Here at Dovewood we needed a plant container of a very specific size that wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg. I remembered Geoff Hamilton using a Hypertufa mix to make a planter. I did a little research and found his recipe in his book Gardeners World: Practical Gardening Course (Affiliate link) and thought we should have a go. So here’s something you can try at home……….
The recipe for the Hypertufa mix we used was
1 part Cement
1 part Sharp Sand
2 parts Coir – we bought a compressed brick (not easy to find locally so we bought it online – Affiliate link) and soaked it to rehydrate the fibre
Actual quantities depend on the size of trough you want to make. You will also need some wire mesh or Chicken wire
We decided using cardboard boxes was not (a) practical or (b) easy to find boxes of the correct dimensions. Tim made an outer and an inner ‘box’ out of plywood and constructed them in such a way as to make them easy to dis-assemble to remove the container when it was finished.
Note the fixed pegs in the base of the larger one which Tim screwed in place from the underside of the box. These were knocked out of the trough when it was completed to make the drainage holes but it would be possible to drill through the finished hypertufa if you prefer.
My job was to cut lengths of Chicken wire to size, to strengthen the base and sides
Tim mixed up the Hypertufa on a mixing board using a shovel.
We put about one inch/25mm of the mix at the bottom of the larger box and put the wire on top of that before adding another layer of the Hypertufa mix. When it was nicely levelled, we placed the inner box centrally and the vertical section of chicken wire in between the two boxes
PLEASE NOTE YOU REALLY SHOULD USE GLOVES WHEN HANDLING WET CEMENT! (Ahem! Not like someone we know!)
Holding the chicken wire in place we carefully spooned the Hypertufa down inside poking it down with a piece of wood to ensure that there were no air pockets or bubbles. And we made sure that the wire was well bedded into the hypertufa mix as we didn’t want it to show on the outside of the finished article!
When we had filled the sides and levelled the top of, we weighted the inner box down with bricks and left the whole caboodle to set overnight.
The next day Tim deconstructed the inner box and took the outside wooden box apart to reveal our new planter
At this point the Hypertufa mix is set but not hard, so you can brush the sides lightly over and shape the edges or even carve into it if you want. You must do this within the first 24 hours otherwise it becomes too hard to do by hand. The planter will be completely hardened off after 7 days.
As this was our first attempt at using this method to make a plant container, we were thrilled at the way it turned out. It’s the perfect size for our purposes, it should weather down nicely, and is totally in keeping with the style of our garden.
If you want to age your hypertufa container you can ‘paint’ it with natural yoghurt or horse manure diluted with water. We haven’t done ours yet but I think I prefer the thought of using Yoghurt!
I hope you are feeling inspired to have a go at making one for yourself. Perhaps something to note down on your Garden Task list?…..Have you got your FREE printable yet? Click on this link to find out more!