Afternoon project: Vibe shift on the concrete block outdoor plant stands

Concrete blocks are hard to beat, when it comes to DIY outdoor plant stands. They’re cheap, they’re sturdy, they introduce a sense of architecture to your outdoor space.

Like we always say, “The higher the plant, the closer to gahh…rdener.” In other words, you’re more likely to benevolently intervene and make miracles with your plants when they’re near eye level.

California poppies pop even more against Benjamin Moore’s cool and expressive ‘Pressed Violet.’

You might remember the audacious realm of stacked concrete blocks we created under the citrus trees and beyond. We also did a special installation for Halloween, reminiscent of a pixelated jack o’lantern. Even the primroses had their moment.

But recently, I (Chantal) shook up my concrete block routine with a type of block I’ve never used before.

Meet the 12″ x 12″ x 8″ block. Its square face bestows a kind of visual lightness you don’t get with the more popular rectangular blocks — quite a feat with concrete. Also, you get a two-for-one deal in that you can put a plant on top of it, and another its center. These square blocks (you’ll find a lot made by Angelus Block) are usually used to make commercial column structures.

Because what’s more fun than taking some gruff industrial masonry and yassifying it into a perch for petunias?

In the LA garden, I’m now working with three shapes of blocks: the abovementioned square ($5.67 each); the classic 6″ x 8″ x 16″ ($1.47 each); and the other classic 6″ x 8″ x 8″ ($1.47 each). Instead of the white that we previously painted our blocks, I found some leftover paint that I’d used to paint the concrete retaining walls of my previous garden back in 2018, and paint I used for the accent wall of my new home office back in March.

The vibe shift in my mind wants a stormy bluish violet and a 1970s terra cotta orange. Here are the Benjamin Moore shades I used:

Pressed Violet CSP-520

Tangerine Fusion 083

Tropical Paradise 575


*Devil Wears Prada voice* It’s a tough call, they’re so different…

I hosed down the blocks using the jet setting and scrubbed them clean with some dish soap. Once they were dry, I painted them using a roller for rough surfaces.

Glad I did this afternoon project. The garden is toast right now — with fried leaves where there were once spring flowers. So these blocks are adding a very welcome infusion of color.