Friday, 6 April 2012

Making Hypertufa containers for the garden

My Mother loves to work in her garden. Once she retired she took a course to qualify as a Master Gardner and is now the President of the local garden club where she lives. I had the chance to attend one of their meeting while visiting and saw the ladies making Hypertufa containers, which look like cement planting containers but they are much lighter.

These ones were made last year and have been planted.

This type of container is a substitute for the natural volcanic rock called Tufa. Tufa has been used for making Alpine style planting troughs.

The recipe the garden club used to make these containers is as follows:
1 part Perlite
1 part vermiculite
1 part screened peat moss
1 part Portland cement
1 small handful of nylon fibers
Mix with water until thick consistency of Peanut butter (don't add too much water as it will take longer to dry) I would also recommend wearing gloves to mix this up, the club had access to a cement mixer:)

I am sure you can find other recipes on the web but this is what the club did.

Any container can be used. Some people made molds like this to use

While I made mine around these containers

If you use store bought container wrap in plastic bags. We also used small plastic piping to make water drainage holes

If your mold can come apart like this one no plastic bag is required but remember to add something to make drainage holes. It can be drilled in later but you risk breaking the mold:(

Begin adding the mixture, pressing firmly on the bottom, it is best to have about 2 inches on the bottom for sturdiness.

Add spacers to the inside to make walls if making your own mold. The sticks were for spacing only. Need about 1 inch thickness on the sides of a mold.

It was pretty easy to work around my round molds:)

Once molds are completed cover with plastic and let sit for 24 hours.

Some people added glass or tile decorations to their molds.

24 hours later remove the hypertufa from the mold.
Be careful these are still fragile and too much force will break them. We had 2 or 3 casualties in the club:(

Pulling my plastic covered container away from the mold. If you are careful you can also remove the plastic piping you used to make water holes or leave them in if you prefer.

To tidy up your mold use a wire brush to brush away any extra bits, can use a lighter to burn away any fiber particles seen if you chose.

Finish pieces

Once the molds have been removed re cover in plastic, place in a dry location, and let stand for 30 days for the mold to completely dry out. Once dry it should be a more gray color and very hard.

Then add your plants:)

If you look on the web you can find some amazing gardens done with these type of planters.

I won't be able to see the final finished piece until my next visit. I was so glad I was able to help make something for my Mother's garden:).


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  2. Found this via hip homeschool hop...we are in the midst of several spring gardening projects (come see us at and love the idea here. I like the ability to add your own decor and personalize it a bit. This seems like the perfect way to tackle our next project, the herb garden. Do you know of the top of your head the cost for supplies?

    1. Sorry don't know the cost as the garden club bought all this at bulk prices but they were making over 50 containers for a future project. You can buy smaller bags of everything at garden centers.