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May 26, 2022

Hypertufa Solid Garden Sphere

Hypertufa Solid Garden Spheres

You Can Utilize Left-Over Recipe Ingredients For This Craft Project

 

A Garden Sphere Made With Hypertufa Or Concrete Is Always An Interesting Garden Art Decoration.

This project is really not too much of a challenge to have come out looking great. 

 

 

Even young children can have the fun of making a sphere (with an adult’s supervision for sure–no ifs, ands, or buts!) :-)

 

I must stress that there ALWAYS be adult supervision. Some of the ingredients in both the hypertufa and concrete recipes are caustic. So please review my Safety Instructions Page before proceeding any further!

hypertufa ball

Keep in mind that if you are making a solid sphere, it’s going to be weighty the larger it gets. 

 

So if you’re like me and tend to make larger objects as opposed to smaller sized objects, remember you’ll have to be able to lift and move your creation at one time or another. If it’s going to be really large, you may want to make it where you wish it to reside in your garden.

 

Or, think about making your garden sphere hollow. Yes, it’s a bit more of a challenge to accomplish, and there are a few more materials needed, but you certainly will eliminate a lot of the weight. Please click here to read: How to Make a Hollow Garden Sphere

Solid Garden Sphere Tips

 

Making Solid Garden Spheres Isn’t At All Difficult

 

There Really Aren’t Any “Sphere Secrets” That Are Needed To Have A Successful Project

 

There really isn’t a secret to having a successful outcome to this project, other than the fact that I’m sure you do want your garden sphere to be as symmetrically round as possible. This can be accomplished very easily.

 

A popular method is:

Use an old soccer, volley or basket ball for the form. Cut the ball in halves. Line the halves with plastic or use a release agent. Click here: Mold Preparation How-Tos

 

Fill halves with your hypertufa or concrete mixture. Smooth off and level the tops of each half as much as possible. Allow to cure enough so that you are able to remove the halves from the forms without causing any indentions to the damp mixture.

 

Now, GLUE the two halves together with a mixture of your ‘tufa or concrete.

**I highly suggest you ADD a bonding agent or some type of water-based glue to this mixture to help make the two halves adhere to each other securely.

Another method:

 

Take a generous amount of your desired mixture; form it into a ball; let it partially cure. Continue to add layer upon layer of your mixture until you achieve the desired circumference.

Again, I highly recommend that you use a bonding agent in your mixture to encourage maximum adhesion of each layer to the next.

Whether you’re using concrete or hypertufa, follow standard Curing Techniques as explained in this informative article.

 

That’s All There Is To This Easy Project. Have Fun!

May 26, 2022

Smooth Concrete Stepping Stones

Smooth Concrete Stepping Stones

Easy Concrete Recipe – Easy To Make – Carvable – Long Lasting Results

 

If You Want To Make Really Smooth Stepping Stones, Try This Easy Recipe Using Fine Sand

This concrete stepping stones recipe is an excellent choice for when you want a really smooth result.

 

In addition, this recipe is carvable, so if you want to add a design to the stone (such as the example pictured above), or maybe you just would like to carve your signature, or add a saying of some sort onto the surface, then I’d say give this easy stepping stones recipe a try. 🙂

 

Before you get going, please make sure you’ve read over the Concrete Safety Guidelines and that you understand about the Curing How-Tos. (The curing information applies to both hypertufa and concrete garden art projects.)

 

 

Smooth Concrete Stepping Stone Recipe

1 part portland cement (sifted)

3 parts fine sand (sifted)
Optional: Concrete dye colorants
Enough water to make a mud-pie consistency

 

 

MATERIALS NEEDED:

A form or mold of some sort with REMOVEABLE SIDES;

Carving tools (spoons, screwdrivers, etc. work fine);
Bucket for water; old sponge to wipe off surface of stone.

 

 

**You might want to use white portland cement if you want a colored stone. Regular portland is grey, so of course this affects the final outcome of whatever colorant you may choose to use. However, white portland cement can be harder to find, depending upon where you live.

