Articles, Blog

How to Build a Cinder Block Garden Wall with Justin Kasulka

November 5, 2019

Hi, I’m Justin, a landscape designer who likes to
specialize in urban spaces. My goal is to show you that you can build
a garden anywhere. You might not think you have enough room for a garden, but even if you have just a wall and a little bit of room down at the bottom, I have a project that we can do today with some cinder blocks and plants. They can add some greenery to any urban space. Let’s get started. So I started a base here
with 5 cinder blocks at the bottom I’ll just add this last one here. You can turn these any which way you want. Cinder blocks are great because they’re modular and they fit
together really easily. I’m not gonna glue these together
because I’m not going very high. But if you want to go bigger you could easily get some landscape glue and caulk gun and make these as high as you want, and secure as you want. As I turn these blocks out this way, I’m making space for plants to go here, have space here, and then we’re going to keep going across. It’s nice to alternate the direction
of the blocks so that the one on top will hold together the
ones underneath. So these are nice and sturdy now. And my last block and I think we’re ready to get these ready for some soil. I have some wire mesh here, sometimes called hardware cloth, I’ve cut into just a cross shape, a little plus sign. And so you just fold these pieces up once we have that cross shape cut, and it makes a little basket. That’s to be the beginning of what is going to hold our soil in place. So once we start getting our wire mesh baskets
in place we can start thinking about what we’re
going to do to fill these up. So, you want to get a potting mix that’s going to be good for containers since we’re not planting anything in the ground. You can customize this with a moisture
control potting mix for vegetables and herbs, or you can get a succulent mix. if you just want to grow ornamental succulents. We don’t have to worry about these fitting
super tight in here because once we get our potting mix in here and our plants, it will fill them and press against sides
at the block to keep them in place. So now I’ve almost got all the baskets placed in here
to hold our potting mix I’m gonna add one more layer to make
sure it doesn’t leak out the bottom. I’ve taken some weed cloth and just cut it into some squares and am just going to set this down here in the bottom. so that the weed cloth lets water through but
it will keep the potting mix in place. We don’t worry about these being too
perfect because it’s going to be covered up at the end. Now that I’ve got the baskets and
the weed cloth cut and placed inside of here, I’m going to start thinking
about which plants something to put in here. So I can put the right potting mix in each
opening for the right plants. Since I’ve got this in a
sunny spot I picked plants that will do well in full Sun and
also plants that will take the heat because it’s pretty hot here in Austin. So I really love using succulents her
because they can do well in small containers spaces and you don’t have to water them quite as
often. I think I’ll start with the succulents here since these overhang they might dry out a
little bit faster than the other ones here the are
protected from the wing coming underneath. I like the softness of this Mexican
feather grass in contrast to the kind of hard lines and structure of the succulents. This is a great little euphorbia that does well
with less water too, and adds a little spot of sparkle with it’s
white flowers. We can also put some herbs in these small
spaces. Basil is one of the easier herbs to grow I think. It’s really easy to
use, you can put in some sandwiches, salads,
pesto, and it’s nice to have right at hand whenever you need it. Oregano is a nice herb too and since this is
a trailing one I’m going to put up one of the higher planters so that they can spill down over the edges, and that will be really attractive later. I think I need a little bit more color in here, I’ll add some flowers on the corners. This is another good one with a trailing habit so maybe I’ll swap this will over put it on the
corner so that it can hang over the edge here.
We will have all our herbs here in middle then. I think I’m everything in place. I like
the trailing plants on the corners up high, especially the oregano, and these other
flowers, and the grass for a little bit of height. I like the way they will move in the wind. And then the bright color the geranium on the side helps to pull it together so that we don’t get lost on the edges. And the succulents
will look good against the background of the blocks here in the
front. So I’ve got my two potting mixes, one’s the regular moisture control Miracle-Gro and the other one is
specialized for succulents. I’m just going to get a small amount started in here so that we can see how much will need to
hold for the roots of these plants. So I think I have enough potting mix
in this one we’ll go ahead and plant this. Just tease the roots out a little bit,
that will get it ready to fill the space that is going to
have now. We’ll top off with a little bit more potting mix. You may find that the first time in water
these in, you might need a little bit more potting mix because it might settle a
little bit, and that’s normal. I’ll go ahead and jump over here to one of the succulents. So, this potting mix is specializes for succulents and other plants
that need good drainage. It has a little bit more sand and added to it
so it doesn’t hold too much water for the plants. Another nice thing about succulents is since they are
slow-growing you can even add more than one into a small space. Just get some small ones, start them off and
pack them in here for a really nice miniature arrangement inside your garden. So we have this all finished up and it goes to show you that you can as a life to any small urban space. We’ll be back again with some more
projects and other challenging spaces. Until then, get out there and get
gardening. I’m gonna finish this one up. We are making magic happen here.


  • Reply craigsellingmine August 12, 2014 at 10:47 pm


  • Reply Carrie Hart December 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you for the tutorial. I love these little planters. Do you have any other design ideas?

