Planting Grass on Concrete – Part 1

One of my ‘must haves’ when buying my home was an enclosed backyard. I have a dog that needed his space and I was tired of having to make midnight trips outside when he needed to ‘go’.

It’s funny, looking back, all the big things in the house aren’t as important now; the pretty kitchen, large bedrooms, and walk in closet. They’re nice, but the things I love the most are having a garage instead of a car port (or parking spot), having personal trash cans instead of having to use apartment dumpsters…

…but best of all is having a backyard for my dog to enjoy throughout the day.


He sure loves his grass…


The backyard is large and enclosed with a full size locking gate, perfect for the pup. The only problem is that it’s entirely concrete, with exception of the sides by the fence. You can see the weeds growing in the picture above, this is what it looked like when I purchased the home.

My first reaction was to remove a few sections of the concrete and plant sod. However, that would require HOA approval and ‘design approval’…which is code for give us several hundred dollars and we’ll review your plans. Not only would it cost hundreds to have them review construction landscaping plans, it was going to cost at least another grand to remove the concrete since it would require damages to a shared retaining wall.

I needed a low-cost fix that would not require invasive construction to the existing surfaces.

I needed to grow grass on concrete, so I began brainstorming and came up with the idea of a traditional planter. A traditional product used in an unconventional way. Perfect.

2011-04-02 17.00.18

I sketched plans for a design that would provide both grass and a built-in planter. This was the first planter we built, it’s about 4 feet by 6 feet. However, it was too small and didn’t give the pup enough room. So a second planter was needed, this one needed to be much bigger. In the below picture you can see the smaller planter on the right (just about cropped out of the picture). The grass in that planter has since been ripped up and needs to be redone, but we’ll touch on that in a few weeks.

Both planters were built using 2 x 6 boards, it was a simple construction and only cost about $50. Since it was so large, it was built-in two pieces which you can see in the picture. They meet in the middle and the grass was planted over those center boards so it will look like one large planter.

It took 8 bags of potting soil to fill the 4 foot by 14 foot planter.

First step was to fill the planter with potting soil. We left the back empty because we will be installing sprinklers and we need it accessible for now. Some may spill out of the bottom, you can easily sweep this away.

We packed the potting soil then topped it with a dirt made specifically for sod to give it the best chance of surviving.

We took extra time to break up the chunks and pack it down so that the dirt is even when laying the sod. I’m not going to lie, this was a lot of work. It would have been easier with the special sod tools, but I like to save a buck so we used a rubber mallet and some cardboard. It worked pretty well.

So before you look at the picture below, I will tell you that I didn’t buy enough sod. I know…stupid, right? So it looks a little off, and it’s clear to all that I can’t add.

If you can get past the missing grass section, it turned out really well. To give it time to root, I roped off the planter with the twine so that the dog couldn’t kill it right away.

Then I planted some seed in the middle since I didn’t have any more sod. This was after about a week. It’s there, I swear…just look really close.

…and set up a temporary sprinkler to keep everything wet since the temps were about 100 degrees.

It’s been almost a month since planting the grass and I have to say it looks great. Baby grass is still growing in the center section, and it looks like I may need to mow soon. For now, Baxter loves laying in the long grass and rolling around.

Next Grass Planter Projects (planned over the next few weeks):

  • Planting sod in the second, smaller planter
  • Installing a sprinkler system in both planters
  • Planting flowers along the back of both planters.

Here’s a hint of the flowers.

Oh, and because I’m so proud of my veggie-licious garden…here is an updated picture of the corn. You can see the other post about the corn, here!

I have 5 ears growing!!!


Linking To: Between Naps on the Porch, Not JUST a Housewife, The Girl Creative, Making the World Cuter, Savvy Southern Style, We Are THAT Family, Ginger Snap Crafts, Blue Cricket Design, Very Merry Vintage Style, Shabby Creek Cottage, Beyond The Picket FenceRemodelaholic, Addicted 2 DecoratingThe Crafty NestOhh Baby DesignsThe Shabby Nest, French Country Cottage, Funky Junk Interiors, Thrifty Decor Chick

27 responses

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  3. Wow! When we were looking for a house here in Pittsburgh, we rejected so many where the entire yard had been paved, thinking what a hassle it would be to remove all that concrete. It never occurred to us to plant on top of it!

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  8. That looks lovely. I was actually moving to a new place with a small patio in front of our condo. I want a place for my rabbits to dig up and eat grass and this is so perfect. Thank you for sharing your idea!

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  10. I wonder how your grass is doing almost a year later? We are just about to purchase a home with a LOT of concrete and I am researching ways to make it more natural.

    • I’ve actually pulled up the grass and will be replacing it with a faux grass, but that’s not because it didn’t grow. In fact, it was growing GREAT but a combination of the 100+ summer heat and my dog using it, killed it. I swapped out the sod a few times, but I couldn’t keep up with the dog or the heat. That’s the only reason I’m looking to swap it out, otherwise it was thriving in the planters.

      • With your reply I feel more comfortable trying the sod. I will bookmark your blog to see how the faux sod works as well. I have read people really like it and it is always green, never needs mowing or water. Another great alternative. Wondering how your dog will take to it. We have a kitty that LOVES her grass. Thanks for the reply and the original post.

  11. Hi.. thanks for sharing.. i also wish to have this but without removing the concrete.. would like to ask how thick is the soil that you have put in ? 1 inche is it enough ? thanks..

    • Amazing that’s great I’m going to try the same thing . Was also thinking fake grass but just skeptical that our dog wouldn’t pee on it.


  12. I am going to follow your tutorial and do this as well! My only question is.. I’ll be doing this in a patio in my apt… is this feasible to have chairs outside or for humans to sit on?

  13. Did you have any problem with drainage? I live this idea, but I wonder if the grass ever got too saturated from lack of drainage.

  14. I wonder about the drainage my self .My daughter wants to follow this idea on her back yard concrete for a while .Thanks for sharing this info .We will follow up ,let us know how it.s doing.

  15. Hi there, just wondering whether your lovely green space has stayed well since your last post. I’m keep to do the same, but have read on several other forums that it won’t keep. Cheers

  16. I love it!! I’ve been looking for something like this! My dog love’s to do her business in the backyard, but cleaning the concrete is so difficult!! I’ll definitely try this. Greeting from México!!

  17. You and I have a LOT in common! I love doing projects and my #1 dream is to have a home with a backyard for my 3 🐶🐶🐶❤️❤️❤️… Until that dream comes true… I’ve been researching exactly what you just did here! Thank you for the ❤️ You have For our fur babies and the article that just made my dream come that much closer to us! 🙋🐶🐶🐶

  18. Super Genious! My Pup loves lawns/grass…will actually roll on the best lawns in the neighborhood and avoid others which has made me aware of the better types of grass on lawns. I too was thinking that I would have to remove concrete, but your idea is excellent. Great for your dog, but also really nice for you as it gives such a “nature look” to your place and with the added flowers (another great idea ’cause I kept thinking at first, why the empty back part of the square?). In all honesty, I like green grass/lawns, it’s relaxing and brings nature, like a park, just a few steps away. I too love my dogs and the effort you put in, shows you really do too which is so great. Thank you for sharing!

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