The best faux dirt starts with real dirt!
Before I could even write this, a friend asked me if I should call it faux dirt if I’m using real dirt as the base. Because I added glue which will make it set to a hard consistency, I don’t feel it’s regular dirt anymore. Does that make sense? I wanted dirt that looked real but wouldn’t spill out or look like it needed water. And what is more realistic faux dirt than something made from dirt itself?
I tried a recipe for faux dirt using coffee grounds a few years ago. Despite it working okay, I wasn’t crazy that the coffee smell never went away, nor that it still looked like coffee grounds. Added to that, it wasn’t a cheap option when making a lot of faux planters. Fast forward years later when I had a light bulb moment; what if I used potting soil and glue? The curious crafty side of me was dying to try my idea!
Hi, and welcome! I’m Lisa from The Old Tree Cottage. For me, being crafty means a love for experimenting and trying new things, which somewhat sums me up! I’m excited to share with you my best faux dirt recipe.
Supplies for the best faux dirt recipe
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- White Elmer’s glue or a wood glue that dries clear. Note: Elmer’s clear glue will not work because it doesn’t seem to set. Elmer’s school glue or Elmer’s glue-all glue works.
- Potting soil
- Old container to mix potting soil and glue
- Old measuring cup
How much potting soil will you need?
Before you begin, figure out how much dirt you need for each faux planter. I’ve found the easiest way is to add dry potting soil to each planter, fill it to the top with soil, and add 1/4 to 1/3 more dirt. It’s not a hard and fast rule; it’s just a guideline. The reason you add extra soil is so that you can compact it once you’ve mixed in the glue. Compacting the soil reduces the chance of it cracking over time.
Mixing the potting soil with glue
This faux dirt recipe is thick yet dries within a few hours, depending on the size of the planter. Note: if you add too much glue to the potting soil, there’s a good chance it won’t dry.
- Mix the potting soil and glue in an old bowl.
- Keep adding glue and mixing until all the soil is moist and there are no lumps of glue.
- It’s ready when you can shape it into a ball. (Think cookie dough!) Note: if you’d prefer to measure, try about four parts potting soil to one part glue.
Some tips when working with faux dirt
- Compact the soil mixture in the planter to prevent the chance of the soil cracking down the road.
- Add your faux plant before the glue dries, then after it’s dry, take it out and use a glue gun to secure it.
- For bigger containers, try using florist foam for part of it and add the faux dirt on top.
- It’s easy to clean the bowl and fork used for mixing if you do it right away.
Well? How easy was that?
If you’re looking for ideas for using faux dirt, I have a couple of tutorials you might want to check out. One uses tree branches for the planter, and the other is made from upcycling a small cat food tin.