Get Some Great Cinder Block Garden Ideas | Properly Rooted (2024)

The cinder block has long been known as critical piece of masonry that’s invaluable in the construction of buildings and other such structures. Yet a funny thing has happened to this cold, impersonal-looking hunk of concrete. It’s been allowed to live a dual life as an essential component to a garden, as its combination of weight, sturdiness, and design makes it versatile enough to be the backbone of some rather innovative concepts. Here’s a look at some of the most progressive ideas out there.

1. The Ultimate Planter

The most recognizable feature of a cinder block are the two gaping holes that dominate their surface area. These holes play an important role in a cinder block’s traditionally intended use, as they lighten the unit’s weight and improve insulation without compromising its sturdiness. Yet as many people have discovered, they also make killer planters.

Because they can withhold whatever nature throws their way, these bulwarks can easily double as immovable homes for foliage and their dirt. You can be confident that a cinder block will not only stand up to weather, but also to the plants’ own growth.

Cinder blocks are also designed to be stacked; once they are, they’re not going anywhere. If you have a touch of creativity and ingenuity in your bones, you can use this to your advantage, staggering them to create intriguing patterns that can instantly turn your backyard into a cool conversation piece.

2. DIY Raised Garden Beds

If you have intentions of growing crops in your backyard, you don’t necessarily have to resort to buying a garden bed, or even constructing one of your own from wood. A properly placed arrangement of cinder blocks will do the trick, and do it well.

Because they’re so easily stackable, you can make the bed as high as you need. You can also fill their holes with dirt, just in case you want a little extra reinforcement. You can even use these holes to plant other vegetation, to give your garden bed an extra touch of character.

Perhaps the most advantageous part about making a raised garden bed from cinder blocks is that it gives you the opportunity to expand its size to accommodate your growing desires. You can’t move a border in a store-bought box, but you can do it here, albeit by breaking a bit of a sweat.

3. Cinder Block Shelves

The holes of a cinder block aren’t just great for plant placement. They also work rather well for wooden beams. This match can be exploited rather well for your garden if you’re looking to add unique, cost-effective elevation to your greenery.

If you thread a few wooden beams through the blocks’ holes, you’ll have an instant shelving unit that daresay may be more stable than the flimsy units you may find in your neighborhood garden store. Again, because cinder blocks are so easily stackable, you can design this shelf to be as high or low as you’d like.

What’s more, you can space this makeshift shelving unit to be as long or short as possible. Its length will be determined by how many plants you’d like to place on its surface. Just don’t overdo things – you don’t want to create a unit that’s excessively busy.

4. Cinder Blocks as Canvases

If you’re worried about cinder blocks turning your garden into a concrete jungle of dismal gray, don’t fret. They can be painted to fit in with whatever color scheme you’ve already built in your garden. In fact, they make excellent canvases that will allow you to show off your creative side.

If you just want to add a pop of color just to keep them from being gray, adding a coat of paint will do the trick nicely. However, feel free to go a little nuts if you’re so inclined. Paint geometric patterns of different hues. Use the gray base as negative space. Even put a few blocks together and turn it into one multi-block work of art.

Of course, the caveat to doing this is that you still want to make sure what you’re doing matches the overall motif of your garden. Not doing so will make the block stand out, and not necessarily in a good way.

5. Make a Cinder Block Bench

The cool thing about mixing cinder blocks and wooden beams is that they can withstand a lot of force and weight. They can even combine to hold up people if they wood is thick and sturdy enough. Because of this, you can forego the trip to your nursery’s garden furniture section and make your own bench.

Like most cinder block projects, the key to this creation is their ability to be stackable and immovable. Just determine how wide you want your bench to be, build each “end” of the bench with appropriately arranged cinder blocks, and thread the sturdy wood beams through.

Once you’ve put the frames in place, you can then take your creation to the next level by festooning it with various garden pillows, blankets, or any other similar accoutrements to give it additional character. If you neutralize the bench’s bones in their natural state, your guests won’t pay much attention to its construction. This is a good thing.

If you’d prefer to keep things natural, there’s one thing to keep in mind: spacing. Because of the way cinder blocks are designed, you will end up with gaps between the beams when you sit. It’s like slats on an old-school wooden chair, only larger.

Yet with that or any other use, you’ll find that a cinder block can be utilized as the versatile backbone of virtually any basic garden motif. Add into the fact that their usage tends to save you a healthy chunk of money, and it’s easy to see why the use of these sturdy hunks of concrete have become such an effective piece of many a person’s gardening puzzle.

