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Concrete or hypertufa?

Shropshire, England Eng

I’ve seen some lovely stone troughs made from hypertufa, and would like to have a go myself, but …

As I understand it, one has to buy all the ingredients for hypertufa separately and then combine them in the chosen recipe. However, one can buy bags of ready-mix concrete.

Given my total newbie-ness [if that’s not a proper word it should be!] I think I’d prefer to start simple and work my way up to “rolling my own” when I have more confidence and at least a bit more skill.

And given my vision and the warnings I’ve read about Portland cement [why always Portland cement rather than any other type?] I have reservations on a safety as well as a practical level.

Is there a significant difference in the performance of hypertufa over concrete? Enough to persuade me to start in the deep end rather than wade out from the shallow end?



Try your local gc for a peice of tufa, a natural, very soft rock that certain alpines can be grown in, it,s a pale creamy colour and feels crumbly to the touch, I had some years ago, but had to go to north wales to find it.
good luck, derekm

30 Jul, 2011


thanks Derekm. I'd heard of tufa, that it can absorb more water than its own weight, and that one can grow plants directly in it, but hypertufa is some kind of concrete mix for making stone troughs etc - no idea why it's called that, when I first heard the word I assumed it would belike tufa, only even more so!

30 Jul, 2011


Its a mixture of concrete and peat and very much lighter than concrete. If you want to have a go I can send you a photocopy from one of my books that gives you step by step instructions if you send me a private message.

30 Jul, 2011


3 parts peat moss..3 parts perlite, 2 parts Portland Cement, (Portland Cement is a cement powder and i suppose gives a finer finish) and water... mix all together, add the water, mix until you have a mud-pie texture...thats it!...Good for Alpines, as they like the alkalinity of the could use any pot or container as a mould, apply the tufa to the inside of the container, at least 1" thick and dont forget the drainage hole..leave until you think its properly dry and remove the outer pot...and there you have it!!!...hope this helps Fran..:>)

30 Jul, 2011


If you do it this way put corks in the base and drill them out afterwards for your drainage holes.

30 Jul, 2011


Buy a bag of ready mix cement and add two or three times the same amount of humus material - peat, leafmould or composted bark.

31 Jul, 2011


thanks Bulbaholic! well, thanks all, but that really cuts my Gordian knot. I've checked up on hypertufa and found lots of dedicated sites as well as random recipes and pictures, all of which added up to confusion - would I have to go out and buy dried moss? and some of the sites named ingredients that I'd never heard of.

Also I'd found some health and safety warnings about Portland cement - given that my visual range for detailed work is about three-four inches in good light, I was worried about the inhalatation risk. Still, I suppose it's the same level of risk as working with plaster of paris, and I've done that, though wearing a dust mask.

I've got some fish boxes that I scrounged from local shops, plus a stack of ventilted plastic food crates of various sizes, all just waiting for me to make up my mind on what the flip to do with 'em.

*s* What I didn't want is what I seem to have a habit of doing: getting all the gear for a project but never quite getting round to doing it because of not being confident enough to actually get started. Oh, the craft projects I thought of, and have all the stuff for!

31 Jul, 2011


*s* I'm a stage nearer now ... bought a pack of corks to put in the bottom of the tray to make the drainage holes - now all I've got to do is buy a drill (used to have one, but used so little I gave it to the Age Concern volunteer; thought, well, I'd still get the use of if when he did odd jobs for me - good plan if I still had contact!).

I'm looking at cordless drills, then it can be used outside. but as usual, so much choice! and it mustn't be too powerful - I bought a hand mixer with dough hooks for kneading bread, but it's got very powerful motor and I'm such a wimp that it keeps trying to take off. Anyone want a food mixer with dough hooks? only used once (briefly!)

I presume that the trough stands on the corks while drying so that the air can get at the bottom and dry that, too. But I've also thought about making non-draining containers - I wanted to start with a very small item (bowl or dish or plaque or something) to test my hypertufa-making before I started on a bigger project.

If it won't have drainage holes it won't need the corks, but then how to place it so that the air can get all round and underneath it? with nothing to prop it up, some part of it will have to be in contact with the work surface - would it set to the surface and have to be chipped off, or would the contact inhibit drying in those parts?

17 Sep, 2011

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