Concrete Yard! Ideas?

34 Replies


Did a quick search and didn't see anything like this similar so here we are.

I am currently under contract to purchase my first Duplex in Mid February.  Its a corner lot with both a shed and a carport.  The question I would like help with is what do do with the yard.  It is ALL concrete.  The old owners seemed to fill in the areas around the built pathways with concrete.  What is left is a multi color, rough, cracking concrete yard.

 Not just that but there is falling chainlink fencing surrounding the property, all in the concrete.  The chainlink needs to go regardless but I was wanting to go wood fence to make it look nicer.  Was hoping to get suggestions or feedback from investors who have dealt with similar properties. Area is probably C+/B- and headed up.  

I was thinking either:

  • SawZall the metal pole frames as close to the concrete as I can and just try to throw some concrete on top to smooth over these spots.  Keep concrete yards but try to smooth it over with a thin coat over the rougher areas and give it one solid paint color.


  • Break up the concrete with jackhammer, leaving the concrete under the carport and cutting out pathways to the doors.  These gaps would be filled with some type of low maintenance, decent looking, gravel/turf.   Not sure how turf will look but if it looks halfway decent then it is worth it.


(Your Suggestion Here)


@Matthew Paul  I'd give a rough estimate at one long side of the yard being 20X50 and the "Front being around 15X8

@Dean H. So you are saying to pull it all out and turf it? and put 1' of rock in area around the house? 

@Tim Kaminski  

Honestly, you're looking ahead.  The BIG question is, "What does your drainage do?"  I wouldn't even think of doing 'landscape planning/architecture' in this environment without first flooding the place, seeing where the water flows v. where it pools. 

If you need to replace hardscape with hardscape-- perhaps because the intended "Walkway" becomes pooled with 3" of standing water when it rains, then break that up & consider semi-pervious pavers instead.  If you need to channel water away from the foundation because it seeps into the Crawlspace/basement, then creating appropriate waterways and/or swales is  MUCH more important than making it pretty (sorry!)   

If possible, flood it BEFORE you buy, so you can anticipate and renegotiate any issues.  Make that part of your property inspection.  

AFTER all that's handled and you can predict the water action...  decks, gravel-y gardens and other containment areas are lovely, yes. This Old House has stuff on this type of development, all the time.  Don't forget to consider raised flower and veggie gardens (**Don't use pressure treated wood for consumables!!!**) -- they are another great way to create barriers, greenery and utilize your hardscape in a more-traditional manner.  Furthermore, if you throw a set of solid casters on the bases, they're mobile, too.  

Good luck.  Sounds like fun.  


Its an old google maps image.  All the weeds are gone and the ramp on the side is gone.  Removing all the concrete and putting in turf sounds expensive for the amount that I would do.

PS-- before you start to break any of it up, the term that you need to search in your Muni-County building, zoning and planning code is this: 


If the County has a requirement, and you're not compliant... you may be grandfathered until you touch it.  As soon as you do anything to it, all bets are off- they could make you come into compliance with current Zoning on Impervious Surface area allowances.   

I would cover over it with the round rock beds and patch and cover astro turf area. You said c class area don't spend too much, they won't care. We did some years ago with 1" round rock "beds" and red lava rock "Lawn" looked great and NO MAINTENANCE other than occasional weed 

Thin layer to smooth things out? Just how thin are we talking? Because ur bandaid on the problem will crack on its own in no time.

Paint the within fence concrete with concrete color driveway paint.
Do a few big pot along the metal fence and plant some climbing Jasmine and ur fence will get cover in no time.

The side walk/street is what looks off to me.

@Steve McGovern great point.  Should be much more concerned with water drainage at this stage.  House has already been inspected but it rained a bit today and it pooled slightly towards middle of way but had nothing near foundation.  I think my best bet at this point would be to swing by for the next big rain as I can't really just show up and flood their yard with a hose.
So if I see any issues with water drainage, next step would be to possibly break up some of these areas and create a concrete swale for this area?  Thanks for feedback

@Dean H. Have any pictures of how this turned out?  Any estimate on cost?

@Matthew Paul Only thing is the cost of turning this back into a lawn.  I don't want to install irrigation and South Florida lawns are VERY intensive to keep DECENT

@JingJing He That was probably a bad idea, sure.  Just a lot of broken up slabs that make everything look worse.

Hard to understand what you're trying to say.  Are you saying to paint within the metal fence and plant vines on the metal fence?  That is interesting but I REALLY hate chain link fences.  Houses in neighborhood have wood fences that look nice and chain link just screams cheap.

