DIY Penny Balls for Your Garden

Penny balls are quick and easy to make! They look beautiful in your garden, and they also repel slugs and will make hydrangea flowers blue. I found many samples to inspire me on Pinterest, most made with bowling balls, but I thought Smoothfoam would be the perfect base for my penny garden ball. Weatherproofing the Smoothfoam with varnish will make it safe to use outdoors. Mine has been in my garden now for almost 2 years, year-round, and still looks great! The pennies have a bit of a patina, but the foam is still intact, which is just what I wanted.
6″ Smoothfoam ball -
Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Spray Paint – Satin Brown Boots
Marine Varnish by EarthSafe Finishes
Beacon 527 Adhesive
Paint brush
1. Spray the ball with brown spray paint and let dry.
2. Apply a coat of Marine Varnish over the entire surface of painted ball and let dry.
3. Glue the pennies to the ball and let dry.
4. Apply a coat of Marine Varnish over the pennies and let dry.

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Cindi McGee

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

11 questions
  • Roxi
    on Dec 27, 2015

    I have no clue what these are suppose to mean. What do you do with them? I am lost completely.

    • Cindi McGee
      on Dec 27, 2015

      @Roxi It is a garden accent - the pennies actually help repel slugs which can damage your garden plants, and as another reader just shared with me, shiny pennies keep away flies and mosquitos too apparently!

    • Dee Ann Kennemer McFalls
      on Nov 25, 2019

      Ah, when you mentioned flies and mosquitoes, I decided I’m gonna have to make these. I may have penny balls all over the place, lol!

  • Margie
    on Dec 27, 2015

    where did you get the rabbit?

    • Cindi McGee
      on Dec 27, 2015

      @Margie Isn't he cute? :0) It was a gift, not sure where my mom got it though - sorry!

    • Julie Moyna
      on Apr 5, 2016

      @margie look on eBay!! Also, hobby lobby before Easter!

  • Katherine Howard Jones
    on Dec 28, 2015

    I wonder if the copper is still effective for the purpose you mentioned if varnished? Are your Hydrangeas blue?

    • Cindi McGee
      on Dec 28, 2015

      @Katherine Howard Jones Well, I honestly have NOT had a slug problem and mine is varnished. Mine is in my rose & perennial garden, so it has not effected my hydrangea. I honestly have been thinking about making a much smaller one to tuck under the hydrangea bush, which is also very small right now, and see if it makes a difference!

    • Katherine Howard Jones
      on Dec 29, 2015

      @Cindi McGee My Mom used to put nails and pennys under the Hydrangeas in our back. They are a variety of colors - wonderful colors when the cold spell hits suddenly. Good luck on yours. I love the idea of the penny balls. Thanks!

    • Liz Pawsey
      on Apr 6, 2016

      I just read this and will add my 'penny's' worth of knowledge. I live in the tropics and we use an ioniser in our swimming pool. This has solar power and puts a small electric charge through the copper rod which is in the water. Copper is deadly to algae but effects very little else. I could put one of these in a fish pond and the fish will be very happy while the algae is kept at bay. I suspect the copper pennies are doing the same in the garden; effecting slugs, fungis/mold etc; but I think I'd try to only varnish the top of the pennies and let natural decay happen on the sides so the garden benefits from the copper ions released.

    • Steve
      on Aug 12, 2016

      Do not add this to a fish pond!!! Copper is toxic to fish. You would have a mass die off of all your fish.

  • Renee
    on Dec 31, 2015

    What kind of glue did you use to adhere the pennies? I can't see that. Beautiful, piece. I don't like the mettallc looking globles in gardens. This is exceptional. Kind wishes, Renee. New Years Eve in Orlando, breaking all time records 87°.

    • Cindi McGee
      on Jan 3, 2016

      @Renee Hi Renee! I used Beacon Adhesives 527 to hold my pennies down. It is a very similar product to E-6000 adhesive. Smells bad, but works great and again, has held up over 2 years in NC weather year round - I have lost about 3 pennies, which I glued back on. :0)

  • Tammy Hudson Edwards
    on Apr 5, 2016

    How big an area will the penny ball help against slugs?

    • Cindi McGee
      on Apr 6, 2016

      I honestly don't know the answer to that for sure - but my garden is maybe 4 feet wide by 10 foot long (irregular shaped, but about that) and I have had very little issue, so it's worked for me at least. If you have a huge slug problem, two other things that have worked for me are putting a ring of kitty litter around the base of the plant (it tears up the slugs) and/or putting small saucers of beer (yes, BEER) out at night - they LOVE beer. You get up in the morning and the saucer is full of bloated dead slugs - gross, I know - but they are at least not on your plants!

    • Gethsemane20010
      on May 21, 2016

      They say lava rock does real well. They don't like the roughness.

    • Patty
      on Sep 20, 2016

      I save eggs shells, then crush them up and toss handfuls all over the garden. The eggshells will also repel by having edges too jagged for their slimy bellies!

    • Pat
      on Jan 25, 2017

      Garden sand and cornmeal around plants or beds. Again it is rough on their bellies and tears them up. Both items help with soil also.

    • Sarah Jane
      on Aug 8, 2017

      Diatomaceous earth is supposed to work on both snails and slugs. I believe it is available anywhere they sell swimming pool supplies.

    • Sandyo
      on Aug 13, 2017

      Diatomaceous earth over surface in pots NOT WORKING. I think maybe slugs live ON the plants and don't take walks ON the soil? arrrgh
    • MK McDonald
      on Aug 29, 2017

      Stand by my shallowly buried shallow dishes of beer. Slugfest! 🐌
      on Jun 9, 2018

      can u just throw the pennies in the garden?

