How to Make Hypertufa

Tips & Techniques for a unique rustic garden craft

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Are you dying to learn how to make hypertufa?

Here’s the right place to get instructions for making some unique garden art, and recipes to try.

How to Make Hypertufa - DIY Rustic Garden Art

What is Hypertufa?

Not all recipes will work for every project, as many are better for smaller containers and pots.

Your studio might be used the most in spring and fall - summer is a bit hot, and it's uncomfortable to work in.  Best temperatures for you and the hypertufa is around 21 degrees C. or near 70 degrees F.

Extremely strong mixes of hypertufa are necessary for hypertufa birdbaths and other large garden art projects such as hypertufa troughs.

Instructions for Making Hypertufa

Please see the section on Hypertufa How To - Safety before you start.

Recipes for hypertufa are limitless, but some work better than others.

Keep in mind too that not all cement powder, peat moss or sand is created equal, and regional differences mean that even if you follow the recipe exactly your results may differ. 

Hypertufa molded in a basket

Not to worry, this is a very forgiving craft even if you don't succeed immediately.

The pieces of projects that don't survive can still be used; stick them together to make a really rustic container with rugged texture, or recycle them as drainage material in a rockery or planter, or for my favorite use, as a mulch around Clematis which love the alkaline pH of the decaying pieces.

Use this recipe as a guide, and test it on smaller projects first, such as pinch pots.

Once you get an idea of how the materials perform, you can feel more confident about making bigger hypertufa projects such as larger containers, troughs and birdbaths among other unique rustic creations. 

Mix one part by volume of each of the following: (this means use several yogurt containers, coffee cans or other measuring container so you can measure each part using the same sized container)

My Hypertufa Recipe:

Cement powder – sometimes called Portland cement.

Avoid using pre-mixed mortar as this contains sand which may impact the proportions.

Peat moss – sometimes called sphagnum peat moss.

Sieve this through mesh to remove twigs and large clumps. The screen should have 5mm (1/16") openings.

Perlite – adds bulk without weight, but make sure you use a dust mask as the dust is harmful to breathe.

Sand – Builders sand is used by construction companies; don’t use beach sand as it may contain salt.

I have also replaced sand with sandblasting material, which in this case was slag from a mining operation.

Use a mix of 1:1:1 of the first three ingredients (one part by volume of each ingredient) to start. Sand (or alternate material) is optional.

Add water to mix to a consistency of peanut butter (plastic and malleable). Test it by making a ball of the mix and drop it back into your tray - it should hold together, not crumble, on impact.

Place it in your prepared mold, and form it into place. Avoid over working it, as it will just crumble. Some recipes also contain fiberglass strands, vermiculite and other additional materials such as horsehair.

Want to download this recipe to print it?  Find the printable hypertufa recipe here.

You can test these quantities after you get the basic recipe to work.

Once you’re confident you know how to make hypertufa, the world is your oyster. I’ll bet you won’t be able to stop at just one hypertufa project for your garden.

Here's what you'll need for this project - buy the supplies from Amazon; you'll need one part by volume of Peat moss,Perlite and Portland cement Mix carefully and thoroughly (make sure you use a dust mask and gloves to protect yourself) then add the water to make a slurry.

Interested in learning more about making hypertufa and getting inspiration?  Sign up to Get Started with Hypertufa:

How to Reinforce Hypertufa

Sometimes, all it takes is to crush up some chicken wire.  This is how to make faux rocks. 

Salvaged wire pieces can be used too - or just keep it really simple and use fabric, netting (like pea supports) or even t-shirt material.  All it takes is something to give the hypertufa something to cling to.

Draped hypertufa was developed using old towels or other pieces of material, dunked in a slurry of hypertufa mix, then draped over a mold, stool, tree stump or upside down pot to dry.

I've also made the same kind of thing using pieces of fabric to make faux driftwood.

Finished Hypertufa Trough with Sedum and Sempervivum

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