Hypertufa Projects

So, you’ve finished landscaping your backyard and garden. But there’s still something missing! The plants and flowers are all in place, the rock walls and paths are there, but it still just looks like any other garden or backyard. You need to add a few things to make it yours, and you can do so by completing a few easy hypertufa projects.

various hypertufa planters on displayA distinctive looking hypertufa garden trough that you created yourself would make a great centerpiece, wouldn’t it? You could spend your evenings relaxing, in your garden marveling at your own creation haha.

You know what? That corner of your garden is a little bare; maybe a nice hypertufa statue would look good there.

Yes indeed, you can make your own garden sculpture using hypertufa. It’s really not that difficult. With the right training instructions and a little practice, you will be able to produce all sorts of hypertufa sculptures.

However, I recommend that you make something simple for your first two or three hypertufa projects such as little pots, troughs and stepping stones. Once you get the hang of handling and working with the material, you can begin working on more sophisticated hypertufa garden craft ideas like sculptures and such.

Speaking of hypertufa instructions, I just thought I should let you know that there’s this wonderful downloadable guidebook that teaches you comprehensively from A to Z on how to mold and design a wide range of hypertufa garden art creations.

You can check it out for yourself here.

The guide is extremely detailed and easy to follow. You know I had a quite a number of DIY garden art ideas floating in my head and some of them have become a reality—I created them all by myself—thanks to this guidebook.

hypertufa projects

a basic and functional hypertufa planter

Hypertufa mold ideas, instructions, projects,  and what have you­—they are all well laid out in that download-only guidebook which runs over a hundred plus pages.

Go ahead, and check it out, and find the perfect hypertufa projects for your garden. And before you know it, you’ll have your own little relaxing oasis, your own little retreat from the busy world around you that’s beautifully decorated with exclusive garden crafts made with your own two hands.

Basic Hypertufa Instructions #1: Making a Trough

So in this section, I’ll be giving you a basic guide on producing a sweet looking and functional trough made out of hypertufa. These troughs are not only good for your garden plants; they will also make your garden look real sweet.

Why are hypertufa troughs good for plants? Well, that’s because their porous walls are rather thick. This is definitely a good thing as those walls can serve as sort of a repository between watering and the roots get some proper flow of air around them.

Another terrific thing about hypertufa troughs is that they tend to reel in things like lichen and mosses thus giving them this highly appealing, natural look in your home garden.

Now in order to create the mold for your DIY hypertufa trough, you are going to need a couple of cardboard cartons. One carton has to be smaller than the other. This is important because you want the smaller one to be able to fit inside the bigger one.

A gap of approximately 2 to 2.5 inches around all the edges is necessary because obviously we want the trough’s walls to be sufficiently thick. If you plan on creating a hypertufa trough that’s much bigger in size, then of course the thickness of the wall has to be ramped up a bit more.

Now, you want to grab a piece of plastic sheet and lay it flat on the ground. Next, you put the large cardboard carton on that sheet of plastic. The next thing you want to do is lay some cover around the edge of the large carton with some heavy items. I just use concrete blocks for this.

The reason you want to do this is to ensure that the edges won’t bow out because that’s what’s going to happen once the carton gets damped after you put in the hypertufa mix.

Next on the agenda is to get a shovel and a wheelbarrow. With these two tools at your disposal, mixing hypertufa will be much easier. You can mix them up using your hands if you like but do remember to put on a pair of solid rubber gloves.

Now for the recipe, well the hypertufa recipe mix I’m about to share is pretty strong. Basically for the mix, you want to use a couple gallons of Portland cement, 3 gallons of Perlite, and 3 gallons of sifted peat moss.

