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How-to: Cinder Block Planters

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I love my apartment. I love that I have a yard that we only share with a couple people (who rarely use it). The only problem with my yard is that its soil isn’t very hospitable for growing a vegetable garden. Last year, I learned this lesson the hard way. So this year, I built a railroad tie flower garden. PS, railroad ties are treated with toxic chemicals that shouldn’t come in contact with plants intended to be eaten, so don’t make a railroad tie garden hoping to raise veggies in it!

In the spirit of further beautifying my yard, I decided to make a super mod planter out of cinder blocks. Full disclosure, I first saw the idea at one of my favorite architecture/home decor blogs, Freshome. Here’s my take on it; scroll down for the how-to:


lots of cinder blocks! get a mixture of blocks with two holes and one hole

potting soil

some plants of your choosing

a couple of ceramic tiles


Arrange your cinder blocks in a pattern that’s appropriate for your space. Fair warning – cinder blocks are really heavy! I pulled most of the muscles in my body the other day when I was hauling them around my yard finding just the right place for my garden. I’m kind of an idiot sometimes.

By the way, if you need a retaining wall, a cinder block garden is a cute option to serve your needs!

Once you settle on a location and setup, you need to fill the openings that are going to be planters with potting soil. Sometimes the openings will line up. I had one opening that went down four layers of blocks-worth, and I realized I’d be wasting a ton of potting soil filling that deep opening. I had some ceramic tiles laying around and used those to add bottoms to the two too-deep openings I had in my arrangement.


Pot your plants in each opening as you see fit. I got a variety of colorful perennials, so they’ll come back every year. My yard doesn’t have any grass (wtf, landlord?), which had me dying for some color down there last year. I’m pretty excited about this so far, but I do think I’ll add more flowers as I find ones I like. The perennials in them now are all varieties that bloom in spring. I think it might be nice to get some that bloom mid-summer and in fall. If you have any suggestions for me for other flowers to incorporate, let me know!

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