How To Make A Cinder Block Planter Wall

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This weekend my wife and I decided to make a version of a cinder block planter wall for succulents that we had once seen in the courtyard of a coffee shop in Austin, Texas. We made this DIY cinder block planter wall or cement block wall, in about four hours, not including the time spent going to the home improvement store to buy the cinder blocks, paint and plants. The total cost for this cinderblock divider wall was only about $140. We built this simple concrete planter wall to provide shade, privacy and a place to place plants on our front porch. It was placed in an open space between two columns on a stained concrete front porch. It was a relatively easy project that required a minimum of tools and materials. Below is a photo of the completed cement block  planter wall. It is not perfect, and there are a few things that I would have done differently, (such as taking more care in laying the blocks,) but overall we were pleased with the results and the value for the money spent. This DIY cinder block planter / privacy wall measures approximately 5′ wide by 6.5′ tall. It consists of 40 cinder blocks.

You May Click On Any Of The Photos Below To Enlarge

Succulent planter wall made of cinder blocks

Here are the materials you will need to build a cinder block planter wall of similar size:

                                            Materials

  • 40 cement 15 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ blocks. (Sometimes these are referred to as “cinder blocks.” ($1.30 each.)
  • 4 Large tubes of Loctite PL375 adhesive and a large caulking gun. ($5.00 per tube.)
  • 1 bag of mortar to level the surface, if needed. Otherwise, use PL375 to glue blocks down. ($8.00.)
  • 2 cans (1 box) of Synta Deck Restore, tinted to the color of your choice. ($39.00.) If you want to hide the block seams, buy an extra kit of Deck Restore and do another coat.
  • 14 plastic terra cotta color pots. ($1.75)
  • 14 various succulents. (Average of less than $1.00 each.) Tip: Buy a large pre – potted planter that has several type of succulents and break them apart to save money.
  • Metal “L brackets” to secure wall to wood posts at 2′ intervals.
  • Masonry screw anchors.

                                        Tools

  • Large size caulking gun.
  • Masonry trowel
  • Paint roller handle.
  • Tub to mix mortar in, if mortar is needed to level base.
  • Medium size paintbrush.
  • Rough paint roller.
  • 4′ level
  • Gloves
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting.
  • Drill and masonry bit.

 

Cinder Block Planter Wall Instructions:

Measure the length of the area in which you want to build your cinder block planter wall and decide what height you want to make it. ( Important Note: I do not recommend using this method to build a 6.5′ free standing wall out in the open. These instructions are for a wall that is held captive, or which fits up against, or within a structure to help support it.) If your planter wall is going to be out in the open, where it could potentially be knocked over by someone placing all of their weight against it, you need to use a different building method in which you have re-bar coming up out of a new cement foundation to help hold the blocks in place.

Next, divide the length of the area where your wall will go by 15.5″. This will give you roughly the number of blocks needed for each course. The actual number of blocks will depend on how many blocks jutting out from the wall you desire, and if you want planters on both sides of the wall, as we made ours.  Next, draw a rough sketch of how you want your planter to look, and how you plan to lay your blocks. You may want to lay the blocks dry, and experiment before doing anything permanent.

Start by making sure that the base is level. (Hint: This is the key to the whole project.)  If you do not have a concrete base to lay the first course of cinder blocks on, you will have to build a form and pour a level base. These instructions assume that you are going to be building your wall on an existing concrete base. Next, if you need to level the foundation, mix up a batch or mortar and use your trowel to lay a course of mortar. If you don’t need to use mortar, then lay a generous bed of PL375 to glue the blocks down.

cinder block planter wall instructions  Our cement block planter wall almost done.

(Click On Photos To Enlarge.)

Apply a generous amount of PL375 adhesive beneath and between the blocks as you go. Also use it to caulk the seams on the outsides of the wall. Wipe off any excess before it dries and tap errant blocks into place before it hardens. You will find that blocks jutted out will not stand in place on their own. Place another concrete block  on top of them to hold them down until the adhesive dries. Having a helper to hold jutted out cinder blocks in place while you lay the next course is a plus. As you lay each course of blocks, try to stagger them so that there is a 1/2 block lying over each seam below it. This is not always possible. Some home improvement stores sell 1/2 cinder blocks, which can come in very handy to achieve this.

Our finished cement block planter wall ready for plants.

We decided not to put bottoms in our cinder block planters. Instead, we used plastic “terra cotta” pots which fit snugly in the holes. If you wish to put a bottom in the blocks, you can cut sections of concrete pavers using a masonry saw, and glue them into the bottom of the block. Although not seen in the photo, the wall was secured to the wood post on the left and the rock wall on the right using “L” brackets and masonry screws at 2′ intervals to prevent it from being knocked over.

Disclaimer: Always follow your local building codes and proper building procedures for your area. These instructions are provided for idea purposes only and will not apply to all circumstances where a more secure method of supporting the wall is required.

Just one more tip: We used a Lowes 10% off coupon at Home Depot to save about $15 on our project. You can buy these for about a buck on eBay:
Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions on how this project worked out for you, and what improvements you made to it. Have fun!

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