How to Build a Cinder Block Raised Bed for Your Vegetable Garden

The spot had never been gardened before and was covered in weedy grass. My hard-working husband tilled and raked and tilled and raked until the area was clear. We tried to work the soil a bit, but it was clear right away that it would take a lot of work to even half-way decent the heavy clay soil.

If we wanted to garden any time soon, we would need another option. Many thoughts were given, but the best choice was to build raised beds and fill them with healthy soil.

Before, we built raised beds with wooden frames, which worked fine. But wood gets old, and we wanted to make something that would last a very long time.

So we chose concrete blocks. They can break if they’re dropped hard or hit by heavy machinery, but overall, they’re very strong, and most of them will probably last longer than us. .

Since the blocks are about 8 inches by 8 inches by 16 inches, you can move them around to make beds wherever and however you want (no special tools needed). It’s certainly hard work. Putting together the garden you want is possible with the blocks, even though they are heavy and you have to move the dirt around.

If you live somewhere that freezes really hard in the winter, you will probably have some frost heave. (The soil pushes up during freezing conditions. ) What that means practically is that you will have to adjust a few bricks come spring. With a hand shovel, move the brick back into place by rolling it over and adding or removing soil.

Raised garden beds provide many benefits over traditional in-ground gardening. They allow you to control the soil quality, provide proper drainage, reduce weed and pest pressure, and make gardening more accessible. Using cinder blocks is an inexpensive yet durable material option for constructing beautiful raised beds to grow your vegetables.

Benefits of Cinder Block Raised Beds

Here are some of the top advantages of using cinder blocks for raised vegetable garden beds

  • Cinder blocks are very affordable and widely available

  • They are heavier than wood or plastic raised beds providing stability.

  • Cinder blocks won’t rot, split, or decay like wood over time.

  • The open blocks allow for more planting space and drainage.

  • Beds can be dismantled and blocks reused or reconfigured in the future.

  • Blocks can create beds of any length, width or height to suit your needs.

  • Raised height reduces back strain for planting, weeding and harvesting.

  • Provides better drainage and allows you to customize the soil mix.

  • Keeps plant roots separated from underground pests.

Planning Your Cinder Block Garden Bed

When planning your cinder block raised bed, here are some things to consider:

  • Size and layout based on your available space. Measure the area and sketch plans.

  • How many blocks are needed? Standard blocks are usually 8″ x 8″ x 16″.

  • Will you double stack the blocks for deeper beds? This provides more soil volume.

  • Leave a center aisle at least 18-24 inches wide for access on all sides.

  • Orient the long side of rectangular beds north to south for optimal sun exposure.

  • Group taller plants on the north side to avoid shading shorter plants.

Tips for Building Your Cinder Block Frame

Follow these steps to construct your raised bed cinder block frame:

  • Level and clear the bed site of grass, rocks and debris.

  • Arrange blocks without mortar in your planned shape and layout.

  • Tap blocks gently with a rubber mallet to stabilize and level their position.

  • Use a string to align blocks and a level to verify they sit evenly.

  • For larger beds, double stack blocks where desired for more depth.

  • Fill open block holes with extra soil for additional planting space.

  • Line inside of bed with landscape fabric to block weeds if desired.

  • Fill bed with high quality planting mix amended with compost.

Maximizing Planting Space

Look for ways to maximize the planting potential in your cinder block raised bed:

  • Use the open block holes to plant herbs, flowers or trailing veggies.

  • Include vertical supports for climbing plants like peas or beans.

  • Install cages or trellises for vertically growing tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

  • Use compact or bush vegetable varieties suitable for closer spacing.

  • Stagger rows to optimize air circulation and sun exposure.

  • Plant taller crops like tomatoes on the north side to avoid shading.

  • Include colorful edible flowers like nasturtiums that also attract pollinators.

Maintaining Your Cinder Block Garden Bed

Proper maintenance will keep your raised bed looking great and growing strong:

  • control through hand pulling, mulching and pre-emergent barrier if needed.

