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Hypertufa Troughs

Hypertufa Troughs

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Published by Nadia Giordana
How to make a Hypertufa Trough
How to make a Hypertufa Trough

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Published by: Nadia Giordana on Jun 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Hypertufa Planters and Troughs1.For your mold, you will need 2 plastic storage bins (one smaller than the other) like the kind youcan find at Target stores.2.Make a basic dry mixture of three parts perlite, three parts, peat moss, and two parts Portlandcement in a large plastic tub. Work with a drop cloth, because this is a very messy job, and wear amask to avoid breathing in harmful cement dust. Working outside or in a garage is best.3.Always wear heavy duty rubber gloves and never handle the mixture with your bare hands (cementis caustic). Add water to the dry ingredients to form a cement mixture that is the consistency of mud pies. It will dry to a lighter shead. This is the time you can add color if you want. Cementcolor works best. I prefer a mottled, uneven, natural, look so I buy 2 different cement colors andshake them from their bottles randomly and unevenly into the mixture. I then mix lightly so thecoloring will be sure to be uneven.4.To begin building your trough, place the larger plastic storage bin on the drop cloth with theopening facing up. To make the bottom of the trough, pour in a one-inch layer of cement. Cutthree-quarter-inch mesh chicken wire to the same shape as the box, but one inch smaller on allsides. Place it on top of the first layer of wet cement for reinforcement. Then top this with another one-inch layer of cement. Lightly smooth the surface to make it even. (I have successfully made atrough without reinforcement by making the bottom 3 inches thick—but this adds to the weight of the trough.)5.Place the smaller plastic storage bin inside the large one and center it. Ideally, you should be ableto fill in the sides to a thickness of about 2 to 2 ½ inches. If your walls are at least 2 inches thick,they won’t need to be reinforced. Use a trowel to fill the mold with cement. Use an old broomstick stick to tamp it down around the edges to eliminate air pockets.6.Smooth the top edges. Cover the mold with a plastic sheet so that it remains moist white thecement sets. Let the trough cure for about 24 to 26 hours. Then carefully remove it from the molds.It is very fragile at this point so be careful. To make drainage holes, use a power drill fitted with amasonry bit. Drill several holes in the bottom carefully. To make the trough look more naturallyworn and aged, take a wire brush and vigorously ‘work’ the outer surfaces, top and edges to softenany hint of the mold it came from (see photo). You can do as much or as little of this as your artistic bent prefers.7.Then leave it alone for a week before you handle it again. Ideally, make this in the fall of the year, put it in a corner of your yard to be exposed to the elements all winter. This will assure that the PHof the trough becomes neutral and better for planting in. In the spring, fill with dirt and palnt withflowers…or make it into a small rock garden.Cover the drainage holes with crockery or wire screen. If you’re planting alpines, the soil mixture shouldgenerally be both organically rich and well drained. Consult a nursery specialist to determine which alpine perennials grow best in your region. Choose plants with a slow growth rate. Young plants in 2’/4-inch potsarc an ideal size for starting out. (If you put other sorts of plants in troughs, plant them as described for terra-cotta.)Fill the trough nearly to the rim with the soil mix. Arrange rocks, if you desire, on top. A rule of thumb isthat rocks in nature, like icebergs, are mostly below ground. For a "natural" look, bury up to two-thirds of 

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