 

 

Make sure you’ve read this information on how to properly mix the ingredients. As with any concrete project, a successful outcome when mixing up this stepping stone recipe is dependent upon the proper ratio of ingredients: Mixing Guidelines: Tips to Help You Avoid Unnecessary Mistakes

 

As far as combining the three ingredients, as I’ve noted sifting the portland cement and the sand is recommended IF you desire a super smooth result. Otherwise measure out the portland cement and sand in the ratios given and break up any lumps with your gloved hands.

 

Then … slowly add in some water; mix and stir (or blend it in with your gloved hands). Keep adding a little bit of water, mix it in, and add a little more until your have the mid-pie, or some like to say “peanut butter”, consistency.

 

How To Make Your Stepping Stone

 

Step-By-Step Instructions For A Successful Outcome

 

#1) Ok, your mixture is ready! Now you can fill your form. Add it in increments, patting it down with your hands as you go along. You want to do your best to remove trapped air bubbles. Keep going until you have completely filled it up to the height you desire.

Also, many people pick up the edge of their form a few inches, and let it drop down onto the work surface, whereby helping to bring any other air bubbles up to the surface. This is just another way to “tap-tap” out the bubbles.

 

#2) Note: at this point there will be some excess water starting to collect on the surface. That’s OK … this is what is supposed to happen. (You’re doing great!)

 

#3) Using your gloved hands or a trowel, or if you are more particular a long stick to pull across the top … smooth the surface of your stepping stone.

 

#4) Let your stone cure. You do not cover the surface with plastic. It will take at least three (3) hours, probably closer to six (6) hours to cure enough before you can remove the sides of the form. Once hard enough (cured), you may carefully remove the sides of your form.

Now is a good time to wash off and clean up your form. You don’t want the concrete to set up on it!

#5) Now, you may begin carving. (If you see any white, flaky looking scale on the concrete, just scrape it off. This is a deposit that forms on concrete … you’ve not goofed up in the recipe. All’s OK!)

 

You can use just about any object or tool you can think of to do your carving. Try to keep the “waste” concrete collected in a bucket or container, as it makes your clean up much easier.

 

You can use a damp sponge to help smooth areas, or you can mist a little bit of water if need be (do NOT add much–just mist a little!).

 

#6) When you’re done with your carving, take your damp sponge, and gently run it over the outside edges, to smooth them off.

 

#7) Let your concrete stepping stone sit uncovered for 24 hours. Try to mist it 3 times during the 24 hours, if possible.

 

#8) After 24 hours, carefully turn over the stone onto something soft. An old towel or even piece of carpet will do. Using a flat edged item (piece of metal or even a trowel), or a damp sponge, smooth off the edges of the bottom of the stone. You can sign and date the stone now, if you want to.

 

#9) You’re almost done. 🙂 I suggest you take your new stone outside and hose it off to give it a good clean-up and to wet it down. Then, place it inside a plastic bag; close up the bag; and let it cure for a week. You may want to check on the moisture level in the bag every day or so. You can mist more water into the bag if necessary. Dampness is required for a proper cure, and a proper cure is what produces a good hard stepping stone!

 

#10) That’s it. Now you can remove your concrete stepping stone from the bag and place it where you desire. However, I would still not walk on it for another week or two, as honestly, the cure is still continuing and a full cure takes about a month. If it were me, I’d err on the side of caution, rather than not!

May 24, 2022

Hypertufa Trough Project

Hypertufa Trough Project

This Is A Great “First” Project To Try — Get Acquainted With Hypertufa

 

I’m going to cover the various ways you can easily make a hypertufa trough. This garden art project certainly is a good one for the ‘tufa beginner, as it doesn’t entail much more in skill than applying the hypertufa to the sides and bottom of your mold.

 

The hypertufa trough’s shape is dependent upon the mold you choose. (Makes sense, huh?) Keep in mind the plants you are planning on planting in it when choosing your mold. You don’t want to end up with too small of a trough.

You have two options in mold making: you can cover the exterior or the interior of your mold with the ‘tufa mixture. Also keep this in mind, as it will affect the final size of the trough. Your trough will be a few sizes smaller than the mold if you apply the ‘tufa to the interior. And obviously larger than the mold if you apply it to the exterior. Either way works very well.

