Hypertufa Toes for a Troll Head Garden Art Display

What’s the Best Way to Make Large Toes to Complete a Mossy Troll Head?


I received an email from Tracy S. asking me:

My reply:


Hi Tracy:

Sounds like a fun garden art project. A hypertufa or concrete recipe will work for the toes, but remember ‘tufa will get little nooks and holes in it over time, due to the peat moss decomposing – but that’s what is supposed to happen. So, which type of recipe you use is up to how you ultimately want the toes to look like. Perhaps hypertufa will be better suited to this project as it will look more like rock and less like concrete toes.


Probably your best bet to do what you want is to form the toes with the hypertufa recipe mixture by placing and shaping toe-shaped mounds of the ‘tufa directly onto the soil. You should make deep depressions down into the soil to help keep the toes stable and upright. I will also suggest you add a fortifier of some sort into your recipe to make it even more durable and long-lasting, again based on the needs of this project and your Wisconsin climate.


You could also include an internal wire support for each toe, then mound and shape the damp recipe around it. This might be a good idea since they’ll be sticking up in the air — like the above photo example. You could use rebar or make a chicken wire “cage” frame. There are a few different ways you can do this hypertufa project … some will be a little easier than others. Just think it through. 🙂

Photo Credit: 


Then, when the ‘tufa is still damp but starting to cure, you can sculpt the exact shape of each toe, add in the toenails, etc. This will be the best way, as I see it, to get each “mound” to resemble a real toe.


This is a very doable concrete or hypertufa project, but again, think it through and I’d suggest you experiment by making only one toe in the size you want to make sure everything is OK, your recipe cures properly, etc. Better to fail on one toe than the whole project. Or find out after doing just one there is another way that dawns on you that’s even better.

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