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bgaviator

Making a large boulder question

bgaviator
8 years ago

Hello, I just learned about Hypertufa tonight and it's gotten me really excited. I was out pricing large boulders and other smaller landscape boulders today and was floored by how much they were charging, not to mention I have no way of moving a 1,000 lb boulder to my back yard area where I want one.

I have read a couple of threads on this, and the basic mix seems to be easy enough. I kinda get the idea of the chicken wire frames. What I am not sure about is how I could do this to make a large boulder, say 45 inches long, 45 inches wide....not sure on height yet. What do I use for the interior? I've seen people use empty plastic water bottles for small rocks, but what would be ideal to fill the interior volume for a large boulder?

Also, If I go to make a boulder, are they strong enough to actually sit and stand on? Or are they purely for decoration?

If in fact they are strong enough to sit/stand on, can you also use this mix to make say natural looking, flat stone steps that would lead off of a deck? I currently have crappy wooden steps going off my deck....only a couple steps high.....but I've always wanted to have flat, stone steps to replace them with. Can this be done also with Hypertufa? Thanks for helping me out!

Comments (11)

  • acarsme
    8 years ago

    I've been saving any plastic containers/jugs we empty at home. Can I use these for the insides of my boulders, and then wrap them around with chicken wire? Then using the tufa recipe with sand, pack this on to make my boulder? If this would work, how thick should I pack it on to make something you could stand on?

    Should I make my boulders with a flat bottom, or would they look better/more realistic if I made them rounded all the way around? how would I do this? Would I just pack the mix on one side of the boulder first, let that cure, then do the other side?

    Could you theoretically make a boulder retaining wall out of these, or would they not be heavy enough to hold back earth like real boulders would be?

  • billie_ann
    8 years ago

    Strange, I never received a email notice that you replied. Anyway, I thought you wanted to make a large boulder, 45" X 45"? Why are you saving plastic containers/jugs, are they BIG? What's with the chicken wire? You make a form from the material that I mentioned above, you place it where you want the boulder, you make a very dry hypertufa mix and you start placing the mix in a thin layer on the ground around the form and work your way to the top of the form. The first layer has to be a drier mix because if it's too wet it will slide down the sides of the form. Cover with plastic and create shade (umbrella or popup tent) let sit for a couple of hours then spritz with water and carefully add another layer of hypertufa. Since this is so big, the bottom will be flat because you are building it on the ground and no one will be able to see the bottom.

    Regarding boulders for a retaining wall, it would depend on the soil and moisture level.

  • greenhearted Z5a IL
    8 years ago

    I've been thinking about making boulders too using this method. Thanks for the advice billie_ann. I may experiment on a smaller scale and see how they hold up over our cold and wet winters.

  • billie_ann
    8 years ago

    greenhearted, Just make sure you use a hypertufa recipe with sand as an ingredient. You may want to look on the Master Gardeners web site in your state to see if they have any online recipes for your area. I have some containers in colder climates than mine but it's always best if you can find someone local. Thanks for putting your state and climate zone it really helps if you know where someone is located.

  • greenhearted Z5a IL
    8 years ago

    I'll check that out; thank you!

  • acarsme
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    ....getting back to my boulders project, I finally just got the materials to try making some smaller rocks first just to get the hang of things. Using the various recipes that were posted to this site, I decided to use the recipe that called for using a bag of Sand Topping Mix. I put this into it's own plastic tub and added a full box of Buff cement powder color, and mixed it all around. I plan on also using perlite and peat moss. I haven't made the mix yet, but made some small rock frames by wrapping some chicken wire around some plastic bottles. I saw a guy do it this way on a YouTube video.

    I'm convinced that making smaller rocks is no cheaper or easier than buying and handling a pallet of rocks the same size....but my ultimate goal is to make a larger boulder. The only reason I want to do it out of hypertufa is because where I need to place the boulder, there isn't enough clearance to get machinery back there to put a real one in place.

    I watched another YouTube video recently where a guy made a really nice looking boulder just purely using a 3:1 sand to portlant cement mix. The mixture looked thick enough to glop on and sculpt easily. He just plopped it on a bunch of styrofoam packing. Would doing a mixture this way be much stronger and better to use for my boulder compared to a hypertufa recipe?

    I also see that you can add a liquid fortifier to the mix, and also fibers to make things stronger. I could certainly do this if it would ensure my boulder is strong enough to stand on and be climbed on by myself and kids.

  • Tina Dodwell
    7 years ago

    billie_ann

    Are you still on this forum?

  • Cristine Soliz
    10 months ago

    I’m coming here years late after a google search. Thanks for the discussion, during which me an ideaI came to me. I think I’ll try throwing down a bag of cement all or concrete mix. Wetting it down to harden in place and shaping it somewhat. Then shaping wire mesh around it to form my boulder.

  • Cristine Soliz
    10 months ago

    …during which an idea came to me… I did not edit the above before sending. Lol

  • hollysummers summers
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

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