Landscaping on the Cheap: 6 Cinder Block Design Ideas

If you're hoping to improve your backyard but you have limited funds, you should look into using cinder blocks in your budget designs. These concrete blocks can be used in many different applications for your landscape, leaving you with a functional and beautiful backyard without breaking your budget. Here are some ways to implement them:

1. Small garden plots. 

Instead of purchasing treated lumber, renting saws, and measuring cuts to build a raised garden bed, just lay cinder block end to end in a rectangle shape with the holes facing up. This leaves you with a large planting space on the inside of your cinder block perimeter, while also leave smaller places to plant herbs and flowers inside the holes of the cinder blocks themselves. As the plants grow, the starkness of the cinder blocks will be hidden by the maturing plants. 

2. Innovative fencing.

A cinder block length of fence can be a great solution for a private back yard. While you may not have your entire fence built with concrete blocks, one side can help provide a sound barrier from a neighbor, keep a dog from escaping, or provide cool shade when you don't have much for trees. The smooth exterior surface of the blocks can also discourage intruders who can climb other fence types easily, because cinder walls provide less hand and foot holds for climbing. You can paint these with bright designs, or even turn some of the blocks around to have access to the holes for making a vertical garden on your cinderblock wall. 

3. Make furniture.

The holes of the cinder block really allow for so many practical applications, including creating outdoor seating. If you stand a block vertically, you can thread a 4x4 piece of lumber through the gap. By standing two or three blocks together, you can create a slatted bench with each end supported by the hole of your cinder blocks. 

By building a low wall of blocks along a deck or patio, you can also create slatted tables, or lay butcher block over cinderblocks to create a counter-height outdoor bar. 

4. Provide separation.

If you want to divide spaces in your back yard but still have visibility from one space to another, the holes of the cinder block can create small "windows" of a dividing wall, providing designated entertaining spaces without cutting people off. As an added bonus, if you have a small pet, like a cat, they can access all parts of the backyard through these holes, but people (and children) can be contained if the low wall forms a gated enclosure.

5. Provide lighting.

If you don't have tiki-lamps and other outdoor lighting for an event, you can utilize cinder blocks by stacking them vertically and placing tea-lights inside. During your night-time event, you will have plenty of ambiance, but the candles will be protected by a solid concrete barrier that prevents wax spilling or misdirected sparks. 

6. Build a fire pit.

If you don't have the money for a circular fire pit kit with custom stack stones, try building one with cinder blocks. The can be stacked like brick work, giving you a modern square-shaped pit. You can use narrower cinder blocks to act as cap stones to cover up exposed holes from the thicker blocks underneath, or you can fill the spaces in each block with dirt or even concrete if you want to pit to be more permanent.

Cinder blocks definitely have a place in modern, budget landscapes. For more landscaping and fencing ideas, talk to companies like Harrington & Company that provide cinder blocks.