Fake Rock Containers

Fake Rock Containers

Part of Ep. 1401 Pot It!

In Mt. Horeb, rock gardening enthusiast Ed Glover shows how to create a lightweight container that looks like it's made from solid rock.  They are durable, lightweight and more practical than real stone.

Premiere date: Mar 04, 2006

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
These are wonderful little container gardens. They're actually miniature rock gardens. Normally, something like this is planted in a very heavy stone trough. But today, we're planting them in something completely different, Styrofoam! These are lightweight and easy to make. I'm with Ed Glover of the North American Rock Garden Society. He's from Mt. Horeb, and is a rock garden fanatic. You've kind of perfected a technique so we can make these incredible lightweight containers.

Ed:
Thank you, Shelley, we have. The heavy stone troughs are very popular but these are easier to make and very simple. This was designed by the Rock Garden Society of Scotland.

Shelley:
This whole technique?

Ed:
That's right. They had a lot of fish boxes laying around and they said, what can we do with these. These are easy to find, any supermarket, fish market. They throw them away, so they'd be happy to give them to you.

Shelley:
We're helping by getting them out of the landfill, too. How do you make something with fish pictures on it into something that looks like this?

Ed:
The most important tool is a wire brush.

Shelley:
Okay, that's easy.

Ed:
That's easy to scrape this up and make it look like a stone trough. One little secret is to spray this with water. Otherwise, you'll have little Styrofoam pellets everywhere.

Shelley:
So, I probably don't want to do this in a real high wind situation, either.

Ed:
No, you don't. It's best of you to do it in your garage or on a windless day with a tarp so that you can really clean up easily. So, what we want to do is hold the wire brush flat and just do a general rough up. That'll take off that color, printing and just give you a nice rough texture. Then, if you turn your wire brush on the side you can really dig in.

Shelley:
That's where you get some of the grooves.

Ed:
That's where you can really get creative. Also, you can see on the end here, we have some hand-holds. Sure, where you've roughed that up, too.

Shelley:
Okay, so it doesn't look like a hand-hold.

Ed:
When you're done, you can't even see that hand-hold exists.

Shelley:
Wow, it's the same spot. It's very soft. I can dent it with my fingernail.

Ed:
We're going to toughen that up by using a heat gun. It's a simple heat gun, like in a hardware store or use for stripping paint. We're going to go over this very briefly to get the whole thing a rough texture. If you follow this groove, you can actually deepen it and make it stand out even more. Once the entire box is done that way-- This has already been heat treated. It's much more crusty. Now we want to make it look like stone.

Shelley:
Like rocks, yeah.

Ed:
The way to do that is to put a base coat of a neutral color on it, either a tan or a gray. I use masonry paint. Any building supply store will have it. It's very durable. You put the base coat of gray paint on there and it looks like a gray box. We want to texture it and really make it look like stone. So, you get artist colors.

Shelley:
Here's the creative part.

Ed:
That's right. These acrylic artist colors are very concentrated. So you just use a chip brush and you put little dabs.

Shelley:
The gray paint is still wet?

Ed:
That's right.

Shelley:
We're blending.

Ed:
Black, burnt umber, brown.

Shelley:
I think kids might have fun with this.

Ed:
Absolutely, and a creative person can really make these look wonderful.

Shelley:
We could make them igneous, metamorphic rock!

Ed:
I like to highlight these grooves. Take your big brush and blend this all together.

Shelley:
Oh, wow! Okay. Now it's starting to look like rock.

Ed:
Very few rocks are just one color. They tend to have little chips and things in them. You could even add a little green to this to give it a moss texture. Now there's what it looks like.

Shelley:
Do we have to treat it, or something?

Ed:
Just let it dry. Most of these paints will dry in at least a day's time. So the one thing you have left to do is to cut some drainage holes in the bottom.

Shelley:
The most important.

Ed:
Before you fill the soil, cover that with window screen or landscape fabric, something like that.

Shelley:
How do they do outside in the wintertime?

Ed:
They're just fine. I've had them out all last winter. I've only had them for a year but I had them out all winter and they were just fine. They're a little fragile to mechanical damage.

Shelley:
So, don't mow near them or climb on them.

Ed:
I put them in back so they don't get kicked or hit by lawn mowers. As far as weather goes, they should be just fine.

Shelley:
What a great idea, thanks Ed. You can plant them with rock garden plants or any other plants you'd like to put in them.

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