 

Some of the “ready-made” mold choices that are acceptable for this project are:

Building Your Hypertufa Trough

 

Follow These Simple Steps and Your Project Will Be A Success

 

You’ll need to prepare your mold before you mix up your ‘tufa recipe! 

Refer to the Hypertufa Recipes and Mixing Guidelines pages to choose a recipe for this hypertufa trough project.

Remember: wear gloves at all times! Disposable latex gloves work great when applying hypertufa and allow you more dexterity than the heavy gloves used for mixing. 

 

If you are covering the exterior of the mold with ‘tufa, turn it upside down on your work surface so you’re able to cover the bottom. Begin building the mixture around the base of the mold, gradually building up the sides and over the top. Pat and press, pat and press the mixture as you work along. The desired thickness of ‘tufa is about 1½ inches.

 

If you’re applying ‘tufa to the inside of your mold, keep it upright. Begin building the mixture on the bottom of the mold, gradually building up the sides. Pat and press, pat and press the mixture as you work along. The desired thickness of ‘tufa is about 1½ inches.

 

Make sure the corners are as thick as the sides. You don’t want weak areas in your trough due to the hypertufa not being applied thickly enough.

Keep the base as flat and smooth as you can. This is especially important if you are applying the hypertufa to the exterior of your mold.

You can make your own molds with:

 

  • Wood (screw the pieces together)
  • Polystyrene foam used for house insulation
  • Large sheets of styrofoam
 
A great idea for a reusable form: Butt the edges of your (4) pre-cut rigid foam sections; hold the edges together with bamboo or metal cooking skewers, or large nails; then wrap duct tape around the outside for added stability. 

Put this 4-sided form on a piece of plywood for a removable base.
hypertufa troughs
Great tip: Use a bamboo barbeque skewer, or similar thin object, marked at 1-1/2 inches, to poke through the ‘tufa, allowing you to check the thickness of the walls as you are applying it. This will help insure that you are keeping your entire project 1-1/2″ thick.

When you’re finished, if you desire a smoother look to your hypertufa trough, smooth the surfaces with semi-wet fingers.

 

Create drainage holes: using short lengths of ½” – 1″ dia. dowels, poke the dowels through the ‘tufa until they touch the base of your mold. The larger the trough, the more drainage holes I’d suggest you include. If you don’t have dowels, use whatever you have on hand that can create holes — no one is going to see them anyway when your trough is planted. They don’t have to be perfectly shaped.

 

Alright. You’re almost done …  :-)

 

On to the final step … curing. For proper curing and handling of your hypertufa trough, please refer to our article on the Guidelines for Curing Hypertufa Successfully

May 24, 2022

Hypertufa Sculptures

Hypertufa Sculptures

Construction How-Tos For Carving & Scuplting in ‘Tufa

 

This article offers guidelines and a recipe for creating long-lasting hypertufa sculptures

 

In most cases, when one talks of hypertufa sculptures they mean tall upright objects. But that being said, you can use these guidelines for smaller objects, such as a small “garden face” you sculpt into a ‘tufa rock’s surface.

As with all hypertufa projects, I will repeat myself once again and say “practice makes perfect” when it comes to your desired outcome. Whether it’s the consistency of your recipe’s ingredients, or the final appearance of your sculpting, carving and/or texturing of the object, please understand that sometimes your first project may be a big, yet necessary “learning curve”.

 

This isn’t rocket science, but being familiar with the “basics” comes with practice.

Sculpting Recipe

 

Here is a recipe that will give you a durable, carvable and long lasting hypertufa sculpture. Your aim is to apply this first recipe in thin layers over your armature, building it up to the desired thickness. Then, you will use the 2nd recipe to add one or more layers thick enough to allow you to sculpt to your desired depth.

 

Recipe for application over the armature and to build up thickness desired:

1 part Portland cement
1½ parts peat moss
1½ parts coarse sand
Handful of poly fibers
Handful of silica fume

 

Recipe for the Final Layer(s)

1 part Portland cement
1 part peat moss
1 part coarse sand
Elmer’s Carpenter’s Exterior Wood Glue (or other bonding agent)

Sculpting and Carving

 

As mentioned above, once you’ve gotten the hypertufa sculpture’s walls almost as thick as desired, you will apply the final coats of the 2nd recipe. You will apply these last coats thick enough to allow the desired depth of your sculpting (or carving). 

 

Once the final layers have set up a bit, start your sculpting. Don’t let it set up too long or it’ll be too hard to properly sculpt.

 

You may wish to finish off the semi-cured surface with a stiff wire brush to get the surface smoothed out (if that is part of the final look you are trying to achieve.)

hypertufa sculpture

These are good basic directions for a successful hypertufa sculpture project. If you are brand new to working with hypertufa, then I whole-heartedly suggest you refer to my other articles to familiarize yourself with important facts before you attempt this project.

About Bonding Agents and Glue

 

What Is A Bonding Agent? How Much Should Be Used In Your Recipe?

 

bonding agent is an additive used in a hypertufa recipe to cause a “new” layer to adhere to an “old” layer. In other words, you are able to apply layer upon layer of ‘tufa and everything will stick together. Now, this is a good thing! :-)

 

Bonding agents are located in the cement products isle at Home Depot or Lowes, for example. A bonding agent is similar to Elmer’s Wood Glue, thusly many crafters use Elmer’s Wood Glue with great success (and save a little money, too).

 

The amount to use is not set in cement (not to make a pun) but in general for every 10 cups of dry mix ADD approximately ¼-cup of bonding agent. I suggest you add it into the water that you’ll use to moisten your dry mix.

 
NOTE: I’ll mention that rumor has it that the maestros “Little and Lewis” use Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue as their bonding agent. I’m just passin’ along some interesting info here, gang!

Armature: A Strong Inner Frame

 

The Sculpture Must have a Very Sturdy Inner Frame Construction

 

You’ve got to use something very sturdy on which to build hypertufa sculptures. But, almost anything can be utilized: PVC pipes, wooden structures, metal rods or rebar. Styrofoam can be used successfully, also. Build your armature by nailing, gluing or welding it into the ‘shape’ you want.

 

You will then use hardware mesh (also referred to as hardware cloth) to cover the armature. This will serve as your form on which to apply the hypertufa layers. Wrap it and wire it to your form if needed. Make sure the hardware mesh is secured as tightly as possible to the armature.

 

Due to the complexities involved with building an armature, there is no way in this particular article that I can address all the how-tos. Your ingenuity and creativity will certainly come into play in this particular step of your sculpture project. Let common sense dictate the particular requirements that your inner frame will need.

 

May there be many hypertufa sculptures gracing your garden in years to come! :-)

May 24, 2022

Hypertufa Hollow Garden Spheres

Hypertufa Hollow Garden Spheres

Want to learn How to Make a Hollow Garden Sphere using Hypertufa?

Let Me Share My Tips To Help Your Project Be A Success!

 

I think that a garden sphere made with hypertufa or concrete is one of the neatest garden art items you can make.

 

Not only are round objects always interesting in a garden space, but there is a little bit of a challenge to have it come out looking great. This article will discuss the methods and tips that will help insure your success when making a HOLLOW garden sphere.

Now, just in case you want to make a SOLID sphere, please click here: How to Make Solid Garden Spheres

 

There is a degree of difficulty when casting a hollow sphere. 

 

Whether you’re using a hypertufa or concrete mixture, the principles for making the sphere are identical. But, this project is certainly one that even children can be successful doing (with adult supervision at all times for safety’s sake).

hypertufa hollow sphere

This project requires a well-made INFLATABLE / DEFLATABLE beach ball or exercise ball.

 

Exercise balls can be found in most sporting goods stores. The reason I suggest you purchase a well made one is for the simple fact it can be RE-USED. I guarantee that once you make one garden sphere … you’ll want to make another, and another. Friends are going to ask for one, too!

 

OK … back to the inflatable ball for your casting form. Here’s where we get into some ins-and-outs with variations. Keep in mind that the BIGGER the size of the sphere you want to cast, the HEAVIER and possibly more unmanageable it’s going to be. Where are you going to keep it while it’s curing, etc? You need to really think ahead.

