Cinder Block Entryway Planter

6 Materials
$80
3 Days
Easy

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

Create a Base

Pea Gravel

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 if Needed

Cut Cinder Blocks

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.

Caulk

Caulk

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.

Paint

Paint

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?

31 questions
  • Francine Musson
    on Oct 31, 2019

    Just a comment. I would probably paint the storm door black to match the planter and front steps?

    • I love where your head is at! We have quite a few additional ideas we're hoping to do to finish the look. We were thinking of painting the solid door instead of the storm door, but now you have me thinking!

    • Kristin lisor-kern
      on Oct 31, 2019

      I painted my storm doors and garage door a dark gray. It’s been over a year and all painted areas look great!

      Nice job on your planter! Being from the Minneapolis area, I sympathized/chuckled with your choice of plants

  • Linda
    on Oct 31, 2019

    Why did you use the rail planters instead of just planting in your box? It looks like you filled the box with dirt around them. I am not being critical but trying to understand. The job you did looks great!

    • Amanda
      on Oct 31, 2019

      He already explained that he built the rail because it was more efficient and cheaper than filling the entire planter with dirt.


      I've used an alternative when planting in our ginormous pots on our front porch. I fill the bottom of the pots with disposable plastic water bottles and empty milk jugs and then put soil to the top. It makes them much lighter, provides good drainage, and I don't use as much soil, either.

    • Hi Linda, good question! I used the rail planters because of the amount of dirt it would have taken to fill the entire box. I'd previously built a wood planter like this, and it took a LOT of dirt to fill it all up. I built this one so the planters fit snugly into the box. There is no dirt in the box itself. The planters are just also black and run right up to the edge of the block.

    • Shirley
      on Oct 31, 2019

      I have used crushed aluminum cans and styrofoam peanuts to fill space in the bottom of large containers. Most potted plants won't grow roots clear to the bottom, so it's wasted potting mix.

    • Linda
      on Oct 31, 2019

      Thank you Chris. In the picture it looked like there was dirt. I realize that to fill the entire planter it would have taken a great deal of dirt. I just thought there was dirt in planter so didn’t understand why the plants weren’t put directly into the dirt. Got it now.

    • That is super creative! I might have to use that method in the future!

  • Lailoni Muscaro
    on Oct 31, 2019

    It's beautiful and has inspired me to do a similar project for the sides of my porch. I do have a question, when using real plants, will the water damage the wood rail inside or should I cover the wooden rail with plastic before placing my planters inside? I am thinking of taking out the planters to water but even if I let them drain, there will still be some moisture inside them which could potentially damage the rail. Any suggestions/tips?

    • Karen
      on Oct 31, 2019

      As long as there is drainage in the concrete box itself you shouldn't have a problem. You can use a PVC square (sometimes it has to be a fence rail as square PVC is hard to find) if you are worried about rot.

    • Luna
      on Oct 31, 2019

      Don't use a wooden rail. You can use plastic bottles, soda cans or any sort of debris to half fill the holes, fill to top with dirt or put the vases on top of that. Less work, less worries and a way to use unwanted stuff.

    • I sealed the wooden rail so it will be good for a while, but we may have issues over time. The bottles is a great alternative. The concrete box has no "bottom" so any drainage water should be absorbed into the sand/soil.

    • Terri
      on Oct 31, 2019

      We made similar planters on either side of our wood deck steps. We covered the exterior with paver blocks to match a wall we have built. The inside wall of the cinder blocks we covered with 1” board insulation, then filled the interior with old broken concrete, rocks, bottles, and foam we had left over from shipments. We then put a paver board with small holes for drainage over everything, and put dirt over that. If we ever have to remove the dirt, it won’t get mixed in with all of the filler. Great idea for fake plants over winter. I use evergreen branches and tree branches in mine. I love that it’s Halloween and we have snow!

  • Donna
    on Oct 31, 2019

    Nice job. And why no use fake plants in the planter when you can't have live? I knew a lady that had a beautiful flower bed; all fake flowers. When the sun faded the flowers, she just replaced them.

    • Happy Days Hometalker
      on Oct 31, 2019

      Hi Donna, I do the same thing your friend does, I like easy and fast, it fits the bill.