  • Replenish soil nutrients each season by mixing in 2-4 inches of compost.

  • Top dress surrounding grass with mulch or small rocks to keep a clean border.

  • Level any blocks heaved by freeze-thaw cycles using a hand trowel and shims.

  • Repair blocks cracked from heavy impact by replacing or rotating with spares.

  • Reconfigure blocks into new shapes or sizes as desired in future years.

Tips for Growing Vegetables in Raised Beds

Follow these tips to successfully grow veggies in your cinder block raised bed:

  • Amend soil with compost and organic fertilizer before planting.

  • Use quality seeds and transplants suited to your climate and season.

  • Follow seed packet spacing guidelines to avoid overcrowding plants.

  • Use grid patterns and succession planting to maximize production.

  • Consistently water 1-2 inches per week, adjusting for rainfall.

  • Use fabric row covers to protect plants from pests when needed.

  • Weed and mulch beds frequently to prevent competition for nutrients.

  • Rotate vegetable crop families each year to prevent soil-borne diseases.

Ideal Veggies for Raised Bed Gardening

Here are some of the best vegetables ideally suited for raised bed growing:

  • Salad greens – Lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, etc.

  • Root crops – Carrots, radishes, beets, turnips.

  • Beans and peas – Bush or pole bean varieties. Sugar snap peas.

  • Tomatoes – Determinate, compact varieties. Use cages for support.

  • Peppers – Can be spaced closely. Use mini sweet peppers.

  • Herbs – Oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro, basil, parsley.

  • Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

  • Green onions and leeks.

Building an elevated planting bed with cinder blocks is an easy and budget-friendly way to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. Follow the steps outlined to construct a frame, maximize planting space, maintain the garden, and select suitable crops. With proper care and feeding, your cinder block raised bed will provide a productive, beautiful garden for years to come.

No More Sore Knees

Another plus is that concrete block beds can be built to a greater height for easier gardening. We are in our 60s, and we want to garden for the rest of our lives. Having a taller edge we can sit on is a plus.

For now, our garden beds are only one block high. But we plan to add one or two more levels with top pavers so we can sit on them while we work in the beds.

Also, we learned the first spring that the concrete blocks soak up heat, which helped our garden area melt much faster. Once the sun hit the blocks, the snow melted in a hurry. That’s a real plus in Washington state where we have such a short growing season. Every year, we can get the garden ready pretty early and then wait for the right weather to plant.

Make a Cinder Block Raised Bed


Are cinder blocks good for raised garden beds?

There are a lot of options when it comes to the material used to build a raised bed border. Wood is a common choice. Bricks and stones are good options, too. But if you want something cheap and attractive that’s not going to go anywhere, you can’t do better than cinder blocks.

What plants grow well in cinder blocks?

I planted each of these cloves in its own cinder-block hole. Each one will grow into a full bulb. I also planted two bunches of basil, two bunches of cilantro and one bunch of oregano. Each of these grows in its own cinder-block hole as well.

Are cinder block raised beds a good idea?

Overall, cinder block raised beds are a great way to create a garden in your backyard. They are easy to build, versatile, and affordable. As well, they can provide a strong foundation for your raised garden that can last forever. Cinder block raised beds are great for those who have mobility issues or disabilities.

How to build a garden bed with cinder blocks?

Build the supports for your raised garden bed with the cinder blocks. Make sure to leave enough space between each wall for storage. Then, place wood planks or even a full box on top of the walls to finish the raised bed. If you don’t use a full wooden box, you can place individual cinder blocks on top for your plants.

Should you build a cinder block garden?

Also, keep in mind that the soil in your raised bed will settle over the first few days and weeks, so you may need to add more to fill in the holes and spaces. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy raised bed project, then building a cinder block garden is the perfect project for you.

How much does a cinder block garden bed cost?

At just $2 to $3 per block, the most affordable way to build a raised garden bed is with cinder blocks or heavier concrete blocks. Your budget will vary depending on how large your garden is and the type of plants and flowers you want to grow. To make a cinder block garden bed, first prep the ground.

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