This is the first trough I made several years ago. It had just been planted with a heather, sedums, ferns and moss at the time of this picture.

The plants filled in nicely. Ajuga was added.

A winter shot with the heather blooming. The other plants are dormant.

All looking good. The heather needs pruning to give room to the smaller guys.

This is the second trough made the next year. Its heather planting is overtaking the heucheras and dianthus.

A close up of trough number two showing moss, heuchera, sedum and a coleus that seeded itself.

The heather was lost with the late frost this year. Japanese blood grass was added for color. A small piece of the heather is hanging on at the left back corner. Impatiens volunteer seedling blooming.

I am no expert at this, but here are instructions to make your own trough.

Making a Trough
Select two plastic tubs that fit inside each other with a 2-3 inch space on each side, or build forms from wood. Line the larger form with plastic. Mix together equal parts; sieved sphagnum peat moss, perlite and portland cement in a wheelbarrow. I use a five gallon bucket to measure. Add water, a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency of oatmeal. Do not make it too wet. At this time you may add cut up fiber mesh, colorant and/or bonding agent. These items may be found at a building supply. Mix well. Fill the lined form to a depth of 2-3 inches. Insert dowels or something in the bottom to make drainage holes that can be later removed. Place the smaller form on top of the mix, centered. Fill in sides with mixture. Cover the entire form with plastic and let set out of direct sunlight for at least one day, maybe two. Be patient. I have ruined many attempts at trough construction by unmolding too soon. Carefully remove the top mold and plastic, then remove the trough from the bottom mold. It should be firm but allow you to clean up the edges with a knife, file or wire brush. I sometimes use gloved hands to round the edges. When satisfied, cover the whole thing with plastic and let cure for at least four weeks. At the end of that time, fill with a free draining potting mix, I use cactus potting mix, and plant. This is the fun part, experimenting with the plantings. For more and better instructions on the how to, search the internet for hypertufa information.

Remember, have patience and have fun!


This entry was posted in Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Troughs

  1. Nan Ondra says:

    Your troughs are amazing, Frances! It’s not often you see troughs planted with ferns and other shady characters, or with winter interest in mind. I have a trough that I like to keep on my porch because it would get “lost” in the garden, but I’ve never had much luck with the plants I chose for it. Now, you’ve inspired me to try a woodland theme. Thanks for that, and happy holidays!

  2. tina says:

    I am so glad to see I am not the only one “working”-oops-I mean “blogging” on Christmas Day!

    I have made some hypertufa pots by using plant pots and cardboard boxes. I too have sometimes unmolded it too soon. I have found if I add water and remix then I can save the initial mixture. Try that if you do it again. Saves alot of work!

    I will try the two plastic tub. Never thought of using tubs. I was going to build a wood frame but too much work. Thanks for the recipe and your plant pots are gorgeous!

    I am sending you my link to my blog as I think I forgot to give it too you when I first visited from Dave’s blog. Merry Christmas.

    I am fortunate I am blogging through our local newspaper (the oldest continuously operating newspaper in Tennessee.) It helps with readership but I have found some disadvantages. It is a different community from the Garden Blog directory. Have you checked garden blogs on newspaper sites? The Tennessean has some bloggers too. It is all the rage now it seems. Increases their viewership. Here it is.

    Merry Christmas and don’t work (blog) too hard this holiday season.:)

  3. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Thanks for the recipe (ahem) for making troughs. Yours look stunning!

    Merry Christmas Frances!

  4. Frances says:

    Nan…Merry Christmas. Thanks for the encouraging words at a time when all are busy with their real lives rather than blogdom. The troughs are fun and the planting is the most fun. Try anything and everything and see what grows, just like in the real garden.

  5. Frances says:

    Tina…Merry Christmas to you. I have found it easier to stockpile drafts for the blog and just publish the ones that feel right that day. After the holiday traveling is over there will be ‘work’ to be done. Good luck with the troughs, they are rewarding aren’t they?

  6. Frances says:

    yolanda elizabet…Merry Christmas belatedly to you. Thanks for visiting and I hope you find something of interest here at Faire Garden to keep you and all returning for a peek.

  7. Shady Gardener says:

    I’m a late posting here… due to the link to your container garden. You’ve hooked me on this one. I’m going to try my hand at this sometime soon!! 🙂

  8. Pingback: How To Make A Hypertufa Trough « Fairegarden

  9. Your troughs are gorgeous. I always tell myself that I want to do this yet have never done so. Maybe this summer. 🙂

  10. Christy says:

    Hi Frances…I love your troughs. I am going to a hypertufa workshop put on by Tina, a fellow blogger, next week . We are going to make smaller, round ones. One day, if I gain confidence, maybe I can make a big one like yours.

Comments are closed.