Cinder Block Entryway Planter

6 Materials
3 Days

Large cement planters make for great, modern outdoor style. However, as a DIY option, they take a lot of cement, and building the forms is no small task. When I saw these smaller, solid cinder blocks available at Menards for only $1.09, I decided to give this simple technique a shot. We're thrilled with the results.

Front Stoop

This is the area we wanted to upgrade. We'd recently added an awning to our front stoop and pulled out our old, wood planter. The 4x4 awning supports left a bit of an eyesore we'll be building the planter around.

Tools and Materials

  • pea gravel
  • cinder blocks
  • mason chisel
  • landscape adhesive
  • concrete polyurethane sealant
  • 2x4s
  • paint
  • rail planters
Pea Gravel
Create a Base

I started by digging out a flat area 20'' wide by 3-5" deep. I spread paver base and pea gravel to level the area out.

Cinder Blocks

I used solid blocks that were 3 1/2" x 15 1/2" x 7 1/2". They only cost $1.09 each at Menards.

Stack the Blocks
Stack the Blocks

I stacked the blocks in a basic pattern, overlapping the edges in each corner except for where I hit the pole I referenced earlier.

Cut Cinder Blocks
Cut if Needed

Because of the two 4x4 poles I was building around, I had to cut a few of the blocks. I'd never done this before, and it was far easier than I imagined it would be. I just scored the block on all 4 sides and hit it with a mason chisel.

Stick Together
Stick Together

I used landscape adhesive between blocks to secure them. It's really easy to work with and, because it comes in a tube and you can use a calk gun, it's not messy at all.

DIY Planter

This is the planter, blocks fully stacked, from another angle, before any of the finishing work.


Once the planter was built, I caulked all the cracks with concrete polyurethane sealant. We wanted it to look as much like a solid concrete planter as possible.

Build the Rail
Build the Rail

I wanted the caulk to fully dry before painting. So, the next step was to build a rail that fit inside the planter to hold the plastic rail planters. I repurposed 2x4s that I had used to frame the old wood planter box we ripped out. These were previously sealed. As you can see, it's nothing pretty - just sturdy enough to get the job done.

Rail Planters

These are the rail planters I used inside the concrete planter. It was quite a bit more efficient (and cheap) to build a rail to mount these planters inside than it would have been to fill the entire large planter with dirt.


We painted the planter (and the front facing portion of the steps) black.

Painted Cinder Block Planter

Just like any wall, I did the edges with a brush and rolled the majority. The can of black concrete paint was $21 at Home Depot.

DIY Cinder Block Planter

Finished product!

Homemade Cinder Block Planter

I used leftover black spray paint to cover the edges of the plastic rail planters and built the rail so the plastic planters sit about an inch below the top of the concrete. It looks great, and they blend together well.

Easy DIY Cinder Block Planter

Even with the caulk and paint, you can still notice the cracks, but we're very pleased with the overall look. If you noticed... yes, those are fake plants. It's October in Minnesota, so I didn't want to put in real plants just to watch them die. That will have to wait until spring. Follow me on Instagram at  @woodyworking for more simple woodworking DIY or home improvement projects.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 32 questions
  • Asmik
    on Aug 10, 2020

    This looks absolutely beautiful and elegant. A quick question: do the plants 'breath' in these blocks? I had pavers laid in my front yard and tried to plant some small flowers in, but it did not work. Any tips? Thanks a lot!

    • Shirley Barnett
      Shirley Barnett
      on Aug 11, 2020

      I didn't think that he planted in the blocks, he used those plastic pots inside the blocks. They are used for plants.

  • Shuganne
    on Aug 10, 2020

    I absolutely LOVE how the black paint on the steps, and on the cement block planter really add the WOW factor to your home! As for the storm door and exterior door, my thought was that would be too much dark unless your visitors came on a sunny day. Is there a secondary color in your exterior design that you could tie in, or add? Mailbox? Shutters? Or just the exterior of the windows? It all depends on your taste, but I think an accent color would knock it out of the park.

    Now, this is mostly just a precautionary thought. I had an acquaintance who built a wind wall like yours at the front entrance. She also had tall evergreen bushes on the other side. The bad guys thought it was nifty cover while they kicked in her front door and made off with all her electronics. On a 4-lane state highway. In broad daylight. Just a thought.

    But finally, a standing o for the rails and entire project!!

  • Bama Amy
    Bama Amy
    7 days ago

    Chris, Your planter looks so neat + professional. I was wondering why you only used reclaimed wood on one side?

Join the conversation

4 of 263 comments
  • P
    on Mar 17, 2021

    Metal flashing between wood beams & concrete will prevent moisture wicking from concrete into wood & causing rot - not sure if you can slide metal flashing in between concrete& metal & attach w caulk or liquid nail at this point but anyone planning to copy your project should plan to use flashing

  • Royce
    on Mar 19, 2021

    What are the instructions for building the rail inside? I have 0 experience.

    • Hi Royce, I just used construction screws to attach the 2x4s to each other in the configuration pictured above. Sorry, I don't recall the exact measurements.

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