Hypertufa Trough

You make these unique containers yourself.
Getting Started

Weathered-looking stone containers from hypertufa -- a blend of cement, peat moss, and sand. Hypertufa containers -- or troughs -- make natural additions to the garden as well as handsome homes for alpine plants on a patio, deck, or balcony. These pots work well for small plants that might otherwise "get lost" in the garden.


  • Mold (plastic or metal dishpan, lid, or container; recycled foam ice chest or box liner)
  • Portland cement
  • Builder's sand
  • Peat moss
  • Water
  • Measuring device (1-gallon plastic milk jug with top cut open to make a measuring scoop, or large coffee can)
  • 5-gallon bucket with a lid
  • Plastic dishpan or similar old, reusable container
  • Old tarp, sheets of plastic, plastic garbage bags
  • Heavy-duty rubber gloves
  • Face mask
  • Plastic trowel
  • 1/2-inch wooden dowel cut in several 4-inch pieces
  • Wire brush


Choose a mold of a desired size and shape: square, rectangular, round, or oval. We used an 11x13x4-1/2-inch plastic dishpan -- the finished trough slides out easily, and the mold is reusable.

We also used a foam box liner (rescued from the trash; 9x15x5 inches) to make a cold-hardy container. In this case, the mold remains part of the trough; the foam insulates the hypertufa and helps plants survive cold winters. If you choose a metal or wood mold, line it with a sheet of plastic or a garbage bag before shaping the hypertufa in it.

Start with a small container; progress to larger ones when you feel more comfortable with the process. If you prefer to make a birdbath, use a garbage can lid for a mold. Work on the floor of a well-ventilated area where it's OK to make a mess.

Continued on page 2:  Instructions