    • Karen
      on Oct 31, 2019

      There are plenty of evergreens that should last the winter and would add some height and privacy. You may have to use the concrete planter by filling as suggested above with peanuts or plastic or such in order to have more root system for the bigger plants and in the spring add draping plants to cascade over the concrete which in turn would hide cracks.

    • Hi Karen! Have you planted evergreens in a planter or box before? We thought about trying this, but my fear was that without the ground insulation, the roots would freeze in the winter months and they would die. I had a similar wood planter last year and the grasses I planted never came back in spring. I was told it was because the planter doesn't insulate the roots enough from the cold, but I'd love to switch this box to evergreens if possible!

    • Dee Simmons
      on Nov 1, 2019

      i have had evergreens planted in pots for several years now and have had no problems with them at all. I do mulch leaves in fall and put in the containers to insulate them a little plus it provides nutition for them. Just need to make sure you add fertilzer to your container each growing season in your area. I live in PA so I do get freezing temps in the winter. You may have to freshen your soil every few years.

  • Audrey
    on Oct 31, 2019

    I’m going to do the same thing & my concrete steps are the same as in your picture , so how many cinderblocks would I need to make the planter ? Audrey

    • I ended up using about 50

    • Audrey
      on Oct 31, 2019

      It doesn’t look like that many blocks ? but the end results looks great . I’m starting mine tomorrow but have to seal & paint the steps & sides first , I hope mine comes out as nice as yours !

    • Flipturn
      on Dec 26, 2019

      Yes, this it is often the case when building a structure made up of individual pieces, that there are far more needed that it would originally look like. See in mind also that many of the whole pieces he used needed to be cut to size to fit, so in the end, it wasn't the whole original sized piece that was used.

  • MaryAnn
    on Oct 31, 2019

    Nice job and the steps cleaned up beautifully too. What kind of sun exposure do you get in that corner. I don't know where you are in MN, but here in Boston contractors landscape bushes in planters often. But! Our lowest Winter Temps Are 0 to -10 +/- 5 degrees in weird winters. That's only short term, a few days. Back home temps could dip to -20 for weeks, I've never seen boxed shrubs or trees in parking lots there. I would suggest taking your pictures and visiting a local nursery. These next 2-3 weeks before the Christmas Trees go on sale, you should find somebody with some free time, to talk. The planter boxes you used are fair sized, if that corner is protected and Sunny, there should be some options. Make certain they can see that specialty bush next to the box. You want something that will blend with. A hanging basket on the porch pole would be pretty. Great idea, very nicely done. No one will notice it's not solid concrete unless you tell them. Most, even if they did notice, wouldn’t think twice about it.It looks great!

    • Marlean
      on Nov 7, 2019

      I would plant hostas since they look great everywhere and can grow in partial to full sunlight

  • Susan Williams
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Just want to say you did a great job. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lori O'Neil
    on Nov 7, 2019

    This looks amazing. I have a brick planter already and now I think we will just paint it. Love it

  • Bonnie
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Love it! But how did you make the railing on the right side of the stairs?

  • Tammy
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Did you paint the planter boxes black?

    • Carol Painter
      on Nov 7, 2019

      The article said he painted the top edges so they would blend in.

    • Joe Jones
      on Nov 7, 2019

      All you have to do is read one paragraph and you answer your own questions.


      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

  • Kathy Schoof
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Beautiful!!!

  • Cathy
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Looks great. Best of all you got full bragging rights. Great job.

  • Leslie Weaver Huntsman
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Great job! Also great job with instructions and pics. I like the lines on the planter. It pulls in the wooden wind-wall you built. The texture of the straight lines keeps the look/flow going. BTW- I was admiring the plants! From the pic I didn’t realize they were faux! Lol

    I do have a question; I know you painted the front face of the steps, but what did you do to the top? They look darker.

    • Hi! I used a concrete texture paint for the tops of the steps. Its dark grey and has some stone or "grit" built into it to give a bit more traction. I'd never used it before. It's very thick and doesn't brush or roll on in the normal way. In fact, we ran out since it doesn't go far and will need to add another coat in spring.

  • Joe Jones
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Did HomeTalk editors quit reading the article before naming it? It says cinder block and he didn’t touch a cinder block.

