Cinder block raised bed

oceandweller(8B)June 4, 2012

Okay, so 6 makes 96" and 3 make 48, a standard 8x4 raised bed. 16x8x8 are the blocks, stacked 3 high would be 54, hopefully I will be able to find them for around 1$ a piece, but I am thinking they'll be roughly 1.50 each. That's 85 without mortar and soil. I want to do 12 minimum.

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.

What type exterior is the best looking and cheapest long term vs cost, paint, stucoo, veneer?



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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Have you looked at all the pics of his cinder block beds that Jon Hughes has posted here? I linked a bunch of them below to browse through as well as some other discussions on cinder block beds.

Beautiful beds and no exterior treatment is needed either.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cinder block beds and pics

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Just this year I built several new beds out of cinder blocks. I only went 2 high. The 16" is plenty deep enough. I grew lots of root crops in them and I had an amazing carrot harvest this year. Also I only used mortar on the first 2 that i built, which were roughly 18' x 4'. However the last two beds which were approx 14' x 10', I decided to not use mortar. The blocks have not moved a single inch. I have been very happy with the cinder blocks and they work great if you want to build hoop houses over the beds. One piece of advice is to do yourself a favor and put some hardware cloth down at the bottom to keep voles/moles out of the area.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 7:41PM
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Damn, lost the whole message I typed!

I built several raised beds this spring, the narrow 4-inch ones. The top row was solid blocks, I held them together with landscape glue. It is amazing, not budging at all. Since they were narrow, I had to stabilize the base layer by digging and added a layer of paver sand . That was a pain, though I really like the look of my finished beds.

I only went 2 blocks high, the plants are happy but the rabbits van still hop up there. I don't think they'd get up a 3 block deep bed, but I don't know.

The link is what I used for reference building my beds. Oh, my blocks cost only 79 cents each from Menards, in WI.

Here is a link that might be useful: Concrete raised garden beds

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:10PM
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Thanks Dave ;-)
Hi Ocean Dweller,
Check out my youTube videos on how I built my CinderBlock raised beds, (link below).
Also, I get my 8"x 8"x 16" CinderBlocks for 75 cents each, just find the closest manufacturer and they will sell you their seconds for half price (very slight imperfections/chips), which they can't sell as First Run Block.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to build a raised bed that will last forever.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:07AM
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albertar(z7 LINY)

Jon thanks for posting that link, you have inspired me to do the same thing next season. :)


    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:27AM
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Rick_7425(zone 8)

I am going to need a bigger yard !!!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Check Craigslist for cinderblocks if you have one for your area.

Some people just want them off their property or try CL before hiring someone else to haul it off.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:44PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Jon Hughes, awesome stuff!!!! Super jealous lol. I have a mobile home with very limited space and have managed to squeeze in about 130 sq ft of raised beds, I still have room for some more as my budget allows, I plan to keep adding. I would love to do cinder blocks, but I don't think the prop managers would like that so I went with wood for now. Maybe when they rot out in a few years I will see if I can get away with the blocks. I'd prefer that as they're much more sustainable than using up precious lumber.

For now, I'll have the watch your videos and dream :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:57PM
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John, got really busy with the build and got lost. Thank you for the idea on 1/2 block. I love your beds, those look amazing. I will have to go 3 high as well now :) Great idea on the onion and lettuces in those, now you have me thinking about basil, chives, and a ton of stuff that could go in there. I am actually honored you would post. I had not seen your stuff and watched all your videos. I love how you give it away to a food bank your a great guy.

Great idea NC about checking craigslist, I wouldn't be surprised to find some.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:00AM
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Hello! I just found this forum, and this thread... it's a little old, so I hope you don't mind if I jump in with some questions on the subject (or should I start a new thread?). I too am very impressed by John's beds! I'm planning on building two raised beds out of cinder blocks as well, one of them 2 feet high and the other 3 feet. The 2-foot-tall one will be 10x6 feet in size, a garden with a path in the middle of it that you can walk on. The 3-foot-tall one will be long (35 feet) but narrow (2 feet) and will serve as a border edge wall along the sidewalk, and will be planted with shrubs. Now, my questions are -

1. Can I get away with not pouring a concrete footing, but instead using just compacted gravel or sand? Will that be structurally sound?

2. Can I use the "skinny" cinder blocks instead of the standard ones? They're cheaper and lighter, but are they as structurally sound of a choice given the size of my beds?

3. Do I have to fill the cinder blocks' holes with anything for structural support? I was thinking of putting top caps on them so the holes don't collect water (as they'll be quite deep).

4. It's hard to find information on raised beds that are 3 feet tall; is there anything else I need to take into consideration at that height, other than general raised bed procedure? Like, do I have to fill the bottom with a layer of gravel for drainage? Etc.

I'm planning to drive rebar down the holes for extra support, and mortar the joints between the blocks. But given that one bed will be walked on, and the other one is tall, I'm worried about their structural soundness. I feel like the more I read the more confused I get... If anybody can answer my questions, I'd really appreciate it!

This post was edited by DidiH on Wed, May 1, 13 at 21:24

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:23PM
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