Introduction and a question, if you don't mind.

snowdog1(z9 Humboldt)August 30, 2005

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.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Believe it or not, I saw a tree ring several years ago almost exactly like what you are describing and was so impressed, I asked how they had built it. They had constructed a base about 6" deep around the perimeter by digging out a hole in the ground out to the outer finish diameter , centered the galvanized pipe, then poured quikrete to fill the outer section just below grade. Once that had set (an hour) they simply built up a "rock" around it by hand using a very dry lightweight concrete mix with a lot of fiber added (helped it stay in place easier). You could save a lot of concrete by building up a spray foam core then covering that with your mix as long as you allow for 3-4" of concrete for strength. I also noticed they had formed some lath over the top edge and covered the pipe's upper edge down below the tree's soil level so that it did not show at all once the dirt was in place. The final finish was a mix of dry "shake-on" concrete colors and a little acid color stippled on with a stiff brush. Very well done and virtually identical to real rock (they went for a speckled, reddish granite). As I recall the only negative was that it held a bit too much water because the soil below it was high in clay. The "fix" would have been to simply amend the soil below or dig it out and place rock & gravel for drainage.

Best of luck, I just wish I'd had a camera with me back was really great looking.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 11:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gottatufa(z5 ny)

Hello Snowdog and welcome to the forum.
Your idea sounds very appealing. I love donuts! :)
Tango has a great idea with building up the center part. Tango, didn't you have a thread telling how to paint tufa to look like granite? I tried to find it but couldn't. It was very informative.
Snowdog, you could form a framework of chicken wire and fill it with styrofoam, packing peanuts, anything, tin cans, your kid's old toys, stale bread??, what ever you come up with. When you tufa the form, you can do it in stages. It's ok if one stage cures before the next. Just wet the dry parts and brush on an admix and it will be fine. I hope you take pictures for us. We would love to see your progress.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
snowdog1(z9 Humboldt)

Ok thanks for the input. Tango88 glad to hear this idea has been tried with good results. I'm mulling that idea of a below ground form. Not sure I completely understand this. After curing was the tree ring then lifted up to sit above ground? Wouldn't that be quite heavy! I love the idea of a rollover top edge to cover the pipe lip. I really wish I could see pics of the proccess. I still have to read up on the coloring steps. So far I've been occupied with the structure and form issues.

Gottatufa when you say working in stages is fine do you mean that in a layering way or more like sections around the pipe can be done at different times? Wouldn't there be craking or pulling apart issues? If it is not a probelm to work in sections I could see making a small form and treating the planter like an Orange and building a wedge or slice at a time. Hmmmm I'll keep mulling this over. My next step is to break up the ground where the planter will sit so that I don't have drainage issues and then get the pipe in position. I don't want to move it at all once I've applied the tufa!
I will start taking pictures once I'm making forward progress and see if I can figure out how to post them here.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The below grade work was only intended to provide a stable base to build the "rock" on top of. My guess is they put a little sand on bottom for drainage under the solid base. Once poured, it stays put and you just build up on top of it.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 6:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gottatufa(z5 ny)

The drainage issue is a good one that Tango brought up. He is the master. Sand would be excellant for drainage like he says, or even peagravel. You can build in layers at different times. You know how tufa behaves with molds and how we have to use releases? Well think about that when building on layers of tufa. You know it is going to stick!


    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 7:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
puddle_of_mud(NC - zone 7)

Welcome to the mudhole, snowdog1! It's always good to have another Tufahead, hanging around. Here's a link to one of our very favorite Tufaheads, (Marly/Buddyfly) posts from last year. I thought you might find it very interesting.
Make sure you scroll down the page to see more photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Marly's Well

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 11:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
snowdog1(z9 Humboldt)

Wow Puddle of Mud that is a very helpful link indeed. Looks like Marly's well was a great project and it turned out so well indeed (pun intended). I think I can apply a similar technique to my tree planter pipe project!

Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 12:18AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
New at Hypertufa
I am just getting started at doing hypertufa. I have...
From a Halloween mask to a Green-man
This garden green-man was made in two pieces one from...
Stone Circle
I have mostly lurked here, only posting a couple of...
Sand or no sand
This is one part of the various recipes that always...
Large and Thick Hypertufa
I have made a very large (for me) hypertufa trough....
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™