    • Kathy
      on Nov 7, 2019

      Those were cinder blocks in the solid form as opposed to the square with cut-outs.

    • Joe Jones
      on Nov 8, 2019

      Kathy no they aren’t Cinder blocks are 8”x 4”x16” these are 7 1/2” x 3 1/2”x 15 1/2” they are pavers the cost $1.09 and a cinder block is about $.40 More than that. These are a paver option and a true cinder block is 8 x 8 x 16” and has two holes in it. Everything else is a concrete block. What he built is probably going to end up being as good but they use BS lines to get you to click it and the blocks are a small snap shot of this job. They have started lying to get you to click their pages it’s all about advertising and I started using this site because it wasn’t like that

    • Stephanie
      on Nov 8, 2019

      But by the way, as far as this story/design goes, the owner and designer himself calls the pavers solid cinder blocks. So in this case the site may not be fully at faultm. However, that misuse of words is acceptable for a non-construction expert but is not ok for a site that knows better.

    • Keri
      on Nov 8, 2019

      It states that he uses them.

    • Ada
      on Nov 11, 2019

      Yes he did. He placed most on their sides.

  • 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

    • KEN MEIER
      on Nov 8, 2019

      WITH OUT REMOVE THE STEP, YOU CAN SIMPLE COVER STEPS WITH 2X6 OR 2X8 WOOD OR USE COMPOSITE DECK BOARDS. BOARD CAN BE FASTENED IN PLACE WITH CONSTRUCTION ADHESIVE AND TAPCONS.

    • 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

    • Chargemouse
      on Nov 17, 2019

      Go to your local home improvement store and explain your problem. I have seen a product which is put on over paneling which makes a solid surface to paint over. This is not a paint-like product, it's a roll or full-sheet. Good luck with your project. We just painted over our paneling in our family room and it looked great for years. We hardly noticed the vertical lines and it greatly updated the room.

    • 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

    • Christina Wileman
      on Jan 19, 2020

      Fill in with wood puddy. Let dry then paint. Not 100% sure but it sounds 99.99% worth a try to me.

    • Renetta
      on Jan 19, 2020

      We painted our living room with White paint. We don't even notice the lines. Also you can get your paint with primer already in it. Good luck with your project


    • Leigh Bunches McGuinty
      on Jan 19, 2020

      What I did was paint it with kilz, then white for a ahiplap look.

    • Patricia Cook
      on Jan 20, 2020

      I took sheetrock mud and filled in all the cracks. Had to do twice since it shrunk when dried. I then souped up the sheetrock mud in a bucket and blooped it on here and there and then knocked it down. When I was satisfied w the look, i painted it. No one could tell that wasn't sheetrock

    • Linda Yocham Patrick
      on Jan 20, 2020

      My best friend and her husband just painted over the paneling when they bought their house. It's a beautiful soft green shade and you really don't notice the lines. Don't be afraid to just try it. Pick your favorite color and go for it!

    • Marva
      on Jan 21, 2020

      We had a 35ft.hallway that had seamed paneling.

      I wanted to paint the walls 2 differant colors.

      My husband spackled and sanded the seams smooth and after useing paint with primer,I put up a boarder print to cover the seperation line of the two colors.

      It turned out great!!!

      Hope this helps!!!

  • Michelle
    on Jan 20, 2020

    Such a great job . Thank you for sharing

  • Susan Doxtater
    on Feb 16, 2020

    This is outstanding. Could we see the whole porch in one picture . We love what you did with the post and rail. Please if possible can we see it all . You inspired us ♥️

  • Lisa
    on Feb 16, 2020

    How did you secure the rails? Thank you.

  • Alexander Breaux
    on May 15, 2020

    How well does this hold up over time? I’ve heard from some people that I’d need to do some basing to make sure the ground doesn’t shift and cause cracking down the road.

    • Hi Alexander! We've been through a winter with it now, and it held up well. We did put down gravel and sand and tamped down the ground before starting with the blocks.

  • Terri
    on Aug 3, 2020

    I don’t have any questions. I just wanted to tell you that looks Super Amazing!

  • Coffee bean
    on Aug 3, 2020

    I like how you painted the risers on the steps to match. It looks good, very sharp. And it is helpful in seeing the steps.

