Cinderfella’s Vertical Garden Planter

July 15, 2011 by

Zac Benson’s got a bad succulent collecting habit. The San Diego-based photographer says his girlfriend, who shares his love of  these “fat plants,” would for Valentine’s Day “way rather have nice a Kalanchoe Beharensis a.k.a. Felt Plant” than a dozen roses.

A Home for Succulents
To find a way to show off the ever growing collection of succulents taking over his front and backyard, Benson built a cinder block planter wall to contain them. Since he’d seen cinder blocks used as planters, he thought with a little glue (block adhesive) he’d go vertical to house as many succulent as possible.

Cinder blocks appealed to Benson because they are inexpensive (total cost was under $60) and simple to make. He also loved the great modern feel of the cinder block’s simple square lines.

Don’t Forget the Drainage
After a few trips to Home Depot for the blocks, he stacked them without using any glue–but just played with the blocks until he found the perfect shape. After a few variations, Benson settled on the final layout pictured here. “I carefully took it apart and glued metal screens to the bottom of the blocks that would be holding dirt,” the photographer explained. “Once the screens had bonded to the blocks I started to rebuild the wall, gluing all the blocks together.”

Variations on the Idea
In small spaces, it’s always great to give an piece dual functionality. Benson placed his cinder block garden by a fence, but consider using yours as a privacy screen to block out from view those overly friendly neighbors. You might want to use the block wall planter as a space divider–separating even a small dining area from a lounging area. By using the solid sides of the blocks, you could extend some of them to create a ledge that functions as a table, giving yourself extra serving area when entertaining. The same concept can be extended to create additional seating: build out the blocks in one area of the wall to create a seat, then place an inexpensive loveseat or bench cushion on top.

Photos by Zac Benson

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  • Annie Haven | Authentic Haven Brand

    Love the creative use of Cinder Block for a Vertical Garden great share

  • DanEastSide

    That is amazing that I came across this blog. I have a pile of cinder blocks in my backyard from when they raised my wall. Wasn’t sure what to do with them until now :)

    Great idea, thanks.

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  • Suzy

    We too have large a collection of gorgeous succulents which always look a bit scrubby in lots of pots so I will definitely use some Cinder blocks we have lying around.

  • Divya Tomar

    Zack, that is so super. I am from India, and we are graduating to a apartment community really fast. Do you think hollow styrofoam bricks would also work – and for other plants too?

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  • Mary Fisler

    I am so very glad that I found this article. I have been looking for an inexpensive way to make a garden with very little space. This Article gave me ideas that I never would have thought of on my own.

  • Greenamic

    Great idea in using those building materials!

  • Lorraine

    What a great idea if someone doesn’t have much of a budget! It’s so stylish and colorful, too.

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  • paulvs

    Great but have you seen the dutch invention;
    EdibleWall or Eetbare Wand. An complete vertical system with intergrated micro drip irrigation system.
    Easy to use and easy to order.

  • Robin Plaskoff Horton

    No, I haven’t seen these, but thank you for bringing them to my attention.

  • tui xach thoi trang

    The cool new Living Wall Planter lets you grow plants, flowers or fresh herbs vertically in your kitchen, entryway, balcony, deck or anywhere space is tight and receives direct sunlight. This unique indoor/outdoor planter features a solid cedar frame, two vertical planting panels – each panel accommodates 22 quarts of soil so there are 90 total planting cells, a built in water reservoir tray and a water collection tray. It truly is a living, oxygenating work of art.

  • Noreen

    Me and my husband fell in love with this idea! We just bought a home late last year and were looking into vertical type planters and your idea is perfect!! If you don’t mind sharing, what exactly is a metal screen and what type of bonding agent did you use to adhere the concrete and metal?

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  • Marti Stupka

    I have a serious succulent “habit.” I can’t help myself. I love new suggestions of ways to display my plants. I live in Southwest Florida and the monsoon season has proved to be challenging with me moving all succulents so they don’t get too much water, but at the same time trying to maintain the light requirements. Was thrilled to find this article and other sites that have given me some ideas. Thanks to all.

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  • anthony

    My wife called me at work, when she found this post. What a simple but effective way to make a planter. She plans to use cinder block to put horsetail out front of her skin center. Thank you for the wonderful and inexpensive idea.

  • scott

    cool idea, should spray it with some concrete stain & sealer…and try to grout in the joints. Maybe hit the joints with a 4″ grinder w/ diamond wheel to make a small reveal for the grout to stick in

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  • Heather_7

    is wondering what type of glue was used to adhere the screens to the bottom of the cement?


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  • Graham

    Doesn’t look safe for high seismic regions without being mortared in place, and metal rods down the middle.

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