warm outside, you can take a couple of damp towels, lay them over the top and set a piece of plastic over the top so that it dries. After it has dried, remove the paver from its mold and place it in the landscape.

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