Found Treasure: Cinder Block Planters

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About a year ago, a friend and I went on an urban exploration.  We were in search of anything that we might make use of in our gardens.  I knew of a site that was used in the past to dump old bits of buildings, including limestone foundation block, terracotta ornamentation, and bricks dumped unceremoniously in an empty overgrown industrial lot.  I’ve been to this site before, and pulled out terracotta blocks to use as plant stands and to act as impromptu garden sculpture.  This time, however, I saw cast column blocks that I had overlooked on previous visits – they reminded me of old stone farm troughs from England, these were smaller, but they were also FREE!

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When I got them home, I thought that they might work well in a new garden that I was working on in the front yard.  I leveled the earth a bit, set down the blocks, and filled them with potting soil and fancy leaved Caladium.

This simple approach seemed to work well, until this spring, when I went to plant some begonias.  The potting mix was filled with a solid mass of Silver Maple tree roots. No good.  I lifted the blocks and the soil/root matrix stood solid.

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I thought of digging a hole and lining it with landscape fabric (weed matting) to keep the roots out, but then struck on the idea of burying a plastic pot under each cinder block.  These pots could be set level and offer a solid base for the blocks to set on.

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The pots were set in the holes with a sandy soil mix locking them in place.

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The blocks were then set on top and filled with a mixture of compost, topsoil, and perlite in roughly a 1:1:1 ratio.

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Finally, they were planted with a mixture of rose and pink Wax Begonia and watered in.  The look is urban renewal cast-offs, meets Old World English garden. Beautiful!

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