Landscaping With Cinder Blocks

A small planter made of cinder blocks covered with mosaic tiles.

Image via 1001 Gardens

You can do anything in your yard with cinder blocks, from building raised garden beds and retaining walls to making custom outdoor furniture. Once you know how to use them to create, you’ll come up with all sorts of new DIY projects for your outdoor living spaces.

How to Build With Cinder Blocks

Building with cinder blocks is simple. All you really need is muscle, but you can get worn out quickly if you don't pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and work steadily, not quickly. Before you start stacking your blocks, make sure you dig about six inches down into the soil (if they're going on top of dirt) everywhere you plan to place blocks, and make the area as level as possible. The first blocks you lay should always be placed holes up so you can fill them with gravel or sand, which creates a firm base. Make sure you tamp blocks down into the soil so they are secure. Use landscaping fabric to prevent weeds from growing where you don't want them, and get to building.

There are many different ways to use cinder blocks in your landscaping to create something functional and totally one-of-a-kind. Here's just a few ideas.

Build a Wall

A cinder block wall.

Use the blocks to create a wall to provide privacy or divide property. Take the project a step further by constructing the wall to support plant life and become a living wall! If you're building a privacy wall or retaining wall, consider filling cinder block holes with concrete as you build and using mortar to create a tight, firm connection between every block. If you want to build a living wall, stack cinder blocks so the holes face upright all along the top edge. Fill the holes with soil and plants that will grow up and over the edge of the blocks and eventually cover the wall with greenery.

Build Seating

A bench made out of cinder blocks.

There's no limit to what you can create with cinder blocks and your imagination. A great use for cinder blocks is as a cheap alternative to expensive outdoor furniture. Create a simple stack that's low to the ground and long for a basic bench. Or, get creative and stack the blocks at different heights and lengths to create seating in the form of arm chairs or love seats. You can even create an outdoor day bed by covering a large area with cinder blocks to create an elevated space in your outdoor patio. Of course, use foam batting and waterproof fabric to create cushions so everything is extra comfortable.

Build Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds made of cinder blocks.

Raised garden beds are trendy in landscaping, and it's a look that's easy to get. You can build them at any height and any size with cinder blocks, which is perfect if you don't want to kneel over or bend to garden. Just stack the blocks to create a space for your plants anywhere you want, and suddenly your property has a whole new feature. An added bonus: garden beds built with stacked cinder blocks drain naturally, so you're already ahead of the gardening game.

Adding the "Wow" Factor

A purple cinder block wall.

Another great reason to use cinder blocks in your landscaping is because they can be painted and decorated so easily. Lots of landscapers look at cinder blocks and think they’re too gray, too plain, or too industrial-looking. If you agree, use spray paint or acrylic paint in colors of your choice to create designs as simple or as crazy as you want. Depending on your project, you can color each block differently to create fun patterns, or even use a large surface of cinder blocks to paint a mural! You can also get super creative and use glue and glass to create your own mosaic designs, or cheat and simply cover your blocks with mosaic tile. Paint them, tile them, cover them with glass—you can do anything you want to transform cinder blocks.