Landscaping Made Easy

Pots With a Personal Touch

Mike Dooley, September 2017

Hypertufa pots are lightweight planters that anyone can make.

The original tufa pots were carved from limestone rock in England and used to feed cattle. Gardeners created hypertufa as an inexpensive and fun substitute.

There are several recipes that work and can be modified as long as you use at least one-quarter Portland cement. (Do not use concrete mix that has gravel already in it.)

In a wheelbarrow or tub mix:

• One part Portland cement

• One part sand or crusher fines

• One part sifted peat moss or sphagnum moss

• One part vermiculite or perlite

You can also add concrete color and/or a handful of fiber glass mesh to make it even stronger.

Leave out the sand or crusher fines to make a very light but strong pot.

In a wheel barrow or large tub, mix the ingredients with water. The consistency should be like stiff cookie dough. Estimate the amount that you think you’ll need for the size pot you want. If you mix too much, make another small pot; if you mix too little, just add more. It’s just like mud pies.

For the mold, you can cast over the outside of an existing pot. Cover the mold with a plastic bag so it is easy to remove. I like to make free form pots by digging a hole in the garden in the shape of the container I want and lining it with plastic garbage bags. Pack the mix firmly into the molds and use a tooth pick to push through the sides to measure the thickness. The sides and bottom need to be about 1.5 inches thick.

Take a pencil and poke drain holes. Now cover with plastic, so that it cures. After the first 24 hours, pull the pot and tidy it up with a wire brush to take out any rough parts. Wash the pot several times to remove any residue and you’re done. Give the hypertufa a few days to finish curing before use.

Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscaping Designs. Visit his website at


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