Can I put a layer of cedar mulch over a cracked concrete backyard??

by Ayana

Working on fixing up my elderly parents backyard. Next to no budge for this.

The concrete patio is cracked and dingy.

Can I just put a thick layer of mulch on top to make it look more attractive? I am improving it each summer by very small degrees (revitalized garden, planters, pocket garden fence).

Advice is greatly appreciated!

  8 answers
  • Dfm Dfm on Jun 18, 2019

    I see no reason why you can’t, it will break down a bit, just make sure to get enough mulch that it’s cushioning the walking.

  • