Artistic Garden






Beginner’s Hypertufa Recipe

An Affordable Way To Start Out For ‘Tufa Newbies

If You’re Not Quite Sure Hypertufa-Making Is For You … Save Some Money And Try This Recipe


This hypertufa recipe is a good choice for someone who’s never tried making ‘tufa but certainly wants to get going and make a new garden art object. 


You can give it a try and see if working with hypertufa is a craft that really excites and inspires you.

**Note: I’ll give a free plug to the “Quikrete” company and say that you’ll very easily find their “Sand (Topping) Mix” in the yellow bag at most hardware and big-box DIY stores. If you’re lucky, some stores in some states carry 10lb bags. Otherwise, 40lbs. is the smallest bag available. Either way, you are still saving money using this hypertufa recipe.

Peat moss can be readily purchased at your local gardening supplier or DIY store’s garden center.

Perlite can be purchased in smaller quantities, again at your local gardening supplier or DIY store’s garden center.

Vermiculite, on the other hand, is harder to find due to bad publicity about a certain vermiculite mine awhile back. Now most of the DIY stores no longer stock it. But the good news is that it continues to be used by professional pool contractors and large greenhouse growers, to name a few. You may have to make a few phone calls to locate either of these important hypertufa recipe ingredients.

What project do you have in mind? I suggest you start with what is probably the easiest beginner’s project — a trough. I’ve got two excellent sources of information on my website to help you.

First, I encourage you to click here to view this 3-minute video: Beginners Hypertufa Trough How-To Video. You’ll gain a pretty good idea of the basics involved.


“I’ll Give It A Try” Hypertufa Recipe


Make sure and have your mold or form, and everything else you’re going to need ready to go! Once you mix up the hypertufa (including the 10-minute rest period), you need to start applying it.


Remember, once the water mixes with the cement … it is chemically starting to “cook”. Hypertufa is not a wet mixture that can be stored away for future projects! It’s kind of like the saying “use it or lose it!” 


Alrighty then, here’s the recipe:

1 part pre-mixed Portland cement/sand mix
1 part peat moss
1 part perlite or vermiculite


1) Please familiarize yourself with what you need to do BEFORE you even open a bag of any of the ingredients! 

Please read the Hypertufa safety guidelines : Hypertufa Safety Guidelines


2) It is highly suggested if at all possible, you shake, turn and jostle the bag of premix product (yes, this will be hard if you had to buy the 40lb. bag) to help redistribute the ingredients. Things do tend to settle when sitting on a store shelf. Careful – don’t burst the bag. You might want to place the entire premix sack into a heavy-duty garbage bag, just in case.


3) In a wheelbarrow or large plastic mixing container, thoroughly blend the three recipe ingredients.


4) Start to add water slowly! Begin to mix everything with your gloved hands. Add a little bit more water. Mix, add a little more water. Now, squeeze the mushy hypertufa mixture with your hands. It should hold together and only a few drops of water should ooze out. If not, add a little more water – just a little – and let it set for about l0 minutes.

5) During your 10 minute wait, the chemical reaction between the Portland cement and water started. If the mixture seems too dry to be used on your mold or form, add a little more water.


You should now have a nice squishy hypertufa mixture that can be used on your mold or form.


A Few Important Tips for Success


  • About the Portland cement/sand pre-mix: some pre-mixes have an additive that can retard or speed up the curing process. Read the bag’s information to know what you are buying. It’s best for you, at this beginning stage, to purchase a pre-mix with neither additive.


  • Mixing tip: DO NOT over do it with the water… slowly mix in water until the ingredients have a consistency like cottage cheese. You want it to loosely stick together when you grab a handful. You need to use just enough water to get a nice mushy consistency and a consistency that will adhere to your mold. Too much water will cause your garden art object to ultimately crumble to pieces after it dries out. So, if your ‘tufa mixture is too runny, add a little more peat and pre-mix.