Ideas to cover concrete block wall

June 10, 2005

I have an atrocious retaining wall that runs the width of my backyard. Some of the blocks are new and others are old. It is two-toned gray and a huge eyesore. I have a climbing rose on it but it doesn't cover it very well. Any ideas of what I could do with it? I have thought about covering it with faux stone but I don't know where to get any. I thought about stucco but seems like alot of work. Do you think I could fill the holes in the top with some kind of plant that will run down the sides? Any help is appreciated.

Comments (30)

  • Happy_Go_Lucky_Gayle

    It sure wouldn't take much work to get honeysuckle going in the holes. If you can handle it. Would you be able to just paint the walls a olive green? Kinda Camouflage it? Then plant a vine. $ wise easy.

    Or faux paint it to look like Ancient or Mediterranean Stone.

    Or plant a low growing hedge in front of it. :)

  • debrazone9socal

    I had the identical problem a few years ago. My wall is about 80 feet long, and part of it was colored differently than the rest (newer). "Eyesore" is a good word for it.

    Because I didn't want to invest a lot of money at the time, I simply planted a variety of vines, hoping the thing would eventually get covered up. All of this has worked.

    The most effective is climbing fig, but I also have bougainvillea, potato vine, a couple of different honeysuckle vines and trumpet vines. All growing all over each other...it actually looks very cool.

    When we first planted, we installed horizontal wires held in place with metal eyes, at a couple of different heights, so we could easily attach vines to the wall.

    I grow lots of roses, but I would not choose it for this purpose because it will not give you the coverage, it needs to be attached (not a vining plant) and seasonal changes mean there will be bare spots, etc. Forget the rose.

    The vines also make a nice background for trees, shrubs or whatever you plant in front of it. Eventually, we stopped seeing our wall. The whole thing acquired a look of depth which added to the appearance. Otherwise, you are looking at a very expensive stucco or stone veneer job.

  • YardGal

    Wow! That sounds lovely Debra. Is there any way you could post a pic? Thanks for the tips and the tip about the rose.

  • GardenChicken

    Check this out in the Hypertufa forum...

    Wish I had an ugly retaining wall just so I could do this! :)

    Here is a link that might be useful: 120 ft retaining wall

  • YardGal

    I can't pull that picture up Gardenchicken. I did go to the nursery today between rain showers and they are going to order some creeping fig vines for me. YEAH! I should get them next weekend, at an excellent price too. Thanks so much for the suggestions.

  • GardenChicken

    YardGal, you have to scroll down to the last post in the thread, you'll find an acive link to the pictures there. It really is worth looking at, it's an amazing project! Do have a look...

  • YardGal

    WOW! That is amazing isn't it! Maybe I can do that with the very small portion of my wall that I won't be covering with vines. It is only about 8 ft. long and is right by the patio area. That would look great there. Thanks for the link!

  • Belgianpup

    You might want to do something totally different. Why not paint it?

    Sounds too weird? Before you write it off, you might want to ask your library to order this book as an interlibrary loan if they don't have it, as it's quite new:

    Garden Gallery, by Little and Lewis

    They needed a solid wall to screen off their neighbors, as they show their garden art at their home garden. A concrete wall would be too expensive, so they went with faux concrete/adobe and painted it. I think in the book it was turquoise, but I saw it in person last weekend and it was purple. They just roller the paint on and change the color when the mood strikes.

    I've put their website below, as you might be able to see the wall(s) there.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Little and Lewis Garden Gallery site

  • kobold

    Yard Gal, our concrete wall is on a slop, between us and the neighbour, who is again one level higher than us. The wall is 25 ft. long, hight starts with 8 ft. ends with 3 ft. On the top of this is the neighbour's fence. I tried different plants, vines, nothing worked well.From a recycle place I got huge panels of mirror, my garden is very lush,front of the mirror are plants too, the reflection is wonderful.

    Sue, thanks for the idea for this forum.


  • spiritual

    When I couldn't sleep the other night (3:00 a.m.) I found a garden show on t.v. and the subject of "aging" concrete and tarra cotta came up.

    The guy used:

    *Outdoor laytex paint (dark colors work best) mixed 1 part paint with 1 part water.

    *Then he painted the area with a regular brush.

    *Then he wiped excess paint off with a cloth.

    *Then (very important) he used a hand full of weeds and rubbed them over the surface to give it a aged look.

    I'm going to do this with large cinder block planters I've placed all over my gardens when I complete other major landscaping projects. It seems inexpensive, quick and easy to get a spectacular result.


  • Mebane

    Do you remember the name of the gardening show that you saw that on? I would like to see a demonstration if possible. You know sometimes they repeat episodes or have info on the web. Thanks!

  • Adnama

    I wouldn't recommend painting it at all. Concrete drinks paint like water and you'll end up spending a ton of money on three times the paint you need. Even if you prime it first.

    I like the idea of vines coming from above and below. I must admit, that tufa wall is really impressive, too!

  • Ina Plassa_travis

    you can cover it with plants ...if you know what type of cinder blocks they are, you should be able to figure out where the cavities are, bash a hole into them here and there, add dirt (I've found that mixing it with water to make a slurry, and 'funnelling' it in to the hole works best- if I can, I stuff some coir matting in there first) add succulents or alpines, and watch them take over.

    you can mix up a big batch of hypertufa, color it if you want (the pigment powders are readily available) and slather it on the wall like stucco (the tufa forum is a great resource for this)

    or you can go to home despot, buy several gallons of 'ick' colored paint for $5 a gallon, pour it all into a bucket, and use a coarse roller to base coat the wall, then paint it anything you want... terra cotta and deep blues are 'traditional' but just about anything would work.