In addition, you will need roughly a handful of reinforcing fibers that are loosely packed. Put all these things in your wheelbarrow and use the shovel to really mix them up well.

hypertufa instructionsAfter you’ve done the mixing, you need to add water to it but do so gradually. If you put in too much water right away, the mix will become sloppy. How much water is required? Well, that can only be determined based on the dryness of the peat moss. Also try picking a handful of the hypertufa mix and roll it into a ball. If it holds together well that means you’ve done everything right thus far.

Now fill up the large cardboard carton with the hypertufa mix you just made. The depth of filling should be 2 to 2.5 inches. Don’t forget to make some drainage holes which can easily be done by pushing say, a few small pieces of wood right through the mix. Later you can take out the pieces.

Also don’t forget to compact the hypertufa mix. You can get it well compacted by simply tapping it down with the end of a piece of plank or a lumber. Make sure you tap down areas around the drainage holes and the corners too.

Grab the smaller cardboard carton and put it in the larger one. Pay attention to the gap around all the edges. It should be even so you need to make sure of that. The next step is prevent the smaller cardboard carton from floating up, and you do this by putting a bit of sand in it. This step is also necessary to ensure the sides are well supported.

As you construct the trough’s walls, you must make sure the smaller carton inside is filled with sand bit by bit. The walls should be constructed in a gradual manner and as you progress, be sure to keep compacting the mix using the end of a plank or a lumber. Once you’ve constructed the wall to the height that you like, remove yourself from the trough and let it remain there for a day.

In the meantime you can go do whatever you like. Get a drink, relax, come up with new garden craft ideas, or perhaps work on other hypertufa projects. The following day, return to your soon-to-be-finished trough and take out the sand from the carton. Take it out carefully though, and also get rid of the wet cardboard from the sides, inside and out.

At this point, you need not be concerned with the bottom part. Do not even attempt to remove it or the whole thing will get ruined and all that work you did will be wasted.

If you want to give your DIY hypertufa trough that charming, natural finish, you will need a wire brush to roughen up the edges as well as the sides of the trough. At this point, the sides of the trough can be implemented with whatever designs or patterns you like. Also at this point the trough is fairly fragile, so do take care when implementing those designs.

Finally, leave the trough for 20 to 30 days so that it can cure properly. And that is it. That is how you make your own functional and pretty looking hypertufa trough. This is actually one of the first hypertufa projects I did and it was satisfying and fun.

my first handmade hypertufa trough

Instructions #2: DIY Hypertufa Stepping Stones

When it comes to creating hypertufa stepping stones, well the whole process is much easier than making the trough. Making one-of-a-kind garden stepping stones is also fun and you only need a few simple items to get started.

diy hypertufa stepping stones

The first thing you should do is determine the shape and size of stepping stones you wish to make so that you can create or even buy the right mold for them.

Simple items such as wooden frames and metal pans can be used for making the molds. You can use whatever you like. You are only limited by your imagination. In fact, you can even use wet sand as a mold if you are truly out of ideas.

Mold aside, listed below are other materials that you might need for your DIY hypertufa stepping stones project:

  • Sphagnum moss which is either shredded or long-stemmed (peat moss can also be used for this)
  • Perlite
  • Gravel or fine sand
  • Cement or additional coloring if you’d like
  • An adequately sized container for your mold
  • A mixing spoon or stick
  • Other additional accentuations that you might want to add for further effect
  • Water

Mix all the above ingredients together along with all the additional or optional stuff that you have in mind with water until you get the right consistency. Remember that the mixture should be able to hold or maintain its shape without water leaking on the sides.

Once you’ve attained the right consistency, leave the mixture for about 48 hours to ensure that the required shape is achieved. To strengthen the mix, straw or sawdust can be added into the mixture.

To create the stepping stones, mound some sand on a work board or plastic, and place your mold with the ribbed side on the sand. Put your mixture on the mold that you’ve created ensuring that you follow the mold’s outer edge, and firmly patting down the mixture to allow air bubbles to escape.