Photo by Dennis Yang Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Get Some Great Cinder Block Garden Ideas | Properly Rooted (2024)


What do you put on the bottom of a cinder block planter? ›

Here's How to Make a Raised Bed Garden with Cinder Blocks:

Lay down some weed fabric, cardboard, or newspaper, and add your soil to both the main bed and all of the holes in the blocks. If you like to sit while you garden, leave a couple of the holes in the blocks empty. Then start planting.

Can you grow vegetables in cinder blocks? ›

Stay away from old-fashioned cinder blocks, which may contain heavy metals—not a good thing for food gardens. Second, a concrete block bed can affect your soil's pH, making it more alkaline, so it's not good for growing acid-loving plants like blueberries.

How do you build a cinder block vegetable garden? ›

How to Build a DIY Cinder Block Garden Bed
  1. Calculate the Dimensions. A typical cinder block is 8 x 8 x 16 inches. ...
  2. Mark Off the Area. ...
  3. Prepare the Ground. ...
  4. Arrange the Cinder Blocks. ...
  5. Add Another Layer of Blocks (Optional) ...
  6. Fill Perimeter With Dirt. ...
  7. Fill With Topsoil and Plant.
Feb 27, 2024

How many cinder blocks do I need for a 4x8 garden bed? ›

20 blocks will give an interior bed area of 4′ x 8′. Leave a side open to bring in the soil until the new bed is filled. No mortar or special installation is necessary unless you desire a bed which is higher than 8″ raised over the surrounding area.

Should I put chicken wire under my raised garden bed? ›

Gophers will get into your raised beds as soon as they find the chicken wire has rusted away. Use stainless steel or double galvanized “gopher wire” which is made specifically to last in underground applications like lining raised beds, making gopher baskets, etc.

Why put cardboard in raised beds? ›

It acts as a physical barrier to block out pernicious weeds. Usually, 2 – 3 layers of cardboard will suffice, though you may want layers in more weed-prone areas. The damp environment created by the cardboard is conducive to earthworms and other beneficial soil microorganisms.

What vegetables grow well in cinder blocks? ›

I have had a lot of success growing the pak choy in the holes. I have also grown onions and shallots, herbs and flowers.

How to build a raised garden bed out of cinder blocks? ›

How to Build a Cinder Block Garden
  1. Measure your garden area. Confirm your bed design will fit in the allocated location in your yard. ...
  2. Remove grass or prepare the topsoil. ...
  3. Lay the blocks with the holes facing up. ...
  4. Secure the blocks in place. ...
  5. Fill your DIY garden with drainage material and soil.
Feb 1, 2022

How long do cinder block garden beds last? ›

Also, the wood will eventually rot while cinder block will last essentially forever. I know I could just lay the blocks on the surface and let them be, but I want them to be at least a little aesthetically pleasing.

How do you landscape with cinder blocks? ›

Garden beds: Cinder blocks can be stacked to create raised garden beds. This can be a great option for growing plants in areas with poor soil quality or for creating an organized garden layout.

How many cinder blocks for 500 sq ft? ›

With these dimensions, it will cover 10 × 50 = 500 square feet. If you use a standard 16" x 8" block, the area of a single block is 128 square inches, and you will need 563 concrete blocks, as 500 ft² / 128 in² = 72,000 in² / 128 in² = 562.5 (rounding up to the nearest whole number).

Can I use cinder blocks for a bed frame? ›

Use cinder blocks. Not only do they work wonderfully as a bed frame, but they also provide under-the-bed storage at the same time. Using cinder blocks allows you to choose exactly how far off the ground you want your bed to be.

What blocks are best for raised beds? ›

Build your raised bed with a decay-resistant type of wood, such as cedar, black cherry, oak (bur, chestnut, post, white), black locust, Osage orange, or redwood. (Source: USDA Forest Products Lab) Use a non-wood material such as stones, concrete blocks, bricks, or synthetic lumber.

What do you line the bottom of a planter with? ›

Pond liners work well for lining the bottom of a planter. Simply push the liner into the base of the planter and cut drainage holes in the bottom using household or gardening scissors.

Should I put anything in the bottom of my planter box? ›

Your planter should always have holes it in to stop overwatering. Depending on what plant I'm using I often put a layer of gravel in the bottom if the plant likes really good drainage. If not just good quality compost.

What is the best bottom for a planter box? ›

Cardboard or newspaper: Cardboard is a great option if you are on a budget. You can line the bottom of your raised garden bed with cardboard and newspaper to deter pests and weeds.

What to put in the bottom of a large planter to take up space? ›

Recycled Plastics

If you have recycled plastic lying around, such as water or soda bottles, grocery bags, or milk and juice jugs, use them to fill the bottom of your large planter. The plastic is of more use in the base of your tall planter than in a landfill.

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