Thursday, October 20, 2011


If you follow my blog then you know that concrete work is no stranger in this garden. When we first began work on the garden we had to do a few small retaining walls. It was our first dabble into the land of  masonry block, mortar and stucco. We bought a cement mixer. Then the real projects began.
"I can't find any pavers that I really like," I told David. "Maybe we could make some" ( By we I really mean David) And so began the making of 169 pavers for our herb and vegetable garden. I posted back in 2009 about this project.

Then we tried our hand at brick laying and patio making in the English garden. All those small flat limestone rocks I collected when they were building came in handy.

We worked together to make the circular patio. I won't forget mortaring in between the stones. It was back breaking but so rewarding. David completed the circle around the bird bath and made some round pavers to complement the circle theme.
Then, single handed, David paved the small garden off our bedroom.

It seemed as though there was no more need for the cement mixer and David was happy to have it out of the garage. He packed it off to Craig's list and sold it in a minute.
So what next. When Pam Penick, Digging, did a recent revue of the book, Concrete Garden Projects, I was reminded of all those articles I had cut out of magazines, over the years, on how to do hypertufa projects.  It spurred me into action. Off I went to to buy a sac of cement and some peat moss. I already had the sand from a recent pool filter change.

I decided to use the mixture I had in one of my magazine cuttings. 2 sand, 2 peat, 1 cement.

Mix to the consistency of cottage cheese.

My mold was an old plastic planter which I oiled well. I placed a cork in the drainage hole. Packed in half the the mix reinforced with chicken wire ( that was the tough part) and added the rest of the mix.

Left it to dry and then tried to get it out. Disaster. I had a feeling that this mix didn't have enough cement in it, or maybe it was too dry. First I couldn't get it out, so i had to hammer the outside to try to loosen it. You can see what happened.

Not to be beaten, and with plenty of materials left I tried another mix. This time 1 peat, 1 sand, 1 vermiculite and 1 cement. More water and more success.

I felt that my English garden really needed some troughs. Every English garden has them. It seems I had just the perfect mould to make round troughs to complement the circular theme of this garden.

And I now have the book, which is loaded with wonderful ideas. I like the way that the authors have laid out the book. First come the projects with a link to the instructions for each project at the back of the book. Most of the time they use a fine concrete mix which I assume means that the pea gravel is very small. I think the ready mix bags may have slightly larger gravel. Certainly this would be good for making patio pavers. Wire reinforcing was used in our pavers to increase the strength.
The projects range from simple small pots to larger projects. I'm sure David is dreading my showing him one of these projects. For now I am content to make a few more pots in the same mould before moving on to some authentic looking rectangular troughs. When they age they look just like the real thing. I will let them sit over the winter before planting next spring. Ready to have a go? Today is also the last day to sign up for a chance to win this book. You can do so here. But hurry, the contest finishes tomorrow October 21st.
And if you haven't already signed up with me and my gardening friends, for the opportunity to win a gift certificate from 8 of our local nurseries, then do so now. Just visit each the blogs of each one of participating bloggers and comment on their post too. Mine is here.


  1. Great post! Your pot looks great. I love the last photo, it really complements the circular theme of that garden. I'm not quite brave enough for concrete work yet.

  2. I purchased the book a while ago. Looking forward to trying some of the projects. I believe I'll try straight concrete however. I've been searching the net on molds, there is interesting stuff out there. Like you hardscape very much.

  3. Good for you! My only experience with cement was helping the husband as we mixed and poured the footings for our shade pavilion. That was enough for desire to revisit!

  4. I can't wait to see what you make from that book. I have the book and love the ideas, but I most likely will not get around to trying any. Your hypertufa planter looks great and yes, you need a proper English trough. :-)

  5. Wow! I've admired your garden (from photos), but had no clue that you'd made the pavers yourselves. The results are stunning. I'm impressed.

  6. I can't believe you did all that!!! That is fantastic. I saw your review on that book and ordered one. Too cute those little pots and all you can do with them. Great looking trough!!!

  7. I've always admired your pavers so much. I had no idea you made them on site. That makes so much more sense than buying a product that isn't quite right.

    When I grow up I want to be just like you and have a "paved" garden like you do. (You'll take imitation as the sincerest form of flattery, yes?).

  8. I love all your projects and I'm so impressed by how much you've done. Next time you're in the UK, can you and David come round to my garden, please!
    It's not just the paving, though - I like how you've achieved a really good balance between plants and paving, and the way the paths lead off into the distance. It makes the garden seem very restful.

  9. You wasted no time in getting to the next garden project! Thanks for showing us how it turned out, both times. The final result looks perfect for your garden. I can't wait to see it potted up. Thanks for the mention and link to my review also.

  10. I want to try this project, too. Must get the book first! Love your round trough. gail

  11. Hypertufa has always been on my to-do list. Thanks for nudging me another step toward finally trying it out! Your planter looks great!

  12. Jayne- It really is pretty simple and using a bag of concrete mix would make it even easier.
    Greggo- Yes, I think concrete would be easier as long as you can get the right consistency. Old plastic plant pots are probably the easiest to use.
    Danger garden-Worse than that was when I had to did the holes for a patio structure we did in Ca. They had to be 2'6" deep and they came out to check!
    Jane- I'm all enthusiastic about doing more. The trough will be the challenge as I will have to make the mould.
    Fun little book.
    Tina- Thanks. David is a miracle worker.
    Kacky- Knowing your clever way with succulents you will make some darling plantings.
    Texas Deb- Of course, it is lovely to have people say nice things about the garden. Thank you.
    Pam- Not quite sure what plants to put in there as in England they use alpines. Not much of an option here.
    Gail- It is very rewarding to make your own anything, don't you think?
    Meredith- Lots of ideas and recipes on line.

  13. Can't wait to tell Mark that you actually owned a cement mixer!

  14. I'm glad you kept going with your hypertufa turned out great! Love all your patio areas!!! Great work...back busting...oh my gosh...but how gorgeous it is!!!