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grass on concrete, and raising soil level around tree

So my rear garden is a bit of an eye sore. It has multiple levels of patio with the final level being a horrible concrete base. And the in the corner I have a large oak with an area of bark/wood chip beneath it.

For the patio area I'm wanting to extend some decking out as far as the concrete base to eliminate so many levels. But what I'm wondering is can I lay a lawn down on the concrete if I put a good 6 inches of soil down? Will it just end up a big bog?

The for the tree area I was hoping to create a raised bed with a pond and some shade loving shrubs. But will raising the soil level around the tree be a bad thing? Probably about a foot higher.

Any input or alternative ideas welcome 


  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,219
    Big job there.
    Raising the soil round a tree trunk is not a good idea. It would kill the tree.
  • Dougy.bDougy.b Posts: 11
    Here's a little 3d model of what I was planning. Just because I was bored lol.
    Walls will be rendered smooth and painted  Everything has been pressure washed so looking a lot cleaner than the pics I posted. 
    Shed/garage to go at the bottom right. 
  • Dougy.bDougy.b Posts: 11
    Berghill said:
    Big job there.
    Raising the soil round a tree trunk is not a good idea. It would kill the tree.
    That's what I was worried about. Oh well back to the drawing board for that section 
  • Dave HumbyDave Humby Posts: 1,145
    You could shutter off the immediate area around the tree so it does not come into contact with the soil. There was an image on the forum recently with exactly that.

    As for grass on top of the concrete base I’m afraid that would be a recipe for disaster. 
  • a1154a1154 Posts: 1,076
    It’s your garden and have what you want, but I wouldn’t have either decking or grass in that area. You could put big raised beds on the concrete, and with a bit of thought rationalise the levels, so you just have the steps or walkways where you want them, the rest raised beds. There are so few plants in your model though, that I guess planting is not what you are thinking of. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,336
    Someone was very fond of concrete blocks, what a peculiar mix of levels, but I think a1154 is right, you could rationalise the levels nearer the house to a decent sized terrace. Decking is cheap but it has lots of disadvantages - rats and debris underneath, slimy slippery surface when wet..there are a few decking related posts on here you could look up for the pros and cons. 

    For the tree area, it looks like it slopes toward the front, so you could safely raise it to the same level as the lowest bit of the exposed base of the the trunk - get a plank and a spirit level to see the maximum amount you could raise it. Looks a bit small for a pond though, why not build a freestanding one somewhere on the concrete if a pond takes your fancy?

    There is a good choice of plants that could take the dry shade under the tree.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Dougy.bDougy.b Posts: 11
    a1154, No, not many plants in the model. Simply because I don't know what I want just yet (and the model was sooo time consuming lol) Although I'm not the most green fingered so not looking at having loads. 

    The decking and grass area were to keep it relatively child friendly and having space to entertain, although it seems grass may not be a great option unless I dig away the concrete. I was thinking of having some raised beds along the right hand wall, and there is also an area next to the existing shed on the left for either more potted plants or a raised bed (next to the kitchen so lots of herbs) .

    I only rent so I'm a bit limited to how extreme I can go in regards to smashing up the concrete  

    Nollie, I don't know what they were thinking with this garden. Utter madness. I like your idea to bring the soil level next to the path to be level with the base of the tree, although agreed it wouldn't leave enough room for a pond but would definitely tidy that area up. 

    Dave Humby  I also saw a similar idea somewhere else, I think they called it a dry well. I thought as much re the grass on concrete.
  • a1154a1154 Posts: 1,076
    Ah OK. Well first thing to do is ask the landlord for a bit of money to sort it out, as you don’t want to be spending lots of money and leaving it for someone else.  I’m a landlord and I would say yes. Doesn’t hurt to ask. 
    Think about the raised bed in the middle to divide the space and make sense of the levels. On the nasty bits, gravel down and a table and chairs, and look into a soft surface or something you can put play bark on (not sure how old the kids are). Between these 2 areas where the level changes, put a decking rail in. It’s all possible, but start with deciding the budget and talking to the landlord. 
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 Posts: 5,150
    I can't advise on the building aspect of your project, but I think that in this situation artificial grass might be the best solution for a bit of child friendly green space.
    If you built raised beds around the perimeter of the green bit on the computer plan it might hold in a bed of sand to lay it on, and block off the drop to the path at the side if you have toddlers. 

    You could leave the side bordering the decking open for full access, or maybe continue the raised beds and leave a gap in the middle as an entrance with a step. Planting up the raised beds would help blur the lines between the differing levels.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,653
    Your plan looks very nice but, unless you have a very long lease and signed contract I wouldn't spend any money on decking or other major improvements.   Hire a pressure washer to clean up the slabs and concrete then use the existing slabbed area as your entertaining area with table, chairs, BBQ etc and look at putting chipped bark or some other child friendly surface down on the concrete or just leave it as a place to kick or bounce balls depending on teh age of the children - table tennis?  basket/netball hoop?  

    Putting a pond under a big deciduous tree is not too clever as the falling leaves will rot in the pond and encourage algae to form.  If you want to encourage wildlife I would buy some troughs - builders' merchants sell big containers for mixing concrete and plaster and are much cheaper than garden centres and DIYs - and plant some pollinator friendly plants which can be cheap annuals or longer living perennials.  When/if you move you can then take your plants with you. 

    Set up some bird feeders too and wait to see what comes.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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