Hypertufa is popular for making garden ornaments, pots and land forms. Hypertufa is relatively light compared with terracotta or traditional concrete and can withstand harsh winters, at least down to −30 °C (−22 °F).
Hypertufa was invented for use in alpine gardens. Alpine gardeners formerly used antique animal watering troughs, which became rare and expensive.
Aggregates are generally Sphagnum (peat moss), sand, and perlite or vermiculite. Coconut coir is coming to take the place of sphagnum moss, as the latter is a very slowly renewing natural resource and the former is a ready byproduct of the coconut industry— it has all of the advantages of the moss but without the environmental costs.
To increase structural strength and longevity, polymer fibers, liquid acrylic, and fiberglass may be incorporated into the mixture, along with various grades of sand, pebbles, and crushed rock which add to the final object's overall strength and stone-like appearance though they increase its weight. Powdered concrete dyes (in small amounts) also tint the hypertufa to resemble natural rock.
An example of a Hypertufa Mortar mix (with classic proportions) is a 1:3 mix of cement-to-aggregate, given by a composition of:
- 3 parts Type I Portland cement
- 4 parts Sphagnum or coir
- 5 parts perlite
Restated: 3 parts cement to 9 parts aggregate ("parts" is by volume, not by weight, and is only a very rough measure).
After water is added to the mixture, it is packed into a previously constructed mold, then sealed or covered in plastic and allowed to cure. The object may be carefully removed from its wrapping after 2–3 days for trimming and/or distressing, after which it is re-wrapped for another 3–5 days at which time it is no longer considered "green" and can be handled & worked without danger of breakage. It is then re-wrapped, moistened if necessary & left to cure for a month. The longer the cure, the stronger the hypertufa. After the hypertufa object is completely cured, it is removed from the plastic, rinsed thoroughly, and allowed to sit exposed to the elements for several more weeks to reduce its otherwise-toxic surface alkalinity. It can then be used to hold plants.
- Calhoun, Scott; Lynn Hassler (2009). Hot Pots: Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest. Rio Nuevo Publishers. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-933855-39-4.
- Lorene Edwards Forkner (5 June 2012). Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More. Timber. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-60469-375-1.
- Fingerut, Joyce (2003). Mary Jane McGary (ed.). Rock Garden Design and Construction. Timber Press. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-0-88192-583-8.
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- The editors of Creative Publishing international (2003). The Complete Guide to Finishing Touches for Yards & Gardens (Illustrated ed.). Creative. p. 183. ISBN 1-58923-144-9.