What to do with ugly slab of concrete patio??

misslori(z5 Nebraska)August 6, 2006

I am soon moving into a house that has an unattractive contrete slab patio in the backyard. How does one go about getting rid of something like this? Or is there a creative way to make it look more attractive somehow?

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Two things. First, it bugs you to see it, Second, moving has lots of expenses,this project might come rather far down the list of priorities. SO.. Id try to disguise it inexpensively for the moment and give it some thought. What would you put there? Long for more lawn? Then its got to come out. How ever, some folks cover the face of this type of thing with stone or better yet brick, because you allready have some, to make a little garden room. Id go for the garden room. Buy some shrubs,and PERRENIALS. Dont put $$$ into bedding plants that will die at first freeze this late in the season. Cluster them around the outer edges, in big lovely mixed plant containers.(if you can make the plants cover over the sides of the container, you can leave them in big black tubs and save hundereds of dollars for the moment, although you might want to get some really BIGGER tubs so the plants have room to grow, especially in the ones toward the middle which dont show.) Make sure there are tall things, mid range, and trailers in each tub. Then cluster short combinations around that to make a layered look. If you wanted to make it like a cool little happy hour spot, or retreat, you could add some type of discrete strong post, pole, or what ever, around the edge, and string some little lanterns or twinkly lights, or hanging candle holders. You might want an out door reading nook, in which case, one source of light would need to be bright enough that you could read under it in the dark. I found a round lantern that looks like rice paper, that is actually very fine synthetic, and its been on my deck over my chair for 2 years. Its tempting to put a project off because you dont want to buy expensive furniture, art for the garden walls, etc, I would go inexpensivly, by shopping at some of the big box stores, as well as the furnishing sections of discounters like Ross, TJ max, and even, if you can bring your self to it, Wall mart. They have great cheep candle holders etc. Yes, you do have to search through all the junk to find the one or two that dont look Cheep! I think you can both disguise the area, and enjoy it, pretty inexpensively, while you decide what you want for the long term. Especially if you dont buy any plants or furnishings that you wouldn't want to keep in the final plan. By the way, I know this is going to get laughed out of dodge in this forum, but a couple of summers ago, Marth Stewarts magazine had a wonderfull article about making garden rooms by arranging potted plants, and she stuck the pole for the lights to hang from into the biggest pots in the arrangements, (a cup hook attached into the POle,it must have been wood) It looks like a short hop to something really lovely, if you use the opportunity.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 1:23PM
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My first thought was a garden room. If the color of the concrete is too harsh, you could stain it with concrete stain.

What are the dimensions of the shed? I wonder if that slab was put in for a shed, but a former owner never got around to completing the project.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 2:51PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

It looks like it was a pad for a storage shed at one time, because of its location at the back of the lot.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 5:33PM
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maro(z8 WA)

Any kids? Do kids still play hopscotch?


    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 6:14PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

First, ask yourself if you really want to go to that spot and do something in your yard. If not, tear out the concrete or just leave it, it doesn't look that bad. If you do want to do something additional in your yard, think of this patio as a base or room to do that in. Would you like a storage or potting shed there? A play area for kids? A secluded area to hang out? A workspace? A place to sneak a nap? A base for an elaborate sculpture? A playhouse for the kids? Beehives? Those are one I could think of quickly. What else would you like to do in your yard. Looks like it is good sized. You could buy one of those metal frames they put big screen tents over that are all the rage now--instant garden room.

But if you can't think of anything your really truly want, don't dress it up just because it is "there." Don't throw good money after bad.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 4:57PM
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misslori(z5 Nebraska)

It's sunny most of the time back there, so I probably wouldn't want to spend much time there. I'm not really interested in a shed. A pool or pond would be nice, but both would need to be above ground. So...unless I can disguise it with plants, I'd probably want to tear it out. Has anyone had any experience with this? Is there equipment I can rent? It's just me, so I may have to hire someone.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 5:14PM
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We wanted to get rid of a basketball hoop years ago at another house..... HUGE concrete pad over 4 feet deep!!?? We're in Va where the frost line is like 14". We did not investigate the depth before renting a jack hammer to get rid of it. DH said it can't be that deep....Bad move. My husband and I took turns on the jackhammer all day long, thank heaven the neighbors became intrigued. Finally, after 3 days, lots of lemonade and fit neighbors we got it out.

Lesson: find out the depth first to see if it is worth the fight. If this is not your final house, leave it for the next person who might want to put a shed there.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 7:39PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Sledge hammers and Spud bars. Great way to take out agression. That is if it is not 4'deep!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 9:21PM
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bhrost(zone 5 NY)

If it is in a sunny spot why not put in one of those clothes hangers or lines that telescopes out and folds up. It could probably be fastened in with masonry anchors - all you'd need is a drill and a masonry bit. It's an energy saver.

To make the slab more decorative paint it terra cotta or brick colored with an outdoor paint. Then use painters tape to create "mortar joints" and paint these gray. This could be done for $30 or $40 and no backbreaking labor or a ton of debris to carry off.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 5:08PM
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misslori(z5 Nebraska)

It's a sunny area of the yard...what if I was to perhaps surround the concrete slab with rocks or timbers, add some fill dirt and make a little garden? Maybe add a centerpiece birdbath or something similar. Are there particular plants that would grow well in a fairly shallow bed like that? Or would it be just too shallow to keep anything alive in?

(Cant' wait to move in and get to work on that lawn as well!)

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    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:01AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I think one of the key pieces of information here is that you don't live here yet and so might not be entirely certain how you're going to use the space. You might surprise yourself and find that you need a spot to put a chair to admire your work in the garden, for instance.

It looks to me too as if the patio attached to the house gets a fair bit of shade. This is no doubt welcome in the summer, and is where you'll spend your time. But in early spring and late fall, perhaps that slab is where the first and last bit of sun finds your garden as it changes its angle in the sky, and you'll want to sit there for morning coffee. Or maybe not! Point is, wait and see.

People go to huge expense to put in hard surfaces for sitting, container gardening, storage, and so on. I wouldn't remove one without trying out several ways of using it first, including your option of a flower bed, though I'd put a flower bed almost anywhere else in that yard first. You could make it look a darn sight nicer with a pattern and concrete stain; see if you can find some old postings here by Punamytsike on that subject. It might eventually strike you as a great spot to build a pergola and grow grapes or flowering vines.

It could seriously enhance the view you have of your yard from your patio or your house.

I think if it were mine I would buy a patio umbrella and stand, and stick it out there for your first summer. Maybe a cheap resin chair as well, and a couple of big plastic planters. And see what happens. Watch how the light and shade move across the space. See what "stuff" you end up having to deal with while living in this house and what you need space for. Then you will know how best to spend larger amounts on removal, furnishing, decorating, building, or planting it up.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 2:39AM
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I agree, live with it for awhile and wait to see how you use the yard. Heck, you might decide that a garden shed would be just the ticket... and then you have a foundation already poured for you!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 9:27AM
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