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Hypertufa Planters

Hypertufa is a lightweight concrete product made by combining cement, peat moss and other aggregates such as sand, perlite, and vermiculite in differing amounts. This mixture is then hand-cast into a variety of shapes which, when dry, can resemble ancient stone or aged concrete. Attractive, lightweight, and durable, Hypertufa planters provide a natural look compatible with outdoor surroundings.

History - Recipe For Hypertufa - Material List - Method

Historical Information

Hypertufa is a man made substitute for Tufa rock. Tufa is a spongy cellular rock found in limestone country and especially where water has been involved in the wearing and leaching out of the original materials to effect a porous spongy consistency. In many countries throughout the world this natural stone has for centuries been hollowed out and carved for tubs and planters and decorative stepping stones.

Hyper is a prefix meaning, over or beyond. Hypertufa is a mixture of cement, sand and peat moss. For hundreds of years tufa rock was used in Ireland and England to carve animal watering troughs. Then gardeners started using it to make stunning antique looking pots and urns for their back yard gardens. After the supply of tufa started to diminish folks looked for a way to make it. Since tufa was created with limestone deposits and plant matter, the formula of cement and peat moss and sand became a viable alternative.

Recipes for Hypertufa

There are a number of recipes to produce hypertufa, but the following is probably among the simplest, and produces very pleasing results.

Hypertufa Recipe

1 - 4 litre pail of cement

1 -4 litre pail of coarse sand

1-4 litre pail of fine sand

1 - 4 litre pail of peat moss

Water

4 litres is equal to an ice cream pail.

Hypertufa Recipes

Hypertufa Mix Designs and Recipes

Hypertufa Recipes

Material List

Supplies need include the following:

Your recipe ingredients

A bucket or ice cream pail

Plastic forms

Duct Tape

Galvanized chicken wire

Roll Of Plastic

Cooking Spray

Wire Cutters

Screwdrivers

Rasp or File

Wheelbarrow or large Tub

Rigid plastic forms, such as an old baby bath, hand basin or storage containers work best. Some instructions talk about using cardboard boxes placed on inside the other .Let's see, water, wet cement, cardboard ...looks like a big mess to me.

Styrofoam containers work well, but are difficult to remove and therefore not reusable. Try to choose a mould with a wide rim, if not , use duct tape to widen the rim.

Method

Gather all your supplies. This is a messy job, and once the mix is applied, you cannot move your planter for 2 or 3 days. Choose a suitable spot, such as a large picnic table covered in plastic. You may want to work in the shade, as this can be a work-out.

Remember that you are covering the exterior of your mould.

Place the form upside down on your work surface, after applying duct tape to the top edge to create a smooth outward curve of approx 1 inch.

Construct your wire cage, slightly larger than the mould, as it will be sandwiched between layers of mud.

Keep the wire about 2 inches away from the bottom edge of the form, this will be the top of your finished planter, and you may need to file off any excess mix after it has cured.

Apply spray oil to the plastic mould.

Layer the ingredients into your wheelbarrow ( I use a garden cart, because it is deeper).

Do not start with cement as it will stick to the bottom.

Mix dry ingredients, and slowly add water until it reaches a consistency in which you can squeeze out drops of water. The mixture should be slightly wet, but not runny, it is easier to work with than too dry.

Starting at the bottom, pat handful of mud on the oil mould. It will slip and slide, but continue until you have at least a 1/2" layer of mix covering your form.

Place the chicken wire frame over the mixture, trim loose wires, or tuck them in, so you don't poke your hands, or have exposed wires showing through your finished product.

If the wire knocks off some of the first layer, don't worry, as yo can easily repair it with the second layer.

Apply second layer of mix to cover the wire cage, your finished product should be approximately 2 inches thick.

Pay attention to your corners as they are apt to be thin. Take extra care with the bottom (your finished top) excess can be filed off, but voids will need to be patched with cement mix later.

Apply feet to the bottom of your planter, such as brick or 4 equally sized stones and cement over the feet.

Wetting your hands with water will leave a smoother surface.

Punch a drainage hole through to the plastic mould using a broom stick handle.

Wrap your finished product in a layer of plastic and leave if for about 24 hours.

When do you release the mould? This depends on the weather and the temperature, after 24 hours remove the plastic to allow the surface to dry. After a couple of hours of air drying, carefully right the container. Using an old table knife, or a putty knife, scrape off any debris from the rim.

Pry out the plastic form, because you oiled it, should slip out easily. Use a screwdriver or awl to finishing poking out the drain holes. Leave any filing for a few more hours until the cement has lost its green damp look.

Have extra flat bottomed moulds such as a 5 gallon pail available to make stepping stones with leftover mix. Pour 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches deep, with a layer of chicken wire in the middle, if available.

Use rubber gloves if the cement mix bothers your hands. Keep your garden hose close by to wash your hands often.

Experiment with colour, cement colour is available or stucco colorant works just as well and comes in numerous colours in smaller containers.

Try adding broken ceramics, marbles, or broken coloured glass, pressed into the wet cement.

You can also try making your own "bricks" in a shallow mould, to be used on your next project. The ideas are endless. Be creative!

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