Introduction and a question, if you don't mind.
Hello to all of you. I just registered at this site after lurking for a couple weeks. I am in the middle of completely relandscaping my property (fairly small urban lot, backyard is 10' x 60') after serveral years of neglect. My main focus thus far has been enhancing privacy and soil conditioning. I'm not a big fan of fences but the rental house 20' from my bedroom window has been occupied by the HSU women's rugby team then an all girl punk rock band (nice women but very different lifestyles). SO now I have a nice new 8' tall cedar fence. I had to dig up many established vining plants that were growing along the former 4' tall lattice work seperating the yards. I have also relocated two trees (Japanses Maple and Persian Parrotia) both about 15' tall. Given the narrow yard I've decided to containerize all trees and plants that will grow in my yard. Researching container ideas is what led me to this forum. The work I have seen on this site has been inspirational to me and has fueled my motivation to reclaim my yard from the chaos it was and turn it into a place where I can seek peace and reflect upon beautiful and creative ideas. Thank you for your unintentional encouragement.
Now for my question. I picked up a scrap piece of 4' diameter galvanized steel culvert pipe that stands about 2.5' tall on end. I am going to plant my Japanese Maple tree within it. I'm not fond of the industrial look of my new planter however and I thought in would look much better as a hypertufa covered pot. I imagine a sort of boulder shape (almost donut like with the middle of the sidewall bulging further out than the top and bottom sidewall). I would like it to look as though I had carved the planter out of the top of a large round granite boulder! Realizing the tufa mix will not adhere to the galv. metal I will attach expanded metal lath or some sort of wire reinforcement around the pipe. So here comes my question at last. Not having a mold that I can use to create the shape I would like, would your experience suggest that I pack the tufa by hand using a fairly dry mix or perhaps make a square outer mold to pack the mix into and then attempt to carve and reshape to a shereical form after the mix has set overnite (or some other length of time)? I also would like to ask for any other advice or pointers such as additves to a basic tufa recipe to help structural integrity (although it would be just the weight of the tufa itself since the inner pipe will take the pressure of growning tree roots) or whether or not hypertufa is even appropriate for this project! I should mention that this will be my first tufa project (of many).
Sorry this message became so wordy and thanks for any words of wisdom or warning you might feel like imparting to this inspired newcomer.