Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hypertufa Pots

I finally made the hypertufa pots (sometimes called troughs) I have been talking about for over a year. . . and I LOVE them.  I may make more at some point, but the ones I wanted first were to line my front walk.

First you need to decide what forms you will use for your pots.  You can use buckets or boxes or a cooler or whatever, you just need to cover them in plastic so the cement mixture does not stick to it.  I wanted two the same shape and size so I used some very large cardboard boxes to make four smaller boxes--two to fit inside the other two with a 2 inch gap.

Next you need to ingredients:

Peat Moss
Portland Cement (pure portland cement)

Mix and a 1:1:1 ratio. 

Add water a little at a time until your mixture is at about cottage cheese consistency:

Pour into bottom of box or other form and then place the inside box onto it and fill the sides.  At this point you could make dowels the thickness you want your pot to be (mine is 2") and stick them in the bottom--this will also keep your upper box in the proper place so it doesn't get too close to the lower box.

My upper box keep wanting to lift up so I filled it with a enough bricks to keep the edges even and the bottoms two inches apart.  I also placed logs around the edges to keep the sides from bowing too much.  If you have a hard container this won't be much of a problem.

Then you cover it with plastic and let cure for 24 - 48 hours depending on the size.  Mine was rather large so I let it sit for two days.

Remove from form:

The edges will be crisp where they met box or plastic.  To make it look old, like the old animal trough it is trying to simulate, I roughed up the edges and sides with a wire brush--Rob got me started:

See! No more crisp edges.  Now it looks older. . . and better.

While it is still kind of soft (it is not totally dry at this point) drill a hole or two in the bottom for drainage (unless you went the dowel route).

Now let is cure for 3-5 days, keeping wet by spraying down with water a couple times a day to help it cure.  Portland cement actually become harder and more durable when exposed to water.

Then plant!  Here is mine in front of my house filled with two kinds of sedum:

I am all about symmetry so I placed one on each side of the walk. . . the very dirty walk.  (Next project: Clean up front walk!)

Living in Washington I probably don't need to bother doing anything to encourage moss to grow on my pots, but I may anyway.  To do that, mix in a blender a chunk of moss with either beer or yogurt and brush on the surface of the pot.  I will let you know if I try one of those and it works.  For now I like the way they look and may just let them age naturally.

While I was looking for succulents to plant in my pots I came across instructions on making a living succulent wreath. . . I have become intrigued. . . I think I have another project on my to do list. . . 

Let me know if you try a pot and tell my how it turns out!