Also, remember that the mixture should be one or two inches thick in order to withstand a significant amount of weight. Once the base preparation for your hypertufa stepping stones have sufficiently dried, you’ll need to place another coat of mixture on the top, ending with about three to four inches at the end.

This is to ensure that your mixture will be strong enough to handle a considerable amount of weight that will be applied on it. Allow your hypertufa stepping stone creation to sufficiently dry in order to guarantee satisfactory results.

For added strength, you might want to cover your mold with plastic to keep it damp. While two to three weeks is often enough in terms of drying time, humidity and temperature will affect the drying period, and thus may take longer than a couple of weeks.

Hypertufa Projects FAQ

Which hypertufa projects are the easiest to start with?

I recommend a hypertufa pot or trough to start with. You will be able to find a bowl or box readily around the house to use as a mold. Keep it thick enough and it is nearly fail-safe.

What does it mean when I read about curing and drying?

The process of curing your hypertufa creations occurs in the first 30 days of your creation. It is the bonding that creates a harder material than the materials would be on their own.

I recommend protecting your hypertufa crafts during the curing process by wrapping it in a clean bag or plastic. It is also important to expose your hypertufa projects to the elements for several weeks before use. It is tough but worth the wait.

How long will my hypertufa garden crafts last?

That depends, ten or more years is the goal I have for mine. Weather, handling, and construction of the craft will play roles in it. If the craft is packed nicely, cured and dried properly, and protected from harsh weather and wear, you should see many years out of it.

How do I get started?

Use a very basic recipe when starting out. Once you have created some pieces, you can try some variations to the recipe for creating more hypertufa projects.

Is it safe to grow food plants in?

Yes, I’m a stickler for safety. I recommend you rinse your products repeatedly first with a vinegar and water mix and then repeatedly rinse to remove any residue from the portland cement.

How do I know how thick to make our planters?

I try to stay above 2 inches, since I actually do sell some of my hypertufa creations. I wish to ensure that they have a long life for my customers. Pots and containers under 10 inches can be as thin as 1 inch in order to be balanced aesthetically. But I make sure they are packed well and dried properly.

Do we have to put drain holes in our hypertufa pots?

Even though the materials of your hypertufa crafts are not waterproof, I highly recommend at least one drain hole be placed in the bottom of your planters.  Most plants do not fare well in soil that is overly saturated, and soil can develop molds and fungus if left wet for too long.

What are common mistakes made when working on hypertufa projects?

I see mistakes that are not necessarily deal breakers, but some common problems are too much water. Plus, failure to pack the mix well and removing air bubbles.  Another one is not trimming the thin excess off, it will come off, trust me.

Oh and for goodness sakes, let it dry properly. The time it needs is 15 to 30 days.  If it is not allowed to dry properly, it will absorb water and the integrity of your project will be greatly compromised.

Can my hypertufa creations stay outside in the winter?

I have troughs that remain outdoors full of dirt all winter. In Northern Michigan I enjoy subzero temperatures that fluctuate throughout our winter. I recommend that you don’t leave them full of water. Water when it freezes expands. If anyone has experienced frozen pipes know what that is like.

Can I embed things in my hypertufa creations?

Absolutely! Pack hypertufa around things. Stick broken glass, stones, pine needles, or anything in the mix. You may find it necessary to do some clean up or scraping to make your goodies visible.

I have tons of hypertufa DIY garden art ideas that I want to turn into reality, where can I find a complete, newbie-friendly, step by step guide to help me out?

Go here and you’re sorted. You will be directed to a site where you can download manuals that will provide all the hypertufa instructions, tips and techniques you need to help you succeed.

Stuart Jones

My name is Stuart Jones and I'm the guy responsible for most of the content on this website. I'm a horticulturist with over 25 years of experience in gardening and garden plants. To bring color throughout the year, I regularly grow a wide variety of plants, bulbs, flowers, shrubs and trees. Oh, and let’s not forget the fruits and vegetables to ensure the fridge is always stocked!

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