Friday, December 18, 2015


A quick week away from home had me lying under the casuarina's on a beautiful Caribbean beach. To set the mood for gardening thoughts I had been listening to a Gardeners' Question Time podcast on winter projects. I began to make plans for mine.

A couple of years ago I picked up two styrofoam boxes at a garage sale. Perfect for my plans to cover them with a mixture of hypertufa to make a lightweight trough. It never happened. Then I saw a posting on the Hypertufa Gardener blog about creating a faux hypertufa box. Basically rough up the surface of such a box, seal, and paint the surface to resemble stone. What a great idea. Thanks Kim.
I asked the person in charge of the garage storeroom where my boxes were. "I threw them away" came back the reply. You can probably imagine my reaction without my even telling you. But then a short time later, returning from some errands, David told me to come outside. He thought I would be very pleased. And so I was as he produced not one but three large styrofoam boxes  from the back of the truck.

On our return from our trip I thought it prudent to get busy before these too disappeared. What are the tools necessary for this project.
A stiff wire brush.
A sharp knife
Heat gun or simple gas barbecue lighter.
Sheet of plastic to put under the work area.
Vacuum cleaner- it will be messy
Acrylic paints.
First thing was to cut off the lip of the box where the lid sat. You can see this on the lower box. Then I roughed up all the sides and the top edge to make a rounded lip. It only took about 15 minutes to do all the sides but it was snowing everywhere. Make sure your work area is out of a draught otherwise the fine beads will blow all over the place.
When you are happy with the surface pass a flame quickly over the box to seal the surface. I didn't have the heat gun which the Hypertufa Gardener had but my barbecue lighter seemed to work just as well as long as you are quick.

Box ready for painting
Then it's time for paint selection. I chose 2 colors of grey, beige and brown.

Pretty easy so far. Now for the hard part and I really mean the hard part. Being economically minded I didn't buy a large can of base coat. Instead I decided to stipple the surface using a thick paint brush and several different colors. It was taking forever and impossible to get in all the nooks and crannies. I gave up on the brush and started using a natural sponge which was what I used in my faux painting days. That was much better. The finish is starting to look more realistic and I may be able to live with this my first faux hypertufa trough.
Next I drilled a few holes in the bottom. Another mess. Next time I will do this at the same time I do the surface roughing. I have also been thinking about how I could make this into a self watering trough. But that is for the future.

I am going to experiment with growing potatoes in this one but will have to wait until next year. For the time being I took it outside, positioned it under the wall, in the spot where citrus spend the summer, and filled it with all the old potting soils that were lying around. I needed the soil out of the clay pots for the winter so there is no risk of spalling. And, I just happened to have a couple of hanging baskets of petunias left over from when Gardeners' Supply came in November.

Thanks Kim for this excellent project.


  1. Rock Rose, Those are so pretty and I love the colors you blended there. and you got nice deep boxes. I like those the best since I feel I can plant anything I want in them. Those petunias are lovely. Thank you for your visit.

  2. I'll be interested to hear whether these hold up to the weather as well for you as they did for the Hypertufa Gardener.

  3. That's a fantastic result! What a great project.

  4. Well, that is very convincing! It looks terrific.

  5. What a great way to reuse old styrofoam containers and end up with a large stone like planter that isn't quite so heavy. Your stippling looks great and I have no doubt it will look even better as time and further weathering take their turns at aging your piece.

    I'll be watching with interest to see how (because I have no doubt you will!) you figure a way to make these self watering. And I'm most certainly going to be keeping an eye out for styrofoam containers to repurpose. Great post!

  6. They look great! Good job. Now to go find Hypertufa Gardener! Thanks.

  7. Briliant! And beautiful. Must try this.

  8. Thanks for including how you did this. Now I don't feel like I am stealing a really good idea.