Making stonelike small troughs is
easy. Here is my way of making them with papercrete.
Concrete is composed of Portland
cement plus one or more different kinds of filler such as sand, pebbles, peat
moss, perlite, and paper. These are
known as aggregates and different
ones give you different effects.
Papercrete is a variant of
concrete and hypertufa but uses finely shredded paper instead of peat moss. Proportions are: *** 3 parts Portland Cement, Type I
** 2 parts (dry volume, loosely packed) finely
shredded paper, and
** 2 to 3 parts perlite or sand.
make it too papery. Small newspaper shreds from a paper shredder are absorbent
and easy to work with. Papercrete has a
fairly smooth consistency and the paper fibers make it easy to shape. If made properly it is weatherproof and fireproof. Water
is added at about 1 part water to 7 parts dry ingredients, but this is variable.
Supply Checklist __ all ingredients
for papercrete (see above) __nails __scissor __mold or form for
the troug __rubber gloves __trowel or small
shovel for mixing __dust mask __board for
making and carrying the project on __waterproof
plastic or rubber mixing container __drop cloths to protect working area __water and
measuring cup __plastic sheeting and duct tape
Supplies. Use rubber
gloves, a large trowel or small shovel, a dust mask, a wheelbarrow or mixing
container, plastic sheeting to protect your work space, a mold or form for the
trough, plastic bags to line the mold or form, a source of water, a measuring
cup, and a large, sturdy board upon which to make and transport your project.
Pick a Project. Decide what size
and shape of trough you will make. The first time you do this, keep it small. Get
your mold or form ready and place it on a plastic-covered carrying board. Make
your trough inside or outside the form.
Get Ready. Put on the gloves
and dust mask and then pour all the dry ingredients into the wheel-barrow or
mixing container. Break up lumps. *** Do
not add water until the mold or form is ready and sitting on the carrying board.
*** When the concrete mix is wet you can remove your mask.
Basic Mixing Technique.
the ingredients with as LITTLE water as possible (eg.7 cups mix and 1 cup of
water) and knead it in thoroughly. Make a stiff dough that holds its shape
without dripping or crumbling. Add water or mix if necessary to correct the
consistency. Smack and pat the concrete mixture into the inside of, or onto the
outside of, your mold or form. Work it very firmly to get out the air bubbles.
A SMALL TROUGH INSIDE A DISPOSABLE FORM.
simplest method I know for making a small trough is to use a small round or
square a polystyrene food container or a disposable paper paint mixing bucket. Set
it on the carrying board. Put on your gloves and mask and mix the concrete. Press
in the dampened concrete mix, firmly, making an even bottom and building up the
walls. An inch or more of thickness, evenly applied, is good. Cut out or shape
a drainage hole in the center. On its board, carry it to a shady, dry place,
covered with plastic, and let it set for about 48 hours. Remove the trough,
cutting away the form if necessary. The form can be used again if you just slit
it on one side and tape it firmly next time.
Gently wrap the trough with plastic sheeting. On its carrying board, move the covered
trough to a dry, shady place such as the garage. To clean up, immediately rinse out your mixing tools and mixing
container with water, before the concrete mix hardens. This will be a very alkaline
mixture so be careful where you dump it out (not on the acid-soil-loving azaleas!).
Don't put it down the drain or it could cause clogging.
Let the project cure for over 24 hours but not over 48 hours. It may feel warm
after 20 to 30 hours – it is curing. Remove it from the wrappings very
carefully and then take time to sand, scratch, smooth out, or age the surface
until the shape and texture appeal to you, using an old chisel, can opener, ice
scraper, or other sturdy tool. Antique troughs of real stone were chiseled.
Scrape off all stiff-looking edges, bubbles from molding, and the like. Rewrap
it in the plastic and continue curing it in a cool, shady place. 28 days is
ideal but 14 days has worked for me.
It continues to age and cure after use.
Planting. When the trough
has cured, use it like any weatherproof flowerpot. The cement is somewhat
alkaline, especially when new. Choose small plants in proportion to the
container, then set them into place using soil suited to the type of plant. Top
the soil with a mulch of small stones or grit, or for shady gardens, a sheet of
complete guide to making and planting large or small hypertufa troughs, refer to
the book Creating and Planting Garden
Troughs, by Joyce Fingerut and Rex Murfitt Find it at www.mackeybooks.com or www.amazon.com. For an illustrated guide to papercrete, order the CD from me at B. B. Mackey Books, P.O. Box 475, Wayne, PA 19087. It runs on Windows computers. For USA customers only, it is $10.00 postpaid.