Hollow Garden Sphere:  Let’s Begin

 

Follow These Steps to Make a Hollow Garden Sphere

 

This is important, so listen up! Grasp the deflated ball and hold it in the middle with the stem pointing up. Approximately how large a circumference does it have when deflated?? What I am getting at here is this: you are going to deflate the ball once your mixture hardens, and then carefully pull it out through the “hole” that you’ve left in your sphere. I hope this illustration clearly shows what I am trying to explain to you.

Make a mental note of, or jot down how large a hole you’ll need to leave when patting on your mixture!

 

Inflate the ball. Make sure the inflation stem is securely closed.

 

Apply a generous coating of “release agent”. 

 

Cut some strips of hardware cloth (available in hardware stores — it’s a metal mesh product and comes in small rolls for around $8.00). It’s up to you how wide to make the strips. What you want to do is to SMOOTHLY wrap the ball with the strips.

 

Criss-cross the hardware cloth strips around the entire ball. You DO NOT have to cover the entire ball’s surface … unless it’s REALLY large. The strips are beneficial because they will add extra reinforcement once your garden sphere has cured.

Application of the Wet Mixture

 

In Most Instances More Than One Layer Will Be Needed

 

Pat on a 1/2-inch thick layer (give or take) of your concrete or ‘tufa mixture.

 

Leave an area around the inflation stem “bare” – no mixture applied. Just like I explained above. This is where you will pull out the deflated ball once your mixture hardens.

 

Allow the sphere to harden. Deflate and carefully remove the ball.

 

 

Apply more ‘tufa or concrete mixture to your sphere, building up to the desired thickness. You may need to do this in layers, depending on how thick-walled you want it to be.

 

 

When you’re done applying the layers, you’ll need to carefully cure your garden sphere. 

hypertufa sphere project

Some Final Expert Tips

 

Take Your Time and Follow Each Step … And Practice DOES Make Perfect!

Whether you are making a concrete or hypertufa garden sphere, you may want to leave a few very small open areas on the sphere when applying the first layer. And the reason??

 

Any concrete/cement mixture (hypertufa does contain cement) expands and contracts when curing. By leaving a few little open areas, you are helping insure that the first layer doesn’t CRACK while curing.

 

As with all ‘tufa or concrete projects, I cannot give precise instructions. Practice makes perfect! Especially where hypertufa recipes and the like are concerned.

It’s just like baking a cake … your success comes with getting the feel of how to mix and blend your recipe and all else that’s involved. Have patience. Have fun!

 

Don’t let my warnings on this hollow garden sphere project deter you. No, please don’t! I’m just trying to make a point to you that if you proceed slowly, following my tips here and on my other pages, you will surely have a garden sphere project that will be not only a success but a fabulous piece of garden art for many years to come.

May 24, 2022

Hypertufa Garden Stepping Stones

Hypertufa Garden Stepping Stones

Looking for an easy Hypertufa Garden Stepping Stones Project?

A Simple Technique and A Very Simple Cement & Dirt Recipe

 

Making Faux Rock Garden Stepping Stones Isn’t All That Hard

 

The great thing about this garden stepping stones project is that it’s easier than some other DIY projects because you don’t need to make a form. You merely dig and shape a depression into the ground (hopefully you have a spot or corner somewhere in your yard where you can do this). Then you “squish” or pour the wet recipe ingredients into the depression. How easy is that?

These artificial “flagstone” garden stepping stones, when made in this manner, can be very believable if you take the time to simulate what Mother Nature can do, namely coloration and texture.

 

Keep in mind to make your stepping stones at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick (or thicker if desired) so they won’t crack when you step on them. You can make them as large as you wish. Make the edges of your depression irregular, just like a real flagstone would be.

 

This recipe does allow you to do further shaping to the dried stepping stones if you desire more texture, a crevice here or there, etc. (I suggest having at least one real flagstone or other flat stone to refer to while you’re finishing and adding texture to them.)

 

Use tools such as a rasp, a power sander, etc. Many crafters use real rocks that are large enough to be held in their hand to do their scraping with. Whatever works to get the job done is fine.

Easy Stepping Stone Recipe

 

This Recipe Produces Strong Long-Lasting Garden Stones

1 part Portland cement
2 parts dry, clean garden-type dirt
Concrete dye, if desired
 (see information below)
Enough water to make a mud-pie consistency

 

Now, to form each garden stepping stone: Dig a depression (or depressions if you have the room to make more stones) in the shape you desire; line the depression with plastic that is pliable enough to closely conform to the depression; pour or trowel the hypertufa mixture into your “form”

Note: as you’ll notice, after you’ve lined your depression, the plastic’s wrinkles are what will help make your faux rock look like flagstone. The bottom side of each stepping stone is actually the “top side” when it’s dried.

Cover your project with plastic, secure with bricks or other heavy objects so the wind won’t blow it off, and cure for at least one week. 

 

For garden stepping stones that have extra durability, but less chance of further shaping after they’re dried, check out our Hypertufa Recipe.

 

If you’d like a really smooth stepping stone that you can also carve a design into, or maybe carve a saying into … well here’s an easy concrete and sand recipe you should try: Concrete Stepping Stones

 

May 23, 2022

Hypertufa Faux Rocks

Hypertufa Faux Rocks

Faux Rock Guidelines for Successful Projects

 

Making artificial, or faux rock is a viable alternative to shopping around (and probably spending a lot of money) to find just the right rocks or boulders for your landscape design.

Faux rock can be very believable if you take the time to simulate what Mother Nature can do :-)

 

If you’re up to it, go for it! 

 

Many people decide to make hypertufa faux rocks because they find real ones are quite expensive. Though this project isn’t too terribly challenging, be aware that this is not an easy 1-2-3 “you’re done!” type of procedure. It also requires some creativity on your part.

hypertufa faux rocks

My suggestions to you are:

 

  • Study what rocks/boulders “look” like, meaning the pitting, crevices, etc. naturally found. The challenge with this project is obviously trying to simulate Mother Nature’s work. Probably the biggest disappointment in faux rock making is that once completed, your rock really does look fake. Now you have what appears to be a great big weird blob sitting there!
  • Get all your materials ready. Have more of the hypertufa recipe ingredients on hand than you anticipate needing. Allow yourself a workspace that can remain a “workspace” for awhile. Again, this project is not an overnight thing.
  • If the rock is going to be large and too heavy and/or awkward to move … cast it in the spot where it will reside.

Follow These Faux Rock Directions

Start With A Sturdy Form, A Good Recipe and Some Patience!

 

1. Create your mold/form using styrofoam, wood, chicken wire, etc. An armature might have to be built for structural support on larger rocks or boulders. Reinforce smaller forms, if necessary, to prevent them from collapsing. For example, you can stuff a chicken wire form with wadded up plastic grocery store bags.

2.  Be sure to apply your mixture AT LEAST 3″ thick to the entire mold.

3. You may begin sculpting at this stage. Many folks use a point trowel for rock veins and a large, highly porous sea sponge for the overall texture.

4. Cure it properly or your rock won’t last! 

5. After the initial curing stage, you may want to further enhance your rock by rubbing it’s surface with a REAL rock that is very rough. Scrape and scrape; wash down your faux rock when done; and allow it to dry thoroughly.

6. Now you can apply a stain, painted finish, etc. to further enhance a realistic appearance. 

7. Apply concrete sealer to protect the color and texture for years to come.

May 23, 2022

Forms for hypertufa projects

Forms for hypertufa projects

Make Sure Your Form or Mold is Sturdy and You’ll Be Off To A Great Start!

 

You know, you can use almost anything when it comes to choosing sturdy forms for hypertufa or concrete projects.

 

The form — or mold — can be as simple as a cheapie styrofoam ice chest, to one made from pieces of wood screwed together for a trough project, as an example. A sturdy cardboard box can be used as a form for a hypertufa / concrete project. Almost any size plastic or metal bowl will work.

Some of the “ready-made” mold choices that are acceptable are:

You can make your own square or rectangular forms for hypertufa or concrete objects with:

 

  • Wood (screw the pieces together)
  • Polystyrene foam used for house insulation
  • Large sheets of styrofoam

A great idea for reusable forms for hypertufa or concrete: Butt the edges of (4) pre-cut rigid foam sections; hold the edges together with bamboo or metal cooking skewers, or large nails; then wrap duct tape around the outside for added stability. Put this 4-sided form on a piece of plywood for a removable base.

And I do want to mention this in case you’re brand new to making ‘tufa or concrete objects … most of the forms you will be using can have the hypertufa / concrete applied to the inside or outside. 

 

Keep in mind your item will be SMALLER than the mold if you apply your mixture to the inside; and it’ll be LARGER than the mold if you apply it to the outside.

 

And no matter what type of form you use, you will want to use some sort of a “release agent”.

Spherical & Terra Cotta Forms

 

Beach Balls, Exercise Balls, Soccer Balls or Clay Pots Work Fine, Too

 

Spherical hypertufa or concrete items can be achieved by using sturdy plastic beach balls or exercise balls. HINT: don’t use the really cheap inflatable kind as they can collapse during the curing process because the air leaks out one way or another.


Click here to learn about a very popular garden art project: Making “Hollow Garden Spheres”


Terra cotta pots can be utilized as forms for hypertufa / concrete projects, BUT will pose a larger degree of difficulty when trying to remove the “new” pot.


This is what you MUST DO: Soak the terra cotta item OVERNIGHT in water. Drain off excess water and generously coat with a combination of equal parts mineral oil and corn oil. This oil mixture is referred to as a “release agent”. It facilitates the “release” of the hypertufa / concrete from the form’s surface. Many folks swear by this oil blend and use it exclusively on all types of forms.

Wire Forms For Rocks & Flat Stones

 

There Is A Bit Of Versatility Of Shapes If You Use A Wire Form

 

For making small irregular forms for your projects (such as rocks), many crafters make the shape they want with chicken wire stuffed with wadded plastic grocery bags.

 

Or, you can actually hollow out the shape outdoors in the ground, pour in the hypertufa or concrete mixture and let it cure before removing. With this method, you will have one side that is quite flat. You can use this technique to make stepping stones, too.

 

For really BIG objects … well now we’re talking armatures, rebar, things like that. And that is a whole ‘nother article I need to write!

May 23, 2022

Hypertufa molds

Hypertufa Molds

Many Items Around The House Or Simple-To-Make Forms Will Work

What Can Be Used For A Good Hypertufa Mold?

 

You do not necessarily have to purchase a mold for your hypertufa project if it is a simple shape like a trough, round planter or even a rock that you wish to make. Many items found “around the house” can be used successfully.

Whether you are able to utilize them “as is”, or whether you have to do a bit of construction to build a form, it still isn’t a major undertaking in most instances to come up with a good sturdy useable mold.

 

Some of the “ready-made” hypertufa mold choices that are acceptable for most projects are:

Unless you want the hypertufa stuck forever on your mold, you MUST line it with a plastic bag or coat it with a “release agent”. 

 

You can make your own molds with:

For an easy to make reusable form: butt the edges of (4) pre-cut rigid foam sections; hold the edges together with bamboo or metal cooking skewers, or large nails; then wrap duct tape around the outside for added stability. Put this 4-sided form on a piece of plywood for a removable base.

You can dig a hole into the ground and pour the hypertufa into it to make stepping stones or small rocks. Some crafters line the “indention” in the ground with plastic, others don’t. It depends upon how smooth, etc. you want the finished stone to look. 

Please refer to: Garden Stepping Stones Project

Cut a sturdy ball (like a basketball or soccer ball) in half: fill each half with your hypertufa mixture and when it’s cured enough to remove from the two halves, you then join the halves together with additional hypertufa mixture.

 

For really LARGE troughs or planters: you’ll need two sturdy cardboard boxes, one which is smaller by apprx. 2 – 2-1/2 inches in dimensions all around than the other box. The smaller box fits inside the bigger box. Now you have a “gap” which you fill up with a ‘tufa mixture.

Then, to “shore up” the exterior sides of the outer (largest) box from bulging out when you pour in the hypertufa, you’ll need some very heavy items — such as cinder blocks — or pieces of lumber screwed together that fit snug and flush against the sides of the outer carton for support.

You will also have to use something to stop the inside box from caving in. Sand, potting soil or even more cinder blocks will work.

 

I hope this list, which certainly is not all inclusive, gives you a good idea of the types of things that can be used for molds. 

 

Please make sure to familiarize yourself with my other “how-to” articles to assure your success. Good luck with your hypertufa projects in the future!

May 20, 2022

How to Grow Moss Technique

How To Grow Moss Technique

Enhancing Your Garden Pottery and Hypertufa Planters With Moss

 

Many Gardeners “Age” Planters By Encouraging The Growth Of Moss

How to grow moss on your garden pottery, clay, terra cotta, concrete or hypertufa planters and the like is not at all difficult. 

 

You’ll see by the following concoctions that all ingredients are readily available and the process is quite simple.

 

There are other recipes for growing moss that I have come across, but will not list them here as one or more of the ingredients are not something most of us readily have on hand. And there is no indication that these more involved techniques produce results any quicker than the ones I’ve listed here.

 

I’ve collected these “how to grow moss recipes” over the years and am pleased to share them with you.

how to grow moss
**NOTE: These recipes are to be made in a blender. If you do not have a blender, do your best to thoroughly mash and pulverize the moss particles into a thick, soupy liquid mixture.

Basic Recipe and Guidelines

 

Nice Looking Moss On Your Garden Planters Takes A LONG Time To Grow

 

Repeat these steps for each of the liquid ingredients listed:

 

  1. Gather a clump of moss (remove as much dirt from the moss as possible).
  2. Add moss into a blender (a good ratio is 1 part moss to 4 parts liquid).
  3. Add LIQUID INGREDIENT (see options listed below). **You only need to use enough to allow the blender to blend everything. It should end up as a very thick “soup”.
  4. Blend thoroughly to pulverize the moss.
  5. Spread the soupy mixture onto your object with a brush wherever you want the moss to grow. Or use your hands to “pat-pat” the gloppy mixture onto your container. I think the hand technique is the easiest and works great! 

Liquid Ingredient Options

Moss “Accelerant” Recipe … Maybe, Maybe Not

 

I’ve seen mention over the years where gardeners have been successful at accelerating the growth of moss by using a blend of honey and vinegar. As I have not personally tried this one, I will assume that the ratio of honey is much less than the vinegar. All I can say is experiment and see what happens, if you are so inclined.

Encouraging the Moss to Grow

 

Shade, Shade And More Shade … Then LOTS Of Patience :-)

 

Moss grows best in shady locations. Think about where you would find moss in a natural setting – normally in a shady, cool-ish and damp location, right? Like the woods, or by shady areas next to a stream; or under a tree where it is shaded, damp and cool. Blazing hot locations are not the place where we would find moss! So think about this when you are deciding where to set your item to begin the “growing” process.

 

After you have applied your mixture to the item, place it in your specially chosen nice cool, shaded area. You’ll need to keep an eye on it and mist it often enough to keep it slightly damp. Again, just think about how moss grows in the wild. It is found in damp, shaded spots.

 

Additional Comments

 

With any of the above recipes, nothing is so “set in cement” that a slight variance here or there will make much of a difference. This is not rocket science! Mix up the quantity you’ll need following the ratios given a closely as possible.

 

Let me say it one last time! The important thing is to keep your item in a shady and cool spot and to MIST it regularly. Then, PATIENCE is a must as moss grows very slowly. It may take a few months to over a year for moss to begin growing.

 

And you know, it’s not just hypertufa or concrete garden containers or clay pots that you can add moss to. There are so many wonderful ways you can utilize this technique. Think about this … you can even encourage moss to grow on stones, rocks, even your garden walls! You can really help Mother Nature along by using this technique if you want lots of mossy areas or items in your garden.

 

I wish you fun and the best of luck with this ‘how to grow moss’ project.