Zero-Spend Garden: Side Planting Beds – Need Ideas!

So, there used to be planting beds on the East and North sides of our garage – but the pervious owners of the house filled them in with concrete. Though that prevented me from planting anything pretty – it did not prevent weeds from coming up between the cracks…


Well once we got rid of all the weeds – the patio area started to look very… concrete-y, in other words, grey and blah.

I added a window box with some of Laurie’s impatients, but it didn’t seem like enough…


I noticed that the concrete filling in the old flower beds was actually quite cracked and broken up. With a little prying with my trusty spade shovel, I discovered I could actually pull up the concrete covering the beds quite easily!

Underneath, I found rich dirt ready for planting!!


I need your help!

1) I feel like I should be able to use this concrete for something in another part of the garden, but I’m not sure how to use it… it’s a little ugly to be used for a bed border, which was my first instinct. Anyone else have any ideas? Anyone want it?

2) If I don’t find a use for it, anyone know how you’re supposed to dispose of concrete like that in the city? Can I just throw it away?

3) What uber-shade-loving plants should I plant in these beds? We don’t really need more ivy – the South side of the garage is already covered, and though lovely, I don’t feel the need to add more. I’d like something with some height – but it can’t get too bushy or it will impede the walkway… maybe some decorative grass? Any flowers ideas?

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4 thoughts on “Zero-Spend Garden: Side Planting Beds – Need Ideas!

  1. Katie,
    You might consider ferns, which might grow straight up, depending on the kind of fern. You might be able to find someone with extras, as they tend to grow in big bunches.
    On the low end, some flowering ground cover like periwinkle might be nice. But my favorite is impatients, which you might find cheap this time of year. They flower all summer and would look beautiful against the brick!

  2. What a great idea to dig out the old concrete. I agree impatients would look beautiful and they are so easy to grow. I don’t know much about shade loving grasses, but I found a site that lists some. They don’t grow as tall as the sun loving grasses, but come in a lot of varieties.
    You might also think about planting monkey grass.
    It’s an attractive border plant that’s easy to grow and quite hardy. It would fit nicely in the space you have and comes in a lot of varieties. Look for ones that prefer shade to sun. Here are some photos:
    Alas, I’m not sure what you could do with the old concrete although it might look more attractive if it was stacked (sort of like a rock wall). Perhaps you could create a raised planter area in a corner of your yard and disguise the concrete front with some ferns, ornamental grass or monkey grass.

    1. Wow Laurie! Thanks for all those links! Great info on grass! Good idea about the concrete wall. Jake and I may have had a breakthrough this weekend on how to use that stone. I don’t want to spoil the surprise of that post though! We’ve got a couple projects to do first – but look for it in a month or so!

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