Cinder Bar

I ran across this homemade, and good-looking, "on the cheap" solution for an outdoor kitchen when I went on our local Black Rock & Riverside Tour of Gardens this past summer. I thought it was an inventive way to create a temporary outdoor kitchen for the summertime. Here, in the city, where we have winter time driveways that get used as summertime patios, having something temporary makes good sense. It can be removed as the weather gets worse and access to driveways and the occasional garage is needed. We don't use our garage in the summertime other than storing garden stuff.

This particular configuration covers up a gas grill cleverly. She's got candles in the open spaces of the cinder blocks for evening wear. This garden tour extends into the night and there are a couple dozen of the gardens that are open for viewing 8-10 p.m. (Which, I am told, devolves into a traveling, drinking, garden party). I haven't visited these gardens at night, but I'd love to see the lighting schemes for ideas. And I like a party.

She's got what looks like some herbs to soften the look of the cinder block kitchen and for throwing on whatever's cookin' that night. It's just one step away from the picnic table and also blocks the view of the picnic table from anyone that might peer down the driveway. And hides the grill–grills are ugly. They look like weak-limbed, Darth-Vador-helmeted go carts.

I have a grill in a fairly unexposed area of our deck. But I was thinking that a few well-placed cinder blocks (which I have), with some barn-board planks (which I have) would make a great summer-time bar. I like the idea of incorporating candles into it.

I've seen on Garden History Girl a post about an artist that can go into a Home Depot and, by dry-stacking garden supplies as simple as pavers, creates contemporary (and temporary) garden-worthy sculptures. I may have to try to combine the two efforts to come up with something even more clever!


  1. Like the cinderblock idea, although here in California grilling is a year round pleasure - I just enjoyed grilled halibut for lunch, in fact. I tend to gravitate towards gardens with a modern design sensibiity and will choose that look over ceramic ducks and garden gnomes any day.

    Also like the new photo - looks like you've gone from channeling Indiana Jones to channeling James Bond!

  2. So clever!!! I checked out the artist's web site and am very impressed by her "out of the box" approach to this instant sculpture. Great post.

  3. Hi Jim - Thanks for your comments and the link to your earlier post (I tried to comment there but it wouldn't go through, despite your extra instructions). I love the incredibly artistic design of the street garden you featured, I've never seen one even remotely like it here in Seattle! I started my blog about parking strips (or hell strips as you call them) just because of gardens like this. My own is no marvel of planning like these folks', but it's fun to see what will work out there and modify/add to it as the years go by. I need more perennials and, maybe, pretty rocks!

  4. Hi Jim, the cinderblock kitchen is a clever way to disguise an ugly grill I agree. The paving stones stacked into a sculpture is pretty clever too. Thanks for stopping by today, I will be back to check out your blog more often. :)

  5. Susan,
    Grilling is done year round here too, we just have to shovel a path to the grill. Don't think I'm kidding. I, too, like more modern and cerebral design of gardens. I appreciate those who like the occasional duck, gnome, windmill or smoking cowboy (I have to say that, my mother may read this). If you think I've gone from Indiana Jones to James Bond, wait till you see what other photos I've got.

    I was on the artist's site too. So clever. So simple. So inexpensive (relatively)!

    At some point, I'll repost that old post here. I love that hellstrip / curbside garden. My old site was too frustrating for readers, hence the change. Here in Buffalo hellstrips are a real challenge, we have the added burden of HEAVY snow on top of all the other challenges.

    Stop by anytime. We're always open here at the Art of Gardening.

  6. Hi Jim,
    I gave you a shout out in my post today "Is ninety the new sixty". Drop by if you get a chance. Susan

  7. Hello Jim: The Cinder Bar is such a good idea. I hope it encourages lots of people to look a little more closely around the potting shed or the garage for materials that might be useful in an unexpected way. I enjoy your garden blog -- thanks for visiting mine. Marty

  8. Susan, Thanks for the mention. It's not often I am cited for my photography skills, or maybe it was just in reference to my garden visiting skils. Either way, I'm grateful.

    Mart Ross,
    Thanks for visiting as well. I love looking at other blogs that feature hih design outdoor "accessories." Two come to mind:

    But my budget isn't as big as my dreams are, like most of us. I don't think well-designed items have to be expensive, just clever.

  9. It's interesting. I can see where it could work.

  10. EAL,
    You should have something like this in your garden. I mean, seriously, how can you call yourself Gardening while Intoxicated without a decent bar in the garden?


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