How to Landscape Over Concrete and Pavement (8 Ways)

Maybe you’ve just moved into a property where there’s an existing expanse of concrete, or you’ve grown tired of a patio space that’s just too big for your needs. Fear not! There are plenty of ways to cover up a slab of concrete with a more appealing alternative without having to go to the expense and upheaval of removing the concrete. We’ll look at some of the ways that you can cover up concrete and pavement with a more attractive alternative!         

1. Raised Garden Beds


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Raised garden beds are a great way to add plants to any space, and there are many different ways to achieve this, depending on your aesthetic preferences, budget, and DIY skills.

Building wood raised beds isn’t a complicated process, but you can expect to need to replace them every few years, as they will eventually rot. You can get a few more years out of them if you treat the wood, but even with that extra step they won’t last forever. Still, it can be surprisingly affordable to use wood for constructing raised beds, especially if you can get your hands on free pallets to cut up. Cedar will last longer, but certainly cost more than rough-cut pine.

Many gardeners also use cement blocks, bricks, or galvanized steel for raised bed sides, all of which will last longer than wood, but are a bigger initial investment.

Filling a raised bed may seem like a daunting and expensive undertaking, but you can get creative and fill the beds with a variety of cheap or free materials. You can add lots of scrap wood and even logs and branches for the bottom layer, for instance. They’ll slowly break down and turn into good soil, and in the short term will add much-needed bulk to your bed.

Empty out your compost bins for the next layer; don’t worry if it hasn’t broken down yet, as it will finish the job in the raised bed!  Then finish off the top with a layer of good topsoil or very well-rotted mushroom compost, and then you’re ready to plant.

2. Grow Grass

Grow Grass over concrete idea

If you want less concrete and more lawn, it is possible to grow grass over concrete, but it does take a fair amount of preparation to make it successful. You’ll need a minimum soil layer of 4 inches (10 cm) over the concrete to give the grass roots enough room to grow.

You also need a way for water to drain off of the concrete underneath. Otherwise, the water will saturate the soil, leading to a soggy lawn underfoot in the short term, and root rot that will kill your grass in the long run. Either lay down a layer of gravel on top of the concrete, drill holes through to the ground underneath, or score deep grooves in the surface to carry the water away.

3. Grow Plants

Grow plants over concrete idea

Granted, a grass lawn can be lovely, but it also requires constant upkeep, including mowing, fertilizing, and watering. There are other plants that you can use to create a low-maintenance alternative, with the added bonus of adding valuable biodiversity to your landscape.

Creeping or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is one plant that can be used instead of grass over concrete. The foliage will release a sweet scent when it’s walked on, and the tiny daisy-like flowers are a good source of nectar for pollinators. They are also drought tolerant once mature, cutting down on the need for watering. Since the plants don’t grow taller than about 4 inches (10 cm), you don’t need to mow!

Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox) is also known as mother of thyme, and is winter- hardy to Zone 4. It will quickly spread into large, evergreen mats. Its tiny white flowers are also attractive to pollinators.

There are also many varieties of creeping sedums that are perfect for growing over concrete. They’re very drought-resistant and thrive in a hot, sunny location, but will also grow well in semi-shade.

4. Place Gardening Pots All Around


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For a less permanent solution, consider simply covering much of your concrete slab with pots, creating a varied tapestry of plants in containers large and small. This way, you still can move things around easily whenever you want to make a change. You can also play around with layering and levels, placing some pots on elevated bases to create a fuller display.

You don’t have to run out to the garden centre and buy a lot of expensive pots, either. Get creative and make do with what you’ve got, or can find at yard sales or thrift shops.

For instance, galvanized buckets or wash tubs, new or vintage, make great rust-proof growing containers. Just make sure to punch some holes in the bottom for drainage. You can also take used 5-gallon plastic pails, punch some holes in the base, and spray-paint them whatever colour suits your outdoor décor. If you do buy ceramic or clay pots, try to do so in the fall when stores are selling off their inventory when the season is over.

5. Cover with Pavers or Interlocking Tiles

Cover with Pavers or Interlocking Tiles

Maybe you’re tired of the concrete pad, but still want a patio space to enjoy the summer on. It’s a relatively simple matter to top the concrete with interlocking deck tiles or one of the many styles of pavers that are a fairly easy DIY. Most of them can also be installed over dirt, but if your concrete pad is in good shape, you will have an even easier job just using the interlocking tiles, plus it will be much cheaper.

A well-laid paver or tile patio will last for years, giving your outdoor space a more inviting look and adding value to your property.

6. Cover Up with Artificial Turf


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Forget about the cheap plastic artificial turf of the past; today’s version will definitely wow you with both its practicality and good looks!

If creating a living lawn on top of your concrete pad simply seems like too much work, consider installing a carpet of artificial grass instead. Often made of recycled plastic, it’s perfect for a hot, dry climate where water is in short supply, so it’s doubly good for the environment. The new plastic turf doesn’t even get as hot, making it more comfortable underfoot. They’re even engineered to be able to withstand pet urine!

Just ensure that there’s drainage to prevent water from collecting between the concrete and turf, and you can lay the underpad directly on the concrete, and then unroll the turf. Once it’s installed, you just have to hose it down monthly to give it a good cleaning, and then brushing it to keep it looking its best.

7. Build a Deck Over it!

Build a Deck Over concrete

Old concrete patios can seriously lower the value of your home. Believe it or not, a backyard can make or break someone’s decision to buy a property. Cracks, weeds, and stains on your patio are not pleasant to look at. Another option to hide it is to build a modern deck over it.

Using new materials like composite decking would really change the overall appearance of the space, of course at a cost. Using traditional wooden deck materials is another option as well that is a little more affordable. 

A fresh deck will make the space look clean, new, and welcoming for visitors. Add an outdoor rug, various plants, a new fireplace, and a BBQ grill and you’ll have the outdoor oasis you have been dreaming about!

8. Mix it Up

Mix it Up idea over concrete

Variety is the spice of life, and you can combine the above ideas to create a varied landscape plan on your plain concrete pad! Consider installing a pathway out of pavers or bricks, build a small deck, border the area with some artificial turf for a putting green or sitting area, bordered with raised beds growing a selection of annuals and perennials, or even vegetables.

Tuck in potted plants in available corners, and keep a patch of creeping herbs to fill in odd corners.

You can even add a water feature for a refreshing oasis in the middle of a hot summer’s day, and a fire pit to keep warm on chilly nights!

Read our related post “19 Cheap Ways to Cover a Concrete Patio” here.

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