Originally posted by @Tim Kaminski :

@Steve McGovern great point.  Should be much more concerned with water drainage at this stage.  House has already been inspected but it rained a bit today and it pooled slightly towards middle of way but had nothing near foundation.  I think my best bet at this point would be to swing by for the next big rain as I can't really just show up and flood their yard with a hose.
So if I see any issues with water drainage, next step would be to possibly break up some of these areas and create a concrete swale for this area?  Thanks for feedback

 Tim, yes, all that on swales/raceways is true-- proceed as mentioned as necessary to protect your structure.    But you also may find the opposite is beneficial-- why not put the 'garden' in the area where the water already naturally goes?  OR,  why not create another swale for the sole purpose of recycling  all the waste directly where you need it?    In another post you mentioned the intensive nature of lawns in the vicinity.  This property gives you the unique ability to easily utilize every drop of water that Mother Nature provides.  Take this odd property and use this fact to your advantage.  

No, you can't quite just show up with a hose, but perhaps you can mention this to your Inspector-- assert that they SHOULD HAVE thought about drainage here, and ask them to add a note stating something like "subsequent inspections of directionality of exterior stormwater flow are recommended..."  If you can get that comment in there before your lender sees the inspection then I bet you CAN exactly show up with a hose. Furthermore, assuming you've got a mortgage contingency clause, it'll be in the lender's interest to conduct the test, too, and that's when you rely upon that contingency.  

** Edit-- it's stormwater, not wastewater. :-) 

@Steve McGovern  It's an elevated property about 2' from street level.  I don't think it will drain perfectly but shouldn't be too big of a concern.  Maybe create a swale on the end that is still dirt.

The annoying thing about South Florida lawns are not water amounts, we get plenty during summer.  Its the amount of fertilizations and pest treatments you have to do on it throughout the year to keep diseases and such away.

From the picture, ur cemented yard looks greenish. There are paint for cements paints that have colors that’s close to cement color.

And adding greens vines will make it look like u have greens in ur cement jungle. And over time the vines to covered up the metal fence.

And I would say depends on how much more rent difference you can charge with the big project. Taking out all the cement is hard work and dumping them will be costly.

I would cover at least with 1" of crushed gravel, it cleans things up nicely... and a gold color vs a grey would bring some life vs the grey concrete.  You (or tenant) could add raised beds or big pots on it if so desired.  You'd probably need to create a  border of a 2x4s or something in the front to hold the gravel but that's a pretty easy fix.

I would really listen to @Steve McGovern on this one. even though it looks to you like drainage won't be an issue all it takes is a little water on a consistent enough basis to do real damage. If one low spot hold water on even one little part of the house it's gonna eventually bring issues, obviously water but bugs love that soft wood. Water kills homes

1. If it's in C class neighborhood, why do you have to do anything to it? Take care of the house and maybe just put some big container planters with some cacti/succulents.

2. You can use the metal posts for wood fencing, especially if they are in solid concrete. There are metal brackets that can "hug" the pole and fence beams can be screwed in (I have it at my house). 

3. Go to and look for inspiration. Search for "concrete yard" ( You can also search for "concrete planters""concrete containers" or xeriscape.

4. Same thing on Pinterest - search for "concrete yard" and "concrete driveway", etc. 



@Tim Kaminski I owned a corner duplex and with two units, parking is very important. It looks to me like the back is parking, so do NOT remove the concrete. I would repair the concrete by patching in the least expensive manner. You can stain or paint over it if you want to make it look better. 

As far as the front yard, concrete is the ultimate in low maintenance. Why on earth would you add greenery that is just going to become a maintenance issue for you. You want some low maintenance bushes and trees for curb appeal. I would cut out openings to add some plants, then cover the concrete with landscaping rock. No reason to remove all the concrete, it is just added expense.

The fence is very important on a corner lot. You can paint chain link fence with aluminum paint. It will make a rusted fence look brand new. Repair the fence and paint it.

Bottom line is nobody renting this duplex will do so because of the yard. Even if you spent thousands putting grass in, it is still a tiny yard on a corner lot. They need parking. The fence is needed for security.

@Tim Kaminski ,  on my second point, the Muni-County level due diligence,  a quick google search of "City of Tampa", Impervious Surface and/or Stormwater released a littany of issues.  You definitely need to familiarize yourself with this local concern before you touch it.  

Good luck.  

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