Cinder Block Entryway Planter
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.
Tools and Materials
- pea gravel
- cinder blocks
- mason chisel
- landscape adhesive
- concrete polyurethane sealant
- rail planters
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.
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.
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.
Resources for this project:See all materials
Linda Ross on Aug 10, 2022
Very cleaver to use the rail planters. All that moist dirt with wood, even treated wood, is not a good thing. It looks great. If you want a seamless look, in the Spring, apply thin layers of concrete to the outside of the planter and smooth the finish. Kind of like stucco. That will make it appear as a poured planter.