  • Reply ki li April 26, 2015 at 1:48 am

    its too ugly its not pretty enough its such a waste of block for suck tiny little plants 🙁

  • Reply spikedpsycho May 7, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Los Angeles style.

  • Reply Marlina66 June 18, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    I needed a finishing touch to my front yard garden design and this is it! YAY!!! Thank you!

  • Reply goltoof October 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I'd avoid the hardware cloth and go for something non-metallic. Less metal used around soil the better, imho.

  • Reply King Kano World Media October 19, 2015 at 12:19 am

    In your case, you chose good plants for cinder-block grow pots, however, I prefer more acid loving plants, and the concrete of the cider-blocks will leach out into the soil and kill the plants…I think I will do this, and taller, with mortar and paint the inside with asphalt emulsion to lock out the cement from the plant soil

  • Reply aswee01 January 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    this is a good idea but doesn't necessarily constitute urban as most people who dwell in urban areas don't have access to open space or backyards, but some do so for them OK however another concern and major one and a concern of urban agriculture is the leeching of chemicals from cinder blocks which are made of concrete and cinder or coal ash. anyone who understands urban gardening/agriculture knows that's the major or a major concern of the would from which cinder block once stood and other chemical leeching into the soil things. I

    I don't want to take away from the project as it is a start of a very good idea, in the context of gardening and leeching prevention of such should be considered.

  • Reply IAmVeruca February 25, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    if you don't have landscape glue you can use zip ties

  • Reply Debra McHenry March 18, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Is it safe to grow herbs and food plants in cinderblock? what about flyash?

  • Reply Angel Euan April 21, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    i love the idea but all the comments stop me to do it 🙁

  • Reply Davart April 27, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    1.) Cinder blocks especially new are rather toxic to plants,
    2.) Metal is not much better.
    3.) With the open bottoms they will dry out quickly and die unless you really stay on top of watering which few people do.
    4.) It's rather ugly.
    5.) Honestly, do you know anything about plants?

  • Reply Annette P June 8, 2016 at 1:09 am

    l would like this for my self

  • Reply Anushka Sood June 16, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    m frm India n its too hot here so plz let me know wat type of plants to grow n how to look aftr dem.plzzz..i love gardening n flowers bt dont know the know how.

  • Reply Anushka Sood June 19, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    thank you

  • Reply Val Arie August 9, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Good job!

  • Reply serial iluminacion August 28, 2016 at 1:31 am

    hello, can you tell me what is the name of the cloth that you put in the block?

  • Reply Callaham Sepe November 20, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Great to see that… I made it too. Using woodprix handbooks 🙂

  • Reply Nancee Birdlover December 31, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Awesome, thanks! That's just what I was looking for.

  • Reply Romana Angersbach April 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    so i made it too . just by using Woodprix woodworking plans 🙂

  • Reply Melissa Watchorn May 22, 2017 at 5:27 am

    I'm looking to do this, but I'm in a rental and the only space I really have would be a concrete slab. What can I do to this arrangement to avoid mold or rot underneath?

  • Reply Blinkit Photography May 23, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    When watering it daily, or everyone other day depending on the plant you use. Does the cinder block start to crack since the inside part where you put the soil and water it are not water sealed?

  • Reply Farrah Rivera September 2, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    what is the measurement of the wire mesh cross?

  • Reply Kala Samaroo June 8, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    The blocks are so beautiful

  • Reply Irma Hersel July 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    I am inspired to start working on my front yard, I have a small space this will work for me, thank you! I will more than likely add a few designs on the blocks. Cheers from the west coast.

  • Reply monty fresh August 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

    dam that is not pretty at all

  • Reply Matthew Cooper September 15, 2018 at 5:21 am


  • Reply dale kroll September 28, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    What a great idea

  • Reply Bazil J. Toy Loy October 11, 2018 at 1:42 am

    What do you call those patterned blocks on the back white wall?

  • Reply Jennifer Clark October 14, 2018 at 3:05 am


  • Reply Robert Johnson October 31, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Thank you. I got some cool ideas to make a garden wall and lounge idea.

  • Reply Petra Gutierrez November 6, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    What are the names of the plants?

  • Reply Linda Johnson January 26, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Great idea Justin. Thank you

  • Reply Ana L February 25, 2019 at 2:20 am


  • Reply B Barron March 3, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Exactly what I was needing. You could probably paint the inside of the blocks with a Nontoxic waterproof latex perhaps?? OR Perhaps using plant felt (like a plant hammock) they do it for inside garden walls, then utilizing a few of pieces of metal to hang on the outside of the planter: like his wire mesh shape, then folding and zip tying/glueing the metal into the felt so you don't lose soil. Seen the Nontoxic waterproof deal done for a dog pond on another video. Well, I'm gonna give it a whirl. I'm too innovative not to try it. Will keep anyone posted that's interested.

  • Reply Al Dunlop March 10, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Sorry but I think cinder blocks look like crap

  • Reply Hamas Saleh Mgeni April 11, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Ilove and I wil to my house

  • Reply فصبر جميل ٢ August 1, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Hello I am Algerian and I love your work.

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