CMU bench/planter at Manaow

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I finally found a moment when Manaow’s CMU bench/planter could be investigated minus the usual throngs of people.
That window of quiet was around 7 a.m. in the morning, when the only activity at this east end of Broadway was the Laundromat next-door opening for business.
I discovered this clever incursion into the parking lot when Mitch and Jessica took me out to breakfast at the The Potholder a couple doors down.
As can be seen from the parking grid and stripes, this Thai restaurant hacked the parking lot for some outdoor dining and came up with a strong graphic design to define the area.

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A hack within a hack. As far as I know, the credit for the original CMU planter hack goes to Annette Gutierrez of Potted.
The humble concrete masonry unit’s stackable, Lego-like potential has since been exploited over and over in seemingly endless planter configurations.
There hasn’t been this much fun with concrete since Frank Lloyd Wright played with the stuff.

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The bench is why I found this one so intriguing.
I’ve been mulling this over and haven’t decided if/where to build a bench of my own.

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The relative permanence and lack of mobility make it a poor fit for me, a chronic shuffler of objects.

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Marty is so ready to start in on this project.

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And the fat and happy succulents are really selling it.

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Have you noticed the unusual placement of the pavers? Gravel-filled space between the pavers gradually widens at the table and chairs area.
(Table and chairs had been brought inside overnight.)

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And then the gap closes on the pavers in front of the entrance.

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Although we haven’t decided to build it yet, this little project’s influence is already being felt.
I knew exactly what container I wanted for the Queen Victoria agave I rescued from the tree litter of the front garden.
It’s not CMU, but a concrete/fibeglass formulation, a kind of CMU lookalike, a hack of a hack…

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15 Responses to CMU bench/planter at Manaow

  1. Jane Strong says:

    I like them. Is there rebar to hold the stacks of three in place, do you know? Are they filled all the way to the ground with soil or just the first block, again, do you know?

  2. Denise says:

    Jane, I don’t know about the depth of footings, rebar, etc, but the planters appeared to be mortared in place. I have seen criticism of lack of stability in DIYer projects, but this one appears completely solid, especially important here since it also functions as a bench. Maybe I can get a little more info the next time I order pad thai 😉

  3. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening! says:

    Really nice. I think you should go for it but don’t mortar things together. Even loose-stacked blocks will be sturdy enough for your personal use, and you can get a taste of how you like it or where you want to move it. I’m sure after the second time or so that you relocate it you’ll decide that last spot is “perfect”. 🙂

  4. Emily says:

    The Potholder!!!!! My husband and I used to eat there all the time when we lived in Long Beach. Good times.

  5. Denise says:

    @Alan, this could be a good fit for the hell strip that I’ve given up on –plants are up high, don’t get stepped on, and there’s room to get in and out of cars…hmmm…
    @Emily, so many kinds of eggs at the Potholder!

  6. Jessica says:

    I’m so glad you’ve had a chance to go back and take photographs — the details you’ve caught here are so cool! Can’t wait to see the projects this inspires. Next time let’s eat there ^_^

  7. Denise says:

    Jessica, yes, some further reconnaissance on the CMU and dinner too!

  8. Alison says:

    Could you perhaps build a smallish one on top of a wooden platform on wheels, to make it portable?

  9. Great look. I really like it. The gradually increasing spacing of the pavers is a nice touch.

    Where did you get the container for your Agave v-r? It’s perfect–and exactly what I’ve been looking for. I need for four a project.

  10. Denise says:

    @Alison, I like the way you think! We are discussing wheels. Marty built an enormous storage shed on wheels that we push up and down the driveway as needed for project space, so we’re great fans of them.
    @Gerhard, this one for the agave was the last they had in stock at Lincoln Nursery in Pasadena. I found the first one a few weeks back and scoured them again recently and found just one more. It took about 2 hours to clean out all the jacaranda petals from that agave!

  11. Excellent investigative work! The square shape of those cmus really takes the design up a notch. I must say the bench part (the wood seat) feels a little clumsy. I can’t wait to see what you and Marty do with this idea!

  12. dustin says:

    great design. Food was good and well priced too!

  13. Denise says:

    @Loree, that isn’t enough bench for me. I need a couple long ones. We’ve got the wood, and I’m thinking getting some hairpin legs.
    @Dustin, I’ve only had takeout yet and had the same opinion.

  14. Lorinda says:

    This is a great idea! I’ve been wanting another plant bench. My collection keeps growing but my space remains the same.

  15. Denise says:

    Lorinda, ain’t it the truth!

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