before and after

before & after: cinder block planter bar

by Kate Pruitt

I have a soft spot in my heart for cinder blocks — I consider them the closest thing to Legos for adults, and I get really excited when people use them in cool ways. I’ve seen many cinder block planters, which is understandable: The combination of gray cement and green herbs and succulents is lovely. Inspired by a cinder block planter project she saw on Apartment Therapy, Kristin decided to expand on the idea and incorporate more salvaged elements to create an outdoor bar. The mix of materials and colors is pretty and unexpected, and I love the idea that if you plant herbs in the blocks, you can simply reach down to add a sprig of something to your cocktails. Nicely done, Kristin! — Kate

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Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 2 days

Cost: under $50 (including all supplies and plants)

Basic Steps: First was creating the optimum layout to make a structurally sound base that would support the addition of the wood top. Once the layout was determined and glued, it was fairly easy to secure the hardware cloth, landscape cloth and plant as you would any other planter. The concrete blocks are standard from Home Depot, and the adhesive is SikaBond Professional Construction Adhesive.

My advice is to find an adhesive that works for you. I highly suggest a landscape adhesive if you decide to try a different brand. We tried multiple and only had success with the landscape adhesive. Ours is compact enough that with the addition of the adhesive, we did not need any additional internal support. If you decide to go wider or taller, I would definitely consider some rebar. — Kristin


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  • Brilliant! I can see a lot of people using this as a starting point for their backyard projects. Like me….

  • Love this idea, and am now considering something similar for our patio. However, we might be moving soon, so maybe I should wait. Looks a bit too heavy to move to a new place.

    Am I correct that the plants are in round planters which are held in place my wire mesh?

  • Oh my! I have an original screen door to my 1930 home in my basement with a moorish shaped top. It is gorgeous. that I’ve been thinking of turning into a piece of art, but… I believe I have just made a change in plans.

    So, so excited.

  • This is so awesome! I wanted to pin it so badly, but it said Pinterest couldn’t find any usable images :(

  • not kidding. i just clicked on to DS hoping to find some inspiration for a diy table to put next to my grill. forget inspiration, i’ll just copy this awesome example! thank you, DS!

  • Wow, this is terrific! So creative. And convenient, really, if you like to use herbs in your drinks… ;)

  • I love the thought of growing plants IN the table! I think I would do herbs so I could be outside eating and say… this needs a little basil and voila!

  • this is a great idea.. even better if the blocks are reclaimed.. they are not that expensive but you can often find them around building sites, as with wooden pallets which also make excellent planters, racks, window boxes etc..

  • Super cute, but unless that area is getting full sun for a few hours a day, some of those plants may not make it. Especially the ones directly under the bar. If that’s the case, you could replant with shade loving plants and repot the sun worshipers into another container with better sun. Still a great project, though!

  • The bottoms are filled with hardware cloth & landscape cloth. The dirt & plants are then placed on top.

    Leigh – All of the plants are thriving in their current location. The succulents get just enough sun & the trailers I planted prefer the shade anyways.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • I love this transformation! It combines some of my favorite elements: rough/crude pieces that most people undervalue or outright dislike (in this case, the concrete blocks), simple and elegant design that creates a beautiful space/thing with the aforementioned, undervalued pieces, and a clever twist that makes it wonderfully and ingeniously functional (the planters pockets, the succulents and the serving area on top). Love it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Kudos to Leigh’s remarks about the plants not getting enough sun to make it. For plant lovers, this looks like a carefully crafted method for imposing a slow death upon them.

    Reusing cinder blocks in an attractive way is the most useful aspect of this idea.

  • Quite pleased to see a project that is very affordable and beautiful for all levels of DIY’ers.
    What a wonderful finished product.

  • I’m so excited that You shared this. It’s exactly what I needed to see…I’ve been frustrated because my funds for projects have been so limited. This is perfectly creative yet, functional & affordable. Thank You.

  • Looks great! How high is this? Did you glue the wood on top as well? What did you use for the wood top? Thanks!

  • Please remember that if you change your mind after you have purchased your blocks, it is almost impossible to have the garbage person pick them up. I spent close to $200 to have about a dozen cinderblocks removed. After I took down a very small retaining wall, I decided to let the kids dig a big hole in the yard and we buried them. It was a very small wall.

  • I made this over the weekend and man what a tough project by yourself!(bring a friend). The succulents seem to be gaining popularity, the cheapest I could find were 4-5 bucks per plant. Also, I ended up threading wire up through the holes and around to hold the wire an plants in place–the first HUGE thunderstorm knocked two of them through the holes–just a thought.

    Looks great! Thanks for the idea!

  • I’m planning on making this, but I’m curious to know if it is very hard to move. Does the spot I build it need to be the permanent home?

  • Kristen, how did you secure the hardware cloth/landscape cloth? With adhesive? NEED TO COPY!

  • Began work on mine, just need to add the wood on top. I didn’t have it exactly where I want it to end up (close by, but need a little room to work, and a bit more level spot) – FYI it is very heavy. I mean I assumed, because it is concrete and all, but just make sure you have it close to it’s final resting place.

    Also, cutting the hardware cloth was my least favorite part! But I’m excited to finish it.

  • JASMINE: The Hardware cloth stuck by itself. If your square of cloth is larger enough it will grab on to the cinder block interior walls.

  • Love it Kristin! This is a great mix of fun color and rustic charm, and being a big fan of succulents, it is perfect for me. Just going to pin this gem in my dream farm as I want this to be a part of my forever home!

  • Great job, looks very appealing for a cool summer night !

    Could you give me your opinion about the block laying adhesive, I am thinking of using 123 Mortar that I think would work great?

    Thanks !!

  • Hi Kristin, This is adorable ! It’s so darn cute that I’m going to copy it as soon as we’re in our new home = ) I think the only thing i might change is i would paint the cinder blocks black. I love the vibrant green color of the plants against the black. Then all i need to do is find the perfect back drop, i mean door = ) I can’t wait to get started, thanks for inspiring me <3

  • I am a little unclear how you did the planting of the cinder blocks as well as the use of adhesive. Could you please clarify these steps? Thanks. This is adorable.

  • I’m a fairly new do it yourselfer. I love this project. Think it would be perfect for me.

  • Please share how you did the tinted glass, I need to do this in my art room. I love what you’ve done here, looks great! My dad owns a mason business, so I grew up around cinder block and bricks. Lol

    • I need a new potting bench in my backyard so hope to create one with the cinder blocks-thank you