  • Sandra Perriera
    on Apr 6, 2016

    I've seen where they use a Bowling Ball instead of the foam that it stands up to the outdoor elements

    • Cindi McGee
      on Apr 6, 2016

      Yes, many people use bowling balls, but I can honestly tell you that after 2 seasons now of being outside in the garden year round, through winter weather, etc. my Smoothfoam penny ball is still just FINE. It's held up to the elements wonderfully! I liked that it was more lightweight and I could make it in different sizes than a bowling ball, plus the Smoothfoam balls are easier to find than bowling balls (unless of course you happen to have one lol!)

    • Sandra Perriera
      on Apr 7, 2016

      Would broken CD's work?

    • Cindi McGee
      on Apr 27, 2017

      They would work for decorative purposes, but would not have the same "repellant" benefits. I bet it would look like a sparkly disco ball :)
  • Susie
    on Apr 27, 2017

    Isn't there still SOME copper in the pennies?? I think maybe there is? Just asking.
    • Cindi McGee
      on Apr 27, 2017

      I'm assuming there is - they have aged a bit despite being sealed and gotten the green patina, which I do not believe they would have done without any copper content.

    • Susie
      on Apr 28, 2017

      I think you're right about the copper with green patina; I bet that just adds to the COOL look of the penny sphere! 👌😊
    • Lisa Cantrell
      on Aug 8, 2017

      yes, there is some copper, it still costs more to make a penny than it is worth though.
    • Thomas
      on Aug 6, 2019

      New pennies have brry little copper on the outside covering a zinc inside

  • Cheryl Keller
    on Nov 30, 2017

    Will clear gorilla glue work and can you spray a clear coat over it?

    • Cindi McGee
      on Nov 30, 2017

      I have not tried it, but if it is a quick drying adhesive, especially a gel adhesive, I think it would work fine. I found the gel to be better at holding the pennies firm while the glue dried. You could spray it with a clear coat and it should not be a problem. Several people have commented that sealing it will cause it to not have the desired effect on hydrangeas or slugs, but I can tell you that mine has been clear coated, has been in our garden for several years, year round in all weather, and I have had no degrading of the Smoothfoam ball, and my hyrdrangea is in fact blue and I have had basically no slug problem! Perhaps it's just luck (maybe from all those lucky pennies lol!), but either way I love how it looks in my garden with all my other electric garden items :)
  • Rose Marie
    on Jul 3, 2019

    How many of these do you need in a vegetable garden? Slugs are eating up my green beans and a few other plants. One for each plant?

    • Denita Kiser Carter
      on Jul 15, 2019

      Egg shells will deter slugs. I keep mine year round and put them out in my garden. You can also fill up a small tin of beer and sit them around your vegetables or flowers. They love beer and will go straight to it. I find several in each tin of beer in the mornings. Just refill after disposing of the dead slugs and after a rain.

    • Meem Kaplan
      on Sep 30, 2019

      I'm glad the eggshells work for you. The slugs around here aren't deterred at all with them. I use beer. IT's gross but so are the slugs! I used to have chickens to take care of them. Never had any grow big cuz they ate the little ones. Hubby didn't like the chickens so they are gone and now I'm buying beer for slugs. Oh well. I did think about lining the flower beds with pennies and I may do that but I won't coat them... I think that defeats the purpose but I don't know that for a fact. I do like the penny balls for décor in the yard, though! Quite cute!

    • Kathy Lanora Thomas
      on Dec 5, 2019

      Table salt like a line of table salt along the edge of the flower bed as slugs won't cross it because it will make them dissolve. Did you try leaving the egg shells in a courser grind I know you're not grinding them up but when you do your egg shells just break them up and a medium pieces. Not really big don't make them too fine. You want it to be uncomfortable. Scrapes up the slugs underside. You can also use anything that is abrasive.

    • Donna
      on Jan 14, 2020

      I tried epsom salts in my garden and it really helped with the slugs and the magnesium helped my plants. :) I may try to pennies around, maybe smaller balls.

    • Laurel Galvan
      on Mar 6, 2020

      I agree about not coating the pennies with a sealer/varnish. The copper pennies need the leach the copper for them to work.

    • Susan
      on Apr 18, 2020

      Another alternative to the slug problem: Put down empty tuna or cat food cans, add pour beer into can to about 1/2 full (old stale beer is fine). Next morning check the cans and you will find dead slugs in the cans.

    • Rose Marie
      on Apr 19, 2020

      Thank you!

    • Miss E
      on May 15, 2020

      i was thinking if varnishing pennys, is it the varnish that is taking care of the slugs? I also think I will just toss pennys into garden . Cute ball for garden though

    • Amanda Nations
      on Jun 5, 2020

      Better yet, I dump my beer-slug soup into my compost bin!

  • Angela Colello
    on Jul 21, 2019

    Do you polish the pennies or mix old with new? Also is it heavy enough for a windy day to stay put

  • Jane Toomajanian
    on Feb 1, 2020

    If you varnish over the pennies, will it still repel the slugs?

    • Cindy
      on May 15, 2020

      I think she varnished the ball to seal it BEFORE she put the pennies on.

    • Barbara Burgess
      on May 31, 2020

      Good question...She said that she varnished it again after she put the pennies on.

Join the conversation

2 of 117 comments
  • Betty Neu
    on Jun 12, 2020

    I will try this project! Thank you for the complete instructions with a list of the supplies and where to find them. Betty

  • Sharon Lane-eckert
    on Aug 22, 2020

    I have a lot of penny's. I had glass top coffee and end tables, I cover the tops with penny's, I Love them, so many people comments about them. Sharon

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