by Matt Gibson
Cinder blocks, on their own, are not an object that most people would consider beautiful, or even aesthetically pleasing, however, there is a hot new trend of people using cinder blocks in garden design, and the results are surprisingly beautiful. Anyone can turn a cinder block into a planter with very little effort, but a simple cinder block planter isn’t going to turn any heads. The ingenious ways in which modern landscapers have been incorporating cinder blocks into garden designs are simply incredible.
Using cinder blocks to create your own unique garden features is fun, cheap, and easy. When making a raised bed, you get to select your own height. If you want your bed close to the ground, you can use just one layer of cinder blocks. If you want to raise your beds up high to take some of the pressure off of your back, simply add a few more layers of cinder blocks to the foundation.
Stack the blocks on the outer walls of your beds with the holes facing upwards, so that you can fill them with soil too and get even more planting space out of your beds. If you are using your beds to grow large flowers, you can use the holes on the outer wall to plant smaller flowers to create a nice frame for the centerpiece.
Cinder block-based garden features, when constructed thoughtfully, can be elegant, clever, and even futuristic. The following 15 cinder block garden ideas are great examples of how you can repurpose cheap building materials to spruce up your garden space.
The Cinder Block Staircase
Homestead and prepper featured this simple staircase design. While it’s not extravagant or futuristic, the cinder block potted staircase is a space saving idea that looks sharp, especially when used to display bright, colorful flowers with attractive foliage.
For the staircase design, simply create several walls made of cinder blocks, using each top block to hold soil and mature flowers or herbs, making each wall taller than the one before. This easy design allows for plenty of planting room behind each row as well.
Make Raised Bed for Salad Greens
To make the perfect salad green bed, use cinder blocks to raise the bed up several layers. Don’t fill the center with soil to the top, but leave a full block of space to protect your young pants from harsh winds. Use the holes of the cinder blocks on the outer walls to grow onions or micro greens while using the main beds for your most prized salad greens, like romaine. This way, you get a good variety of options to add to your salad, while the strong cinder block borders keep the onions from jumping over the fence and invading the salad green sections.
Another ingenious way to modify your raised salad green beds is to install an irrigation system into the design, like how they did in the picture shown.
Install Multiple Beds with Varying Heights
This may seem like a no-brainer of an idea, but a simple way to set off each of your homemade raised beds is to have them all clock in at different heights. If you have plants that you want to protect from the wind, raise the bed structures up high, but don’t put as much soil in the beds so that there is plenty of room for wind protection.
If you are growing large vertical plants, it might be a good idea to leave those beds low to the ground, as the plants will rise up to you so that you can keep them pruned and deadheaded accordingly. Meanwhile, low-growing plants might be well suited to tall raised beds. Why bend down low and put additional stress on your back and knees when you can raise the work up to you and get it done while standing up.
Build Strong, Lasting Structures
Just because cinder blocks are big and strong, doesn’t mean that they don’t benefit from good design techniques and reinforcement when it’s called for. If you are making raised beds that are higher than one layer, be sure to stack the blocks so that the joints from the first layer are placed in the center of the blocks in the next layer. If you are stacking your cinder block beds up pretty high, you may want to reinforce the structure by pushing a length of rebar down into each corner of the bed through the holes on the very edges of the beds, Use a sledgehammer to pound the rebar into the ground and add a layer of stability to your project.
Don’t Believe the Hype!
As soon as you start thinking outside the box and repurposing cinder blocks in your garden, some nosy neighbor will let you know that they seem to recall an article that they read somewhere about cinder blocks being made with chemicals that could be toxic to garden plants, and could even contaminate your vegetables and lead you to eat poisoned garden goods. This is nothing to worry about and hasn’t been an issue in quite some time.
Though this may have been at some point in our history, cinder blocks are about as safe as they come these days, and perfectly suitable for using in the garden. The contaminate that was once a danger, fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal, hasn’t been used to manufacture cinder blocks in the US for over 50 years. So tell Gertrude to stop spreading those rumors!
Aside From Raised Beds And Unique Planters, Check Out These Inventive Ways To Use Cinder Blocks To Make Your Garden Shine
Cinder Block Bench – This bench is simply genius [https://hips.hearstapps.com/clv.h-cdn.co/assets/17/12/1490036584-screen-shot-2017-03-20-at-30132-pm.png?crop=1.0xw:1xh;center,top&resize=980:*]. Get the tutorial on how to build your own here: http://ww7.iconhomedesign.com/
Cinder Block Fire Pit – This simple fire pit design we found on Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/p/BUAYW8NFO_k/?utm_source=ig_embed] may not be the most elegant fire pit you could make, but it serves its intended purpose with no complaints or misgivings from the blocks whatsoever.
Cinder Block Fireplace – This cinder block fireplace on the other hand [https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196610339952328362/], is so well-crafted, it is hard to believe that it’s made out of cinder blocks, but believe it or not, that’s all it took.
Cinder Block BBQ Pit – For those of us who would gladly dedicate a large area of their garden getaway to the art of smoking meat, this massive cinder block fashioned BBQ pit [https://www.pinterest.com/pin/196610339952328362/] is a mouthwatering way to make the most out of your backyard, and the result of this undertaking, is downright delicious.
Now That You’ve Got Cinder Blocks In Your Garden, Here’s A Few Tips To Make Them Stand Out
Stenciled Cinder Blocks – Just a few stencil cut-outs and some spray paint and you can turn any boring cinder block into a colorfully designed brick planter [https://www.instagram.com/p/BTwC_k6ABja/?utm_source=ig_embed]. Just ask Instagram user CraftBoxGirls [https://www.instagram.com/craftboxgirls/].
Create A Rustic Border With Shale or Metal Flats – Instead of using the inner hollows of the cinder blocks to plant additional plants on the outskirts of your beds, lay in some decorative flats, such as shale tiles or corrugated metal flats. Picture Link: https://offgridworld.com/12-amazing-cinder-block-raised-garden-beds/
Throw In A Few Mosaics – Though the link to her blog, “Grow and Resist,” seems to be broken, this picture should give you a good idea of the many different ways you could approach turning your cinder blocks into works of mosaic art to make your garden shine! Picture Link: https://offgridworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/cinder-block-beds11.jpg
Make Raised Beds With Cinder Blocks and Pressure Treated Logs –
Cinder Block Structures Are Not Limited To Just Beds, Check Out These Inventive Planters and Other Cool Ideas That Really Stand-Out!
The Vertical Cinder Block Planter Wall – Picture Link: https://offgridworld.com/12-amazing-cinder-block-raised-garden-beds/ The vertical wall is a way to use cinder blocks to save space in your garden while adding a neat modern flare.
Cinder Block Steps – Follow this link to StepByStep’s DIY tutorial [https://thefigure5.wordpress.com/category/steps/] to make your own cinder block garden steps. All you need is some cinder blocks and a good bit of loose gravel.
Living Wall Designs – Not all cinder block plant walls need to be boring and straight. Have a little fun with an odd design like this one, from Instagram user Nancy Dunnell [https://www.instagram.com/p/BRjaYXKjrNZ/?utm_source=ig_embed]
Don’t Let These Ideas Put You In A Box!
If you come up with ways to incorporate cinder blocks into your garden that we missed, leave us a comment or share pictures on our facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/Thegardeningchannel/]