Monday, March 11, 2013


Simple, decorative garden spheres are one easy way to create or enhance a focal point in your garden.  Depending on the size, these decorative balls can even top-dress container plantings when used in multiples.  These can be made from concrete or even a fine textured hypertufa. For small balls, I use sand mix concrete but for larger spheres, recycled paper hypertufa works better because it is much lighter in weight.

This recipe is in “parts” which means that as long as your “part” remains consistent you can use any size you’d like. The first time you make it use a smaller size until you get the hang of it.  A small plastic bucket works well.   Fill the dry bucket with cross-cut shredded paper.  Empty into a large plastic mixing container and cover with one part hot water.  Make sure the paper shred is evenly wetted.   Let soak overnight.  This makes the job of pulping the paper a piece of cake.  Put on some latex or rubber gloves and then vigorously knead and mash the wet paper shred into a pulp.  The more you work the pulp, the finer the texture of your hypertufa.   When you are happy with your pulp, add one part sand/ concrete mix (yellow/black/red bag from home improvement stores) in small amounts and mix to a clay-like consistency. If it is too wet and slumps, add more concrete mix.  Now you are ready to make the balls.
Using the same action you use to make a snowball, scoop up the hypertufa and shape into a ball.   Set the finished balls on a plastic covered surface and set a timer for 1 and ½ hours.  When the time is up, reshape the balls back to a perfect sphere.  While they rested, gravity will have caused sagging.  By going back and re-shaping them during their setting time you will end up with nicer, more spherical shapes rather than melting globs.   When the balls have set allow then to cure for a week and then you can place them where you want or use exterior latex paint to decorate and stain them with color.

 These tufa spheres come in handy and can be used as stands for decorative stakes.  To make a simple stand, use a metal rod to pierce a hole in the top of the ball.  When dry, it will serve nicely as a stand for a small garden stake. They make nice toppers for metal stakes or a trellis in the garden.  I have poked my eye more than once on the bare end of a rebar stake in the garden.  These balls are not only decorative, they can be a safety feature! 

 If you poke three equi-distant holes in ball, it will make a nice garden tripod topper for growing vines.

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