  • Garden_trolip

    This is my ugly cinder block wall :) The previous owners had done a terrible job of painting it off white. My entire yard is done in Terra Cotta. Exterior latex paint. Dosen't suck up anymore paint than painting a house.
    This is my side Topiary garden in Periwinkle blue :)

  • maybe_a

    Garden_trolip, your pics are great! I am inspired!


  • tomtuxman

    Yardgal, I have a concrete block 2-car garage, the front of which is stuccoed. It was butt-ugly, painted white only in front, the sides and rear were unpainted. I re-painted it using "masonry and stucco paint" which is somewhat thicker and more textured than regular exterior latex. I can't remember brand I used, maybe Behr. Some others are McCloskey, Quick-crete and SandTex.

    But after looking at Garden Trolip's walls, I'm just thinking of painting it again and this time having some fun with it. Maybe even some "sponged" effects for more dimension.

  • anitamo

    Garden trolip...Your walls are absolutely beautiful. I love the colors. Royal blue is my favorite color in the garden, and the orange wall looks great, too, with the blue accents.

  • dulcie2003

    For those of you who have planted climbing fig on your block walls, I beg you to keep it on your side of the wall. My neighbor who lives behind me planted it and the dang thing has spread from his wall to his neighbors and is presently taking over the entire block. We've asked him to prune the plant, but he won't do it. The plant is a rampant grower and I had to trim it at the top of my wall every weekend. Many of the neighbors finally gave up in frustration and let it spread to their sides, then it took off down the side walls. When I discovered that black widows liked to breed there I got rid of it from my side. It's quite irritating to have to spend every weekend trimming someone elses plant from a hundred foot section of wall. I will admit that it covers a wall in no time and looks nice and green, but please, be thoughtful of your neighbors and keep it on your own property..lol.

  • Irma_StPete

    For painting when not particular about exact hues, try your Home Depot's "OPPS" shelf in the paint section. Gallons usually $25 go for $5, small $8 cans go for $1. Wood (deck) protector, also.

  • Irma_StPete

    Oops! I meant "OOPS" paint!

  • kathi_mdgd

    Garden trolip,
    Your wall is Beautiful!!! What did you use to attach all those things to the wall?? I also have a wall between my neighbor and myself,and when i try to pound nails in it they just bend.TIA

  • TropiConsul


    The site above has some really interesting applications for faux stone veneer. I haven't used their products but was hoping somebody in the forums had. I'd really like to construct about 80 feet of garden wall at a reasonable cost.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tejas Textured Stone

  • foxglove44

    Garden trolip...WOW! Your wall and gardens are beautiful. Care to share more pics?

  • lynn4547

    Just looking through some of the tips to cover a garden wall.

    Can anyone help with this?

    We live in Spain - long hot summers and very dry. We have a 100 meter retaining wall which is sloping from 2 meters to about 5 meters end to end. We live on a hillside and this wall is behind us mostly below ground level and there is a road behind it. The wall is concrete bricks covered with a white paint and suffers really badly from efflorescence. Its incredibly ugly and paint lasts about 2 months before it comes off. The only solution I can think of is to stone clad it - quite expensive and lots of work.

    I like the idea of planting climbing plants from the other side to grow up and over the wall and hang down our side but worry about the possibility of the plants taking over(100 meters is a lot to maintain) also a bit worried about the reference to dangerous spiders.

    At this stage any advice would be gratefully received...

    Thanks in advance.

  • keekush2

    We're in Ohio. Had a huge concrete wall built around our pool area. I couldnt stand the concrete so we tiled it. Its a peachy orange tile with random radiant blue tiles placed here and there to mimic the tile in the pool. We've had it up now for over ten years and not one single problem.
    Im sure we just picked the tiles up at Lowes because we were looking for not overly expensive stuff because the wall is massive.
    Love your pictures Garden trolip (as well as your sn) :)

  • trailrunner

    Does anyone know where garden-trolip got too ?? I love the walls. We have them around our pool area and it needs painting anyway. I also need to knwow how he fastened all thise things to the wall and then where do you get such great stuff ?

  • jems326

    I love your terra cotta and blue walls. I bookmarked that thread a few years back b/c I knew I'd someday want to do something w/ my HIDEOUS cinder block walls. They're retaining walls and vary in height from maybe 3 to 8 feet. I'm just wondering how the exterior latex paint holds up against the outdoor elements? How often does one need to re-paint? I imagine the paint holds up best on walls that are NOT retaining - b/c so much moisture seeps through w/ a retaining wall? Somebody else mentioned masonry/stucco paint, maybe I'd be better off w/ that. I'd love to hear how your paint is holding up. Thank you!

  • azgrdnlvr

    Hello all! I live in a block house and when I need pictures hung, my husband uses a masonry bit on his drill. There are all kinds of fasteners and hangers at home depot. I will have him try it on our backyard wall and if I can remember I will post our results. I also wanted to mention that boganvia grows great next to a block wall, depending on how you trim it, it can cover a good amount of space. It is very resilliant and grows great in our hot az weather.

  • bill_g_web

    I covered our relatively small CMU wall with wood pieces, mimicking a ledgestone look.

    Here's a how-to : www.billb.name/diy/retainingWall.asp
    Here's a photo:

  • chris2u

    Nice job, bill_g_web . You sure put a lot of thought into that project and it paid off. Very appealing.


Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268