Oh What A Big Hypertufa On Flatbed Wagon

Here It Is! Oh! What a Big Hypertufa! Part Two

I hope you have been with me for Part One! Here’s how my Big Hypertufa turned out.

I left the wrapped Giant T Rex Hypertufa Trough under the lilac bush in my side yard for about 7-10 days. I checked on it now and again, but it seemed still pretty “wet” and “uncured”, so I always just let it stay wrapped. I finally decided to take it out of its form or framework, however you would call the apparatus I made it in. See Part One Here.

It took two guys, my son and son-in-law with my husband supervising to remove and lift it onto another wooden platform for it to continue curing. Once all the wood pieces and plastic were removed, I loved the way it looked.

But then it needed to be re-wrapped and placed on a flatbed wagon again, with supporting boards underneath, for mobility. Again I pulled it over into the shade to sit another couple of weeks. I was so anxious to get it out, but ….

Oh What a Big Hypertufa - I Made It

A Big Hypertufa Must Cure!

I planned for this hypertufa trough to be a “sun garden”, so I put it on the side of the house which gets all morning sun. This side garden is shaded by the house in the evening. Most of my sun lovers survive well here.  I planned to put it up on “feet” and I thought that those half cinder-blocks would be perfect.

They are 8-inch cubes so I visualized and measured and then went to the store and bought several. I thought it might need six, but just the four feet with one in the middle/center was enough support.

Rinsing and Leaching the Big Hypertufa

These made the perfect pedestals for the giant trough. The bed beneath the trough is pea gravel, so I drove Hub and Sons

crazy.  I kept asking them to shift and level over and over until it seemed like the right position. Not too far back and not too far forward, but just right! ( And of course, it all had to be re-arranged when we actually got to set the trough down on the pedestals.)

Note: I  mentioned in Part One that during the making of the T Rex Trough, I did use reinforcement for the bottom and sides. I cut sheets of hardware cloth of a 1/2 inch mesh and these are inside the walls and bottom.

When he drilled the holes for drainage, my husband assured me that it would drill through easily with the masonry drill bit. As usual, he was right!  ( Did I just say that?) I think this hardware cloth is adding to the strength of the trough and it is necessary because of its large size.

Here is the Big Hypertufa in place and my husband did a short demo on drilling the holes for drainage.

Drilling Drainage Holes In Hypertufa Trough

After my husband drilled the holes, it was necessary to texture the top and sides a little. I like to slightly round off the edges since I like a clean but aged-looking top. So I carved with the brush and rasp, then swept out all of the debris. It is necessary to do this because the debris could plug up the holes later.

So I swept it clean, and rinsed thoroughly with the garden hose again and again.  I misted it with diluted vinegar solution and rinsed, over and over. Then I needed to take a large screwdriver and poke the holes again to be sure all the debris was cleared from the drainage holes.

Big Hypertufa Planted June, Made in May

I use vinyl screening sheets to cover my drainage holes. In this case, a large sheet was stretched across the bottom and I poured the soil into it. It took two large bags ( 2 cubic foot) to fill it. So that totaled 4 cubic feet.

I poured about 25 pounds of poultry grit and mixed and mixed until I felt it was distributed well. I added a little perlite since I want to make sure of good drainage. I mounded in well above the top and then watered it well. Of course, it settled and left me with a pretty level planting surface. Perfect!

PNG affiliate disclosre

If you would like to use poultry grit, and in my opinion, it is perfect for succulents, you may find it at a Farm Store since it is something that is fed to poultry. I did not find this at any local Big Box store.  Reference the link above to see what it looks like and then you will know what to ask for.

I had a hard time finding it and located it at a store called Tractor Supply in Xenia. It is really pretty since it is crushed granite, pink granite in my bag. Make a pretty top dressing for little containers.

Fall of 2014 Growing well
This is about 3-4 months after planting.

When I felt that my hypertufa trough was thoroughly rinsed and treated for excess lime, I got ready to add the soil. It used two full bags of 2 cu ft capacity. I poured this 1/2 bag at a time into my large mixing bin and added coarse sand and poultry grit. I added approx 4 gallons of the coarse mixture. I like to be sure of good drainage.

After placing a large sheet of vinyl screen across the bottom of the trough, I added the soil. It took several times to get enough mixed to fill it, but it was finally done. It was very fluffy and nice! I was so excited.

But we all know that the soil settles! So I still couldn’t plant it!   I had to water the soil completely to settle it all in. I did not want the soil level to sink below the surface by a few inches after planting. So for two additional days, I watered the soil, added a little more soil, and watered again. I felt pretty good about it in two days.

And now I could plant this T Rex Trough! Finally!

I planted stonecrop “Coral Carpet”,  rockfoil ( this was a mistake, more about that in another post),  erodium rheichardii,  sedum sexangulare,  sempervivum “Black”,  sempervivum “Desert Bloom”, sisyrinchium angustifolium Blue eyed Grass ( a tiny iris relative), elfin thyme,  sedum humisifusum “Tiny Urchin” and some other assorted semps for which I don’t have a name.

Love it! I finally have my Big One!

Let me know what you think of this in the comments. Do you have a special trough that you love the best?


  1. Carol Hinton says:

    Your experiences seem to be published just as I am attempting to make larger pots. I recently completed a styrofoam mold. It measures 16″ x 8.5″ on the inside. Currently I don’t have an inner mold yet. I’ll probable make one this week, along with a new mixture.

    I love the two-toned look of your trough. The creativity of making pots is what keeps me wanting to make more!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Your neighbor,


    1. Thanks so much and you have a great weekend!

  2. Kim, beautiful planter!! I’m just getting started with hypertufa and was wondering if there is a formula ro know how much hypertufa to make, especially for larger projects like this. Thank you!

    1. I don’t know of any formula to use. It just comes with experience making them and estimating what you think will work and really never getting it right. I always plan a pot and then an extra smaller version ready and oiled or lined, just in case. It is so much better to make too much than not enough. I have a lot of small rocks that look like dinosaur poop around here! LOL

  3. Kim, what a wonderful project ! I rather like the two tone color effect of the black dye that has turned out to be a “happy mistake”. And you didn’t even need to use wire support?! Great job and execution. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I really love how it turned out and enjoyed it while I had it. But we recently moved and I had to leave it behind. The new owners loved it so I hope it lasts forever for them. Now I just cherish my photos.

  4. Annabelle Postles says:

    Well done, Kim

  5. Wow, your giant trough turned out great. What a nice statement in your sun garden.

  6. Totally excellent, well done!

  7. I hope I can find the time to try one of these this year. It is beautiful.

  8. I think you’re lucky that you have a patient husband, LOL.

  9. Your monster trough turned out just fabulous! I love it. Well done.

    1. Kim Smith says:

      Thanks, Alison. I am loving it and want more. I like the “full garden” idea. Not sure when I will be ready to tackle another, though.

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