Oh My! Now That's Big Hypertufa!

Oh! What a Big Hypertufa! – Part One

I made it.  A Big Hypertufa.

I’ve done it now. I made the biggest hypertufa ever!

It is four feet long and two feet wide and almost one foot tall! I made the sides of it about three inches thick, and included the same for the bottom. It is a Monster. I have been calling it the T Rex Trough.

I made up a huge amount of the hypertufa mixture, but ended up having to make even more.  I had to make up two loads of mixture in the cement mixer and it was so full, I had to put a “shower cap” on it. For real!  I used a whole bag of 94 pounds of Portland cement! That whole bag has roughly 9 gallons of cement.

Cement Mixer to Make a Big Hypertufa

Do the math! I had to put 13 1/2 gallons of peat moss and 13 1/2 gallons of vermiculite in this mix. And I used a whole bottle of charcoal cement color in the first half of the mixture, and when I realized that I was needing to mix more, I just had to go with the color as it comes naturally.  So I will just say that I am going for an ombre effect…..right, that’s my story and I am sticking to it.

It was hard to judge an amount needed since I had not made one this size before, so I ended up using half of the bag of Portland for a first batch. It seems like so much, but it was not enough.

Braced to Prevent Slumping

After I loaded in a great deal of the hypertufa mix for the bottom and firmed and packed it to minimum of three inches thick, I packed the sides also about the same three inches thick, and I really loaded in the mixture. Then I used the side of a small board to thump! thump! on it to be sure I was knocking out all the air holes in the mix. You can see the  dents in the surface.

Of course, once I firmly packed it in, I smoothed the sides well. The outer surface of the big hypertufa has the imprint of hardware cloth, ( I think it resembles a basket ) but I didn’t take photos of that. It is also buried into the bottom and sides  for the extra support.

Creating the bottom of the Big Hypertufa

This is the view from inside showing the walls. In the picture above,  you can see the cross-brace to prevent the weight of the hypertufa mixture slumping into the inside. The extra small corner piece was added to give us a more firm grip on that inner form and to give us a place for the nails and screws.

Very Thick Sides for my Big Hypertufa

Once both cement mixers full of hypertufa were added to the form bottom and sides, I felt it was big enough to finish. I smoothed and tried to be sure the sides were packed, leveled, and, as a final touch, I snipped some fern leaves and put them all along the sides of the top edge.

I was not sure how this would turn out, but it sure looked pretty as I put it away.  ( The imprints lasted for a while but faded away. They were prettiest when they were green.)

Packed Tightly Using A Board

This first photo at the top is actually after the unwrapping, and the green fern leaves were still green. ( I forgot to take a picture as we made it.)  But it really looked good. If I were artistic, I would paint them on again…like a tattoo. I was disappointed when they did fade away and flake off. But I still have the best Big Hypertufa ever!

Curing Under Wraps with Boards

I used a wagon to transport the Giant T. Rex Trough over under some side bushes to set up. It remained in the form for a about 10 days, and then I removed it the surrounding wooden frame.

It was sitting upon a large piece of particle board and we put these large planks under it so that would have a way to transport. It gave us “lifting” handles.

My husband says “What do you mean “Us.”?  My husband, son, and son-in-law did the lifting, not me. I just directed traffic, so to speak.  

How did it turn out?

Part Two: The Finished T. Rex Trough here

Have you made a giant trough? How big?

( This hypertufa trough was actually made several years ago and it has been one of my favorites since then. I am shortly to be moving and I want to take it with me. Wish me luck moving this one, since it hasn’t been moved from its spot since we first put it there. )


  1. I’m wondering if you’d share how much creating this would cost. Love it.

    1. Depending on the prices where you live, you can make this large planter for $50. I used 1 bag of portland cement, about $11 each. And then the perlite might be $15 or so. Wholesale purchase gets best deal. Peat moss here is very cheap. Maybe $7 for a huge bale that could make 10 of these planters. So depending on your prices, not very expensive at all. Buying a huge planter like this would probably cost hundreds, if it could be moved or transported. I hope that helps some. I have some links where you can buy the supplies here on the blog. Thanks.

  2. Christina says:

    How do you get the moss to grow on it?

  3. Love it! I just made a big hypertufa trough myself! First one. It turned out great but I think I’m going to whitewash it, as I’m not in love with the color of it. It looks like dirt to me.

    1. Glad you made one and that it was a success. Maybe the brown color will grow on you. I like mine with the brown natural look, but I also like painted ones. Like them best when moss grows!

  4. Wow. That is a big one. I hope you can move it. I can almost relate to that. I made a trough and it was back breaking doing the mix by hand. We used to have a cement mixer but when we finished making the patio stones we were glad to be rid of it.

  5. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

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