  • Sue Kujawa
    on Aug 3, 2020

    Very nice!!! Why didn't you paint the 2x4's?

    • Lynn F Jordan
      on Aug 3, 2020

      you need an accent to break up planter from the rest of the porch and steps

    • B J
      on Aug 3, 2020

      Matches the wood on the other side of the porch.

    • Rhonie
      on Aug 3, 2020

      Creative choice

    • Hi Sue! I'm thinking you might mean those 4x4s that are extending up from the planter and holding up the awning. And, it's funny you should ask. We've been back on forth on whether to leave the cedar look to match the slat wall on the other side or painting them black or adding black metal trim. We still may change them at some point, but just haven't been able to decide!

    • Sandy
      on Aug 3, 2020

      I agree with Sue Kujawa, but I'd take it a step farther. Paint the 2x4s AND the wood wall opposite the planter the same color as the house for a more pleasing, cohesive look. This is a very cut-up look and is very jarring to my eye. It's a small area, so have just one focal point: the black planter and the matching risers. That being said, I love the planter; a very creative use of cinder blocks. Not every space needs an accent. A good rule to keep in mind is "less is more."

    • Jan
      on Aug 3, 2020

      Awesome job!


    • Terry
      on Aug 3, 2020

      I believe it needs the natural wood to not make the entryway look like a black hole. It isn't 'jarring' whatsoever. Each DIY'r has their own take on a creative venture and I think as it is turned out great.

    • Mary
      on Aug 3, 2020

      Love the way you used the blocks very creative.. made me think outside the box for my rail planters. Thanks for sharing

    • Lanita Henricksen
      on Aug 3, 2020

      i think the wood side and the 2 x 4s look great with the black. If the wood side and 2 x 4s are painted black, personally I think it would all be too much black!

    • Vance Terry
      on Aug 3, 2020

      The 4X4s add warmth. I never see wood as distraction. Every space should have some natural material.

  • Janae
    on Aug 3, 2020

    Looks nice! Super job.

    everything looks so much more cohesive.

    just a tip, anytime you have a large planter you don’t want to fill with dirt, put used, capped, plastic bottles in it. Then put the dirt on top of that. Takes up the space you don’t want to fill with dirt, helps with drainage, and recycles those plastic bottles.


    • Ruth Shapiro
      on Aug 3, 2020

      Only works if the planter has a bottom or is on dirt. Otherwise, the dirt will seep out.

    • Kwjalien
      on Aug 3, 2020

      love it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I like to use the big chunks of styrofoam that are used for packaging too!

    • Thanks, Janae! I've heard that from others as well. It never even occurred to me during the build. It's great to have options!

    • Doris Emily
      on Aug 3, 2020

      The planter looks very nice. Good job! yes plastic bottles etc can be fillers and create water drainage areas for your plants.

    • Clo9235263
      on Aug 3, 2020

    • Shelli Bender
      on Aug 4, 2020

      If you put old pieces of wood, branches and such in bottom of planter, it will give the plants a mulch to grow off for years to come!

    • Shelli Bender
      on Aug 4, 2020

      Oops, finger hit enter! *laughs* GREAT job! I love it! Makes me want to do that around this old house, just gotta consider snow...

  • Denise
    on Aug 4, 2020

    can you come over an help me with mine


  • Chris Ann
    on Aug 5, 2020

    Just a comment. Sweet!

  • Mary
    on Aug 6, 2020

    Did u water down the cement blocks first so the paint didn't assorb all your paint.

    How much paint did u use.

    Great Job, looks awesome.

    • Hi Mary, I didn't actually water down the blocks. They weren't as porous as I thought they might be. I bought a gallon of paint designed for use on cement/concrete and had quite a bit left over after two coats.

  • Karen
    on Aug 8, 2020

    What can I put at the corner of my front lawn were tire tracks ruined it.

  • 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
      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!!

Join the conversation

2 of 259 comments
  • Carol. Stowe.
    on Aug 8, 2020

    Have. Done. This. With. Both. Blocks. And. Bricks. From. Where. A. Chimney. Had. Fell. Looked. Neat. And. Worked. Really. Well

  • Sashea
    on Sep 14, 2020

    Love it!!!

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