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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Finished product!

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.

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 17 questions
  • Sharon Wright
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Painting the edge of the steps really brought it all together. Looks great.

  • Valerie
    on Nov 8, 2019

    Could you build 2 steps this way? My steps are falling apart, cement, & I don’t know how to fix them

    • Lynn
      on Nov 8, 2019

      I built 2 steps using blocks for foundation walls and then put 2x8 boards on top. That gave each step an overhang for footing

  • Marilyn Cunningham
    on Nov 12, 2019

    I bought an older house and my bedroom is the only room that has 1970's paneling that has the vertical lines in it what can I do to cover the lines I really want to paint the room to

    • Regina
      on Nov 19, 2019

      The first time I just primed then painted over my paneling then in the groves I pin striped it with another color then when I got tired of that I filled the groves in with caulk that you can paint over and then just painted it and no one ever knew it was paneling unless I told them lasted for years

Join the conversation

2 of 165 comments
  • Abby Reyes
    on Nov 10, 2019


  • Debi53
    on Nov 12, 2019

    This is a really great project. It makes such a difference to your entry. I love the greenery. It adds wonderful color to what I am sure are some dreary winter days.

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