Recently my old concrete bird bath developed a leak and wouldn't hold water any more. It was a beautiful feature in the garden that I didn't want to part with, so I turned it into a planter for succulents! Being shallow and made from warmth retaining concrete, it was the perfect planter for these heat loving types of plants.
I was very fortunate to find these 'tiles' of succulent plantings at my local home improvement store. They were trays of assorted succulents all growing together. If you can't find something like that, simply buy your succulents in individual pots. I recommend buying small pots, as you will be planting them in a shallow bird bath and they will need shallow roots.
Every region has it's own unique type of succulents suited to the climate. We have cool and sometimes wet summers here, so our succulent mix consists of hardier and moisture tolerant types.
If you have to plant individual pots, leave some space between each type for them to spread.
For planting I used a 'cactus mix' potting soil as succulents require good drainage.
I also placed a layer of gravel in the bird bath first. I used gravel from my driveway, but you can use any type of gravel. You can buy small bags in the planting section of any home improvement store.
Lay down a good 1" layer of rock. If your birdbath is not as shallow as mine, put down a 2" layer. Good drainage is a must.
Next add your cactus mix. Heap it up towards the center. You want it to slope down towards the sides for better drainage.
Because I had the little bird statue in the center, I wanted to raise that up a bit so it wouldn't be concealed, so I added an overturned pot to the center to serve as a base for the statue.
I cut my succulent tiles in half from underneath by running a pair of unopened garden shears in a line, separating the roots, then pulled the two sections apart. That left me with 4 equal sections. (I had two tiles.)
I filled in around the pot and the separated tiles with more cactus mix, patting everything tightly and shoring the edges up with small stones that I wedged in around the sides.
You can see the stones here. As time goes on, the succulents will trail over the edges and fill in the bare spots. I placed my bird on top of the overturned pot and I was done!
A beautiful new succulent garden from a leaky bird bath!
This winter when the rains start up again, I will find a dry place in a sunny spot to overwinter my new garden. (Under the eaves or under the edge of a deck overhang.)
To fertilize your new garden, use a tomato fertilizer at half strength once in the early spring and again in midsummer. You can easily increase your succulent supply by gently pulling off any branches with visible 'roots' and sticking them in potted cactus mix and keeping them watered until established.
Large clay plant saucers make great 'pots' for succulents using the same planting techniques as for the bird bath. Just remember to over winter your new friends in a dry, sunny spot.
And don't forget to water them every so often. Even though they love the heat, they still need a drink now and again. Once a week if there is no rain. (Less often in winter - once every two to three weeks)
I hope this inspires you to create your own bird bath garden!