How to Build a Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

Last year we installed one cinder block raised garden bed. We hoped to do three but our bodies and budget gave out at one.

Great news! We built the other two raised beds this year! Yay!

There’s nothing quite like growing your own food and I’m anxious to get going again this year! After planting a tad too early last year, we are exercising our patience and waiting for Mother Earth News to tell us when to plant. It’s really quite slick! Just head over to What to Plant Now, click on ‘view planting dates’, enter your zip code and email address and it will send you a handy dandy email when it’s time to plant! Pretty cool, huh?!

How to Build a Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed


Here’s the area we are working on. One lonely cinder block raised garden bed and a whole bunch of moss with a splattering of grass;0)

Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

First, we laid out the cinder blocks where we wanted them.

These cinder blocks are 8″X8″X16″ @ $1.32/each (Home Depot). The long sides of the garden bed have eight cinder blocks and the ends have three for a total of 22 cinder blocks per raised bed.

Total cost for one bed (22 cinder blocks) was $29.04 + tax.

We plan to eventually add a second row of cinder blocks to match the center raised garden bed. It isn’t necessary but would make it easier on our backs! Perhaps next year!

Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

Of course, the ground isn’t even so we either dug a little of the grass out underneath or used a bit of sand to make the cinder blocks line up. It really wasn’t too bad.IMG_2392

We used painter’s paper from the paint section at Home Depot in the bottom of our beds. Newspaper or cardboard work great too!IMG_2400

A half yard of a compost/topsoil mix was used to fill both beds. They aren’t completely full but it works!IMG_2411

Wondering what all that cardboard is about?! I knew you were!

Our original plan was to rent a sod cutter and remove the moss/grass, bring in a load of sand, and lay flagstone around our cinder block raised garden beds.

We decided our budget would like us better if we used pea gravel and, hey, why not just lay cardboard over the grass and dump the pea gravel right on top?!

It was an easier and less costly option.

Blake dug out a trench for edging. We used the black plastic edging but, I have to say, I’m not too impressed. Someday we will have that cool concrete edging!IMG_2398

And voila! We are ready to plant!IMG_2418

Now the question is … what do I plant where?! Check out these plant companions for ten common vegetables. It’s a great resource for plant friends and foes.

Cinder Block Raised Garden Beds

Every morning I open our blinds to this fun view. It will be even better when it’s full of scrumptious veggies!

I love walking barefoot on the pea gravel. It’s a great way to get a little ‘earthing’ in. I’ll take that over an earthing mat any day! Of course, the beach would be even better but we work with what we have!

5 Secrets to a Healthy Garden

Favorite Gardening Resources:

Mother Earth News will send you emails when it’s time to plant!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is where you will find garden friends and foes.

Old World Garden Farms is one of my favorite gardening blogs. If you love to garden, I would suggest subscribing to their site and you will receive super useful emails full of great gardening information just when you need it!

Another helpful blog post is How To Grow A Vegetable Garden by Ruth at Living Well Spending Less.

Twenty-two cinder blocks, 1/4 yard of topsoil/compost mix and you’re in business! The rest … well, that’s just for fun!

Update: It has been brought to my attention that it may not be in our best interest to use cinder blocks for our garden beds. There may or may not be heavy metals that will leach into the soil and possibly the plants.

Read more about the use of concrete blocks here:

A Warning about Cinder Block or Concrete Masonry Gardens

Is It Dangerous to Make A Garden Bed From Cinder Blocks?

There is also a discussion on the use of cinder blocks here.

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  • kay ~ the barefoot minimalist Mar 1, 2016, 1:12 pm

    Dear Jayleen,

    I know nothing, I mean zero Zip NADA about gardening. But I do have a question. Why raised gardens instead of just regular in the earth ones? Is there a particular advantage to it? Like maybe rabbits won’t eat the veggies if they have to work that hard to climb up and over the blocks? 😛

    Thanks and Most Sincerely,
    ~ kay 🙂

    • Sunshine and Rainy Days Mar 1, 2016, 1:25 pm

      Hi Kay! Raised garden beds are much easier on the back and I suppose they might keep those bunny rabbits out too. One level isn’t keeping a certain Schicon named Teddibear out of our garden. He does stay out of the raised bed with two levels of blocks!

      Another advantage is gardening without rocks! We also have a garden area on the side of our house (not raised beds) and every year we pick rocks. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE rocks but they aren’t great in the garden beds. Somehow they just keep coming to the surface! It’s never ending around here!

      It really all depends on what kind of soil you’re working with!

      Great question, Kay!

      • kay ~ the barefoot minimalist Mar 2, 2016, 7:28 pm

        Hey! I never thought of the rock angle! I know hubby’s been wanting to plant in giant containers. I don’t know. Seriously, I love you all, but I’d rather just go to the store! Thanks for the thorough explanation Jayleen. (I’m a rock lover too!) 🙂

  • Earnie Mar 11, 2016, 5:11 am

    I was reading where cinder blocks are toxic for veggies because of how the cinder blocks are made. What has been your outcomes?

    • Sunshine and Rainy Days Mar 11, 2016, 9:41 pm

      Hi Earnie! This has recently come to my attention and I have included links that discusses it further. It does concern me, however, we continue to use our garden beds. I am uncertain how to find out if our veggies are toxic. They seem to grow and taste great! If we were to do it again, we might consider cedar raised garden beds.

      • Margaret Apr 16, 2016, 7:13 am

        I have done some research on the whole toxic cinder block thing and all I can really find is that if you use a sealer or a liner you should be fine. I swear “they” who ever “they” are sure make it hard do the right thing!!!
        I am going to seal mine. Putting it in today!!

        • Sunshine and Rainy Days Apr 16, 2016, 8:37 am

          Thank you for sharing your research! What will you be sealing it with?
          I agree, it’s hard to know the right thing to do.
          Enjoy your day and the start of a new garden bed!
          We will be planting some today! Yay!

  • David Oct 1, 2016, 7:18 am

    Don’t fall for the toxicity crap. You’re not in a factory MAKING cinder blocks from raw materials. You’re using set blocks where any chemicals used in the making are so locked into the block that you’ll never have any issues – especially if you put in a barrier. There are a lot of fear-mongering uneducated people online. Do real research.