Besser concrete blocks are cheap, stackable and durable, with two cavities that are ideal for plants.
This mortared wall is made of eight courses using 26 blocks and four half-blocks, with 16 used as planters.
Dry-stack the blocks to get the best configuration for the space, make a mortar mix and lay them in position.
Include full and half blocks in the wall with seven set perpendicular to the rows, half-lapping in position.
The planter wall is decorative and was built on the footing of a raft slab in a spot protected from the elements.
For extra safety, each block course is securely tied to the existing brick wall using Grade 316 stainless steel ties.
Choose the plants
Succulents are a good choice for a planter wall as they are drought tolerant, hardy and low maintenance.
Many succulents, such as certain varieties of aloe, echeveria and kalanchoe, grow well in both full sun or shaded positions.
Buy the plants in 100mm pots, from about $4 each, from nurseries and garden centres.
Choose this size so the rootballs fit in the cavities of the blocks and allow enough room for growth.
Go for a combination of upright and cascading succulent varieties, mixing up the foliage shape, texture and colour for an eye-catching and structural display.
Use a good quality, free-draining potting mix or buy a specially formulated cacti and succulent mix, watering the plants in well.
Once established, water only once a week in summer and every two to three weeks in winter.
TIP Ensure the drainage is efficient as succulents rot if left standing in water.
Painting the wall
Coloured concrete structures have a very South American look, so go all out when choosing a colour to paint the planter wall.
Go for bold and vibrant red, blue, orange or yellow, or for a fun fiesta feel choose a bright pink like the one used here.
Buy a low sheen exterior acrylic, check out the swatches and choose a colour, then get the paint tinted in-store.
Build a planter wall
To establish the best layout for the available space, dry-stack the blocks in position, ensuring the perpendicular blocks are anchored by full blocks above. Draw a sketch or take a photo of the layout then dismantle the wall, numbering the blocks as you go.
Measure the base of the block then cut 16 pieces of weedmat to measure 100mm longer and wider than the block base using a utility knife. Fold over the edges and secure the weedmat inside the blocks to be planted using construction adhesive.
Mix a batch of mortar to a creamy consistency on a mortar board then lay the blocks one course at a time on a 10mm thick mortar bed. Stagger the planter blocks in each course and prop the front edges with lengths of timber until the mortar has set.
As you build the planter wall, use a spirit level to check each course of blocks for level, adjusting them by tapping the blocks gently with the handle of a brickie’s trowel if needed. TIP Secure stainless steel wall ties in position with each course of blocks.
Apply a white-coloured primer to the brick wall and concrete block planter then two coats of exterior acrylic using a roller. The paint job won’t be flawless because of the different textures but a rustic finish is part of the appeal of the planter wall.
Fill the planter blocks lined with weedmat to three-quarters with a good quality, free-draining potting mix. Remove each plant from its pot, loosen the rootball and position in the planting holes. Backfill with mix and firm it down gently, watering in well.