Cinder block raised bed

Brad EdwardsJune 4, 2012

I am just trying to get ideas on design veneers, mortar costs, top idea costs, and do yall think 2 foot would be a good height or should I go a little higher, closer to 3 foot or a little over 3? I will be ordering quite a few and would like to get a majority of them at one time. I know this is a bit vauge and costs range all over, I am just trying to budget this 1 1/2 acre build.

What type exterior is the best looking and cheapest long term vs cost uprfront, paint, stucco, veneer, something else?



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

way too vague.
need to set up the scenario a bit better.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

Your right, a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess has anybody made any really pretty raised vegtable beds that are more like artwork than the standard garden, I have seen some but haven't really gotten into the cost aspect of it.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You want to build cinder block raised beds for vegetables, I take it? Are those little rectangles in the upper left corner of your drawing your proposed raised bed veg garden? How big are they? Why do you want to do raised beds? Two feet is probably nice for access (less bending) and might be necessary depending on what the soil conditions are like, but it's pretty high. Three feet would be even nicer for access, but, again, pretty high. The higher the bed, the more expensive. Not just the cost of building the beds, but also the cost of filling the beds. You're proabably talking about many, many, many cubic yards of growing medium. Also, raised beds dry out quickly. What have you got planned for irrigation? For something that elaborate, you'd be foolish not to plan and install some kind of drip irrigation system from the get-go. More cost. I don't see many block beds in this part of the world, but if you're going to bother to finish them at all (aside from maybe some paint), I suspect some kind of stucco finish would be most common. I have no idea how much that would cost. It could be a DIY project (did't Henry Mitchell slather stucco and tiles on the sides of his stock tank lily ponds in some of his columns?), especially if you're willing to always have a glass of wine and not look really closely when heading out to the veg garden. I don't know what kind of veneer you're thinking of -- an artificial stone veneer? I think you just have to decide how big the things are and then price out the pretty-it-up options locally. Just don't forget that the cost isn't just the structure, it's what goes in the structure as well.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

The beds are in the top left. They are roughly standard 8 foot x 4 foot vegetable raised beds, either 24", 32, or 40" off ground. I am going to be searching for some cheap stone for the top.

Growing medium for me is pretty easy as I do landscaping and will just bag good mulch and put behind the fence, it might take a year or so but it will be easy to fill them.

Thanks Mary, That was exactly the idea I was looking for! Cheap tiles might be the easiest way to go for the outside and might end up looking really cool with stucco. I was thinking a brick veneer, I try and be insanely economical so recycled or used/old tiles are right up my alley, especially with all the colors that are involved and its not like I will have to keep the grout cleaned :). Great point about the extras, I will have tons of compost and can get free horse and cow manure, not to mention I have thousands of worms already... boy that didn't sound right.

I guess I was just wondering from a design standpoint how it looks.

I will also probably be doing a DIY drip irrigation out of PVC and my drill press, although I may end up just going the soaker hose route if too much happens.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 6:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

There is always a soft spot in my heart for mosaics. It is time consuming but the finished effect is almost always fun and makes people smile.
Perhaps you can do a few mosaic inlays in your caps ?

One of the best type of irrigation systems that we use in raised beds is with the new inline emitter drip line. Google Urban Farmer Store and check out their educational web pages. you can also order from them too. A great resource.

here is a tear sheet with some raised bed ideas.
From May 30, 2012

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 7:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Love the look and scale of these proposed gardens. Is your home on this property? Hope you'll take lots of pics, before/during/finis.

Glad for you that Deviant D answered. Extremely good and reliable advice.

Best, Rosie

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

Deviant, Thank you so much, Deviant has helped me out a ton before, not only is she educated in landscape, she has an eye for it. BTW I Love your broken glass mosaics, I think I might just have to give it a shot. While I love redwood, "just built a medium greenhouse recently from CL tempered glass" I don't think it has the longevity I am shooting for. inline emitter drip line, SOLD SOLD SOLD after goggling it, I am only 30 but have delt with farmers and master gardeners when it comes to landscaping, so I am a good ways behind in the new technology and trying to catch up desperately. Thanks again Deviant.

I have been making some hypertufa type pots for a while and was contemplating using preformed OSB but know it would be far too much work without enough payoff, though it would be amazing if it were a Japanese garden with black bamboo and my japanese maples.

Rosiew, our home isn't on it yet, the lot is an acre and a half just outside of town a little over an hour from Dallas in a gated community thats actually laid back. Were trying to build this 3kSF home, but am getting plants on sale now and storing them in the greenhouse for later installment :)

The fireplace will be a huge focal behind the pool, will block cold air from the north in the winter, and will function as a pizza oven at the top.

I will be doing all the finish carpentry minus the kitchen and master bath, and all of the landscaping. The house is going downhill at about a 15 degree angle, making a small vineyard in the back perfect. We will also be doing a full well, as water is really expensive and there is a dry creek bed/woods behind the house. The house will be on a pad and I will probably have shrubs at the bottom to make it look taller.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

Just thought I would add a couple of things, I love the walkway on this, but wouldn't use it though it was inspiration for the back yard vanishing point and the firepit in the middle with seating. Whole house will be stained concrete to help with cooling costs, no insulated ceiling floor, and insulated sealed attic, pretty new in home design also extremely efficient for the south.

And well be getting these side lights from New Orleans, I think they can make or break a house, nothing like a 200-400+ Home with a cheap plastic lantern...

Basically its all pretty practical... going nearly all edibles in the landscape, from cherries in the middle, to peaches, edible grapes, wine grapes, pecans, blueberries, and a vegtable garden in the back. Maybe even crab apple along the sides with strawberries underneath.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karinl(BC Z8)

Aim high!

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Gaudi, Park Guell

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like keeping with the style of your home and fireplace for the raised beds. Stone would be nice I think or if you decide to go with another material for cost and beauty, you might consider earthbags with a stucco finish.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

Thank you Karin, That gaudi wall is truly inspirational. I will be trying to limit the stone as its more expensive than brick, that will be close to our fireplace, minus 80% of stone replaced with brick. The fireplace is almost an acre away from the vegetable garden, so they almost wont even be visable to each other. I love all of the pictures on the wall, I will surely take some ideas from that Karin.

The cost of grass here is insane, I figure all of my plans and plants will offset the cost of grass here, and I will seed the rest of the backyard so while it will take a little longer, it will give me roughly 10-14K to spend back there that would be grass :)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

I have seen Antoni Gaudiļæ½s cathedral before in pictures, but am amazed by the Spanish architecture and design, its so formal yet whimsical, exactly what I am looking for in a vegetable garden. Thanks again. Found what I am looking for!

If anybody else has any cool or unique pictures/sites please post. That last one from Karin was mind blowing. "trying to teach myself landscape design and architecture/stay at home dad/grass mower :)"

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brad, are the raised beds to be contracted or DIY?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

The entire landscape is going to be DIY, though I have a really good friend that owns an extremely large landscaping company and my mother thats a master gardener will be helping a lot, not to mention I have put in landscapes for people in the past. I do know what I am doing, I was just trying to get some unusual ideas for something a bit unusual in the raised bed design or exterior finish. I am not new to landscape building, I just was looking for a new idea or something other than stacked stone, veneers, or other cost intensive ideas. Mosaic is great because I will be able to take my time on the sides that are visible from the home and then complete them as I get to them. I know one thing, gardening takes an extreme amount of patience. It will be a mad amount of work though "I am doing the entire yard" and have two pergolas in mind, the 12-15 4x8 raised beds, the pergola trellis around the firepit, the firepit seating, the vineyard, the plantings, the rosary garden, the pool area, herb garden, and the entire front yard "1 Liveoak, 1 purple redbud, 1-2 crabapples along side, two tulip saucer magnolias "ann" along the side, etc.. I am getting as much now as I can and storing them in the greenhouse when I find them on a killer sale or when I can get them from a nursery connection... ex I have about 20 3-4 foot bloodgood Japanese maples I spent around 30-40 on total "may sell or use in friends yards", 2 6ft redbuds for the woods behind were 10$ for both at lowes last fall etc... I am also cultivating the heck out of sweet potato vine and loriopie "monkey grass", I just hope we don't move in the dead of winter and I have to move the greenhouse then, that's going to be a heck of a challenge moving all the plants and it... though I suppose I could garage keep them for a week or so :)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

If you are really interested in following an Antonio Gaudi path then you will have the time of your life designing and crafting your raised planter beds.

During the worst part of the recession I had to take on some freelance sculpture projects to make ends meet.
Luckily I was able to work for a fantastic company called Interplay in Vallejo CA. They design and build fantasy structures for playgrounds and parks with a strong emphasis on mosiacs.
I suggest that you check out their website to see what can be done by sculpting with concrete and embedding mosaics.

Most all the the sculptures start with a rough frame made out of rebar and then it is covered with a composite cement mixture. It is a highly sculptural process.
With this process and some dedicated time, you can craft some wonderfully creative planter boxes.

Another wonderfully sculptural garden to check out is The Wave Garden in Richmond. It will blow your mind. just one link, suggest google for more great images : From Interplay Project From Interplay Project

a few other images from Interplay :

Here is a link that might be useful: cool sculptural / mosaic sculptures

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course you will be going to Bevelo in new orleans for the lanterns? LOVE that store. My teenage daughter just went to New Orleans for volunteer with Hands On, and walked by the bevel store and recognized it from our kitchen...heres a pic

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brad, if I understand you want to build raised beds:

1. For plant growth benefits

2. Permanent without maintenance

3. With a high value of aesthetics

4. With a minimum of cost and ease of construction

There is a major difference in building beds in a warm climate versus a cold one, and since you live in a warm one, I'll stick to consideration of your situation.

There are some practical considerations to building raised beds. A standard for bed width of 4 ft has developed based on human anatomy. This represents, for the average height person, the width that a person can reach to the center of the bed. For this consideration, the measurement is from the outside wall. Wide walls reduce the actual planting area. For a standard 4ft by 8ft bed:

Wood (3.75 x 7.75) = 29.1 sq ft
CMU (2.66 x 6.66) = 17.7 sq ft
Poured 3.5" (3.4 x 7.4) = 25.2 sq ft
Poured 5.5" (3.1 x 7.1) = 22 sq ft

Wood construction offers the greatest planting area, but it isn't permanent and that is especially true in warm climates or where termites may be a problem. Moreover, it is a poor choice for beds over 12" in height.

CMU walls are permanent and you have an endless number of surface treatments that can be used for aesthetics. You can avoid the major reduction in planting area by making the inside of the bed walls be the 4 ft dimension. But unless you stand 6'6" you aren't going to like the result.

Poured walls of 3.5 inch thickness don't greatly reduce the
planting area. I don't recommend more than a 16 inch

Poured walls of 5.5 inch thickness can be built much higher.

Poured walls can have any of the aesthetic treatments that a CMU wall can have. And bolt-together reusable forms make them easier to construct than a CMU wall where multiple beds are to be built.

Bed height is also a consideration, especially for vegetables. For harvest you may need to reach the center of the bed several feet above bed surface. High beds don't work well for vegetables. This is especially true if CMU beds have been widened to increase the planting area.

In my opinion, poured walls 12 to 16 inches high and 3.5 inches thick are the best compromise for the above considerations.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 9:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Brad Edwards

Its 12 AM sun, and I will be working on this another hour or two tonight and will post tomorrow, thank you Deviant for the help and hundreds of pictures. I have compounded the #'s with the lot and have come to the conclusion that having 4 rows of 4x8 with two horizontal in the back in between a back gate in the middle will be spot on at 18. I am going to draw something up tonight/tomorrow and post it in the next day or two.

Pls8xx, Thank you so much for those #'s. I was highly leaning cmu, but am now entirely on the fence as your #1-4 were almost exactly in the order I would have them. I was leaning towards the CMU's because of height and that it would be easier to cart CMU to the end of the lot as I have a mower with 1200# capacity trailer attachment. You have helped a ton with the #'s. If I can't find the block at a reasonable price, I will weld rebar forms for poured and will shoot for 20" in height. I have been helping the school out in their raised beds of recent and am trying to get them into the raised bed/organic/heirloom arena as much as possible. The majority of vegetables will be heirloom and nearly all organic, I have always done all organic, nothing like eating them off the bush. I am thinking when it gets much closer I am going to have to look around heavy for used block and that would save a ton, or possibly purchased on discount. I would really like to use it for 30" of my greenhouse walls as well, as the current OSB has a year or two left max and something more permanent would be great.

Drtygirl, my wife is from New Orleans and I have a good friend that owns a major lighting company in Mobile, AL and I think I can get some really reasonable copper lights at insanely low prices if the timming is right. Have you seen the flicker candles for them, I have not but have heard good things. I do believe the coppersmith is out of alabama, turtle something that supplies bevolo. I absolutely love the look of them over the granite counter, my philosophy is totally pulling the inside out and putting the outside in. Have you seen sola tubes for natural light? I was thinking of maybe even keeping a key lime in the master bath lol. Sense I am off track, I wanted to post my Night white rosary garden design I finally finished last night. We'll have our lifelike statue of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the middle. "notice the two apple trees" its always practical with me to a degree if possible/practical. Roses are finicky at times, even good ones like knock out. I added one in the back for a transplant but its only a solo, I like to do that and it might help some other people out when doing groupings of shrubs. The kidney/pipe shaped path will be gravel and the outside will be slightly raised bed with pine straw surrounded by monkey grass for limited edging/low weeding.

Thank you all very much for all of the help, inspiration, and ideas. I hope I am giving some for others as well.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:33AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Feedback on my design/plans?
In a previous thread I asked for general suggestions...
Need landscaping ideas
Hi, we just built this house on a junior acre in zone...
Trying to design a border in front of elevated deck
I want to plant several shrubs in front of my elevated...
New construction landscaping
I am looking for any suggestions for low maintenance...
Sponsored Products
King "Eyelash" Sham w/ Cording - PEWTER (KING)
$200.00 | Horchow
Jackson Platform Bed - Eastvold Furniture
$3,940.00 | HORNE
Heaven & Earth II Table Lamp by Fire Farm
$291.60 | Lumens
X Spot Throw Blanket
$139.99 | Dot & Bo
Lola 2 Piece King Bedroom Set in Black
$601.00 | LexMod
Zuo Modern Amelie Black Upholstered Platform Bed (King)
Euro Style Lighting
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™