DIY: Cinderblock Raised Garden

DIY: Cinderblock Raised Garden

You should really watch this video about NC A&T’s Tomato Festival first.

Crunchers, do you want tomatoes grown at home, better than the ones from the store like in this video? Have you built a raised bed to try to achieve that result? How did you decide on which type to make? Plank? Railroad ties? Cedar? Cinderblock? These were questions my husband and I had to answer after the seed starting when we got to the point of planting seedlings.

We looked into all of the options we could think of. Recently, my MIL made one from planks for her flowers, but we struggled finding what we wanted that hadn’t been treated. The concern is that chemicals will leach into the ground and then your veggies.

A worry about railroad ties and other forms of wood is the rot factor. We weren’t sure how long the untreated wood would last before needing to be replaced. I am all for spending more upfront and NOT having to replace things.

That led us to cedar because it won’t ever rot. Have you checked out the cost of cedar???? It would have cost us over $200 to make what we wanted! Nope, no way, not going to happen.

I had seen cinderblock gardens on Pinterest, but for some reason, figured my husband wouldn’t go for it. Then he found it on his own and we were both stoked to find what seemed like a perfect alternative!

Last year’s garden was an 8′ x 4′ rectangle. It worked for our trial year but we knew we needed more space. At some point I decided I really wanted an L shape that I could reach into any part of from the outside. The 4′ width last year seemed perfect and we based everything else around that. The inside perimeter of our blocks measures 12′ on the long sides, 8′ on the medium sides, and 4′ on the small sides, so 12′ – 4′ – 8′ – 8′ – 4′ – 12′.


PRO: This took 39 blocks to make (around $60 for all of them). The key was to keep 90 degree angles and a flat surface. For some of the blocks, my husband had to scrape/dig/pound the ground to get it right; however, (PRO) this was a half day project from picking up the blocks to getting them placed in their new home. We have not had to do any maintenance on the blocks since setting them.

CON (?Depending on how much dirt you want to purchase?): We needed two truck beds full of dirt to fill it in, but we filled the holes in as well.

We decided to get blocks with holes instead of full blocks because it created more space for more plants. This year, we decided marigolds every other block. PRO: This was a great idea because marigolds keep buggy pests away! We were brilliant!

CON: Until our marigolds grew 4′ tall and were fighting the tomato plants for king of the jungle…or garden, whatever you want to call it. I supposed the 4′ marigolds may not be a result of the cinderblocks.


This is our garden at the end of July from the same spot I took the original picture, just not quite as zoomed in. You can see the marigolds on the outside actually keep you from seeing inside the garden. They’ve been pruned twice as well as knocked away from the garden. They continue to grow.

PRO: The cinderblocks help retain some moisture in the soil throughout the extremely hot days of the summer.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with this bed. Next year we’re going to expand it some more, and only use marigolds on the back holes while planting herbs and strawberries in the front.

What is coming out of your garden now Crunchers?

Pruned marigolds. Hopefully there will be an onslaught of marigolds mysteriously take over the easement past my fence next year!

Pruned marigolds. Hopefully there will be an onslaught of marigolds mysteriously take over the easement past my fence next year!


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