Hypertufa Trough Gardens

Tools Needed:

Wheelbarrow or large tub; rubber gloves; water bucket; small shovel or trowel to mix, plastic to line mod and cover floor if necessary; Portland cement; perlite; peat moss; assorted containers to use as molds

Mix Materials:  Several formulas can be used to create ”hypertufa” artificial stone containers.  Here are three.

            1 part Black Gold Peat Moss, 2 parts Black Gold Perlite, 1 part Portland cement (as used in our pre-mix)

1 part Black Gold Peat Moss, 1 part Black Gold Sand, 1 part Portland Cement (Sandstone appearance)

1 part Black Gold Peat Moss, 3 parts Black Gold Perlite, 1 ˝ parts Portland Cement ( more rocky apperance)

Concrete tips:  Wear rubber gloves and avoid contact with eyes and skin.  Mix gently to avoid stirring up dust, which can be harmful to lungs.  Avoid mixing on windy days or in extremely hot or cold weather because the concrete will set incorrectly.  The ideal temperature is between 45 and 85 degrees.

Choose a thick-sided container to use as a mold. 

Cardboard boxes, wicker baskets, pots, pans or anything bowl-shaped may be used to capture the image that you want to create.

Line the mold with thick plastic sheeting. 

Trash/grocery bags will work, however, turn the printed side away from the hypertufa surface because the print will transfer to the concrete.  At this point, you may wish to use fern fronds, moss or leaves/needles to leave their imprint on the outside of the container.  Simply place them in the location you prefer and add the completed mix.

In a wheelbarrow, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with your hands or shovel before adding water. 

Add water gradually until it is of working consistency.  A “cottage cheese” texture works best.  If the mixture is too dry it will be weak – add a little more water; if it is too wet it will be hard to mold – add cement

With a shovel, fill the mold to about two-thirds full. 

Shape by hand packing the concrete tightly and pressing it up the sides so the walls are about 2 inches thick.  Add concrete by hand to complete the trough.

Poke a finger in the bottom to check depth

Fill in the hole if you want the pot to hold water.  Leave it for drainage if it is to be a planter.

Decorate the edge or inside of the basin if you are making a water feature container or a birdbath

Press in river rock, seashells, tile, pottery shards or other interesting objects as desired.  Try to finish within 15 minutes, before the concrete begins to set.

Loosely cover the pot with plastic and leave it on the mold, in a shaded spot, for 2 to 3 days to cure and strengthen

In hot weather spray it with water periodically.  At this point, the hypertufa will still be shapeable.  Carefully remove the trough from the mold.  Cleanout the drain hole(s).  With a file, stiff wire brush, or other tool, gently “weather’ the sharp edges and add texture as desired for a naturally-aged look.  Cover the trough again, and allow to harden for another 7-10 days.  Wash the trough with white vinegar to neutralize the cement and make it plant friendly.

Landscaping Suggestions:

An “old” growth of moss can be quickened on the surface of the finished container by blending 1 part fresh, clean, green moss with 1 part milk-based culture (yogurt, buttermilk, etc) to the consistency of a milkshake.  Paint or pour mixture onto your new “old” trough for a weathered look.

Use Black Gold All Purpose, All Organic or CocoBlend Potting Soil to achieve the best results with the newest addition to decorate your yard.

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