This Is A Great "First" Project To Try — Get Acquainted With Hypertufa
I’m going to cover the various ways you can easily make a hypertufa trough. This garden art project certainly is a good one for the ‘tufa beginner, as it doesn’t entail much more in skill than applying the hypertufa to the sides and bottom of your mold.
The hypertufa trough’s shape is dependent upon the mold you choose. (Makes sense, huh?) Keep in mind the plants you are planning on planting in it when choosing your mold. You don’t want to end up with too small of a trough.
You have two options in mold making: you can cover the exterior or the interior of your mold with the ‘tufa mixture. Also keep this in mind, as it will affect the final size of the trough. Your trough will be a few sizes smaller than the mold if you apply the ‘tufa to the interior. And obviously larger than the mold if you apply it to the exterior. Either way works very well.
Some of the “ready-made” mold choices that are acceptable for this project are:
- Cardboard boxes
- Styrofoam ice-chests
- Plastic containers/planters
- Plastic dish pans
- Plastic kitty litter pans
You can make your own molds with:
- Wood (screw the pieces together)
- Polystyrene foam used for house insulation
- Large sheets of styrofoam
A great idea for a reusable form: Butt the edges of your (4) pre-cut rigid foam sections; hold the edges together with bamboo or metal cooking skewers, or large nails; then wrap duct tape around the outside for added stability. Put this 4-sided form on a piece of plywood for a removable base.
Building Your Hypertufa Trough
Follow These Simple Steps and Your Project Will Be A Success
You’ll need to prepare your mold before you mix up your ‘tufa recipe! Please read: Preparing Your Mold
Refer to the Hypertufa Recipes and Mixing Guidelines pages to choose a recipe for this hypertufa trough project.
Remember: wear gloves at all times! Disposable latex gloves work great when applying hypertufa and allow you more dexterity than the heavy gloves used for mixing. Hypertufa Safety Guidelines
If you are covering the exterior of the mold with ‘tufa, turn it upside down on your work surface so you’re able to cover the bottom. Begin building the mixture around the base of the mold, gradually building up the sides and over the top. Pat and press, pat and press the mixture as you work along. The desired thickness of ‘tufa is about 1½ inches.
If you’re applying ‘tufa to the inside of your mold, keep it upright. Begin building the mixture on the bottom of the mold, gradually building up the sides. Pat and press, pat and press the mixture as you work along. The desired thickness of ‘tufa is about 1½ inches.
Make sure the corners are as thick as the sides. You don’t want weak areas in your trough due to the hypertufa not being applied thickly enough.
Keep the base as flat and smooth as you can. This is especially important if you are applying the hypertufa to the exterior of your mold.
Great tip: Use a bamboo barbeque skewer, or similar thin object, marked at 1-1/2 inches, to poke through the ‘tufa, allowing you to check the thickness of the walls as you are applying it. This will help insure that you are keeping your entire project 1-1/2″ thick.
When you’re finished, if you desire a smoother look to your hypertufa trough, smooth the surfaces with semi-wet fingers.
Create drainage holes: using short lengths of ½” – 1″ dia. dowels, poke the dowels through the ‘tufa until they touch the base of your mold. The larger the trough, the more drainage holes I’d suggest you include. If you don’t have dowels, use whatever you have on hand that can create holes — no one is going to see them anyway when your trough is planted. They don’t have to be perfectly shaped.
Alright. You’re almost done … 🙂
On to the final step … curing. For proper curing and handling of your hypertufa trough, please refer to Guidelines for Curing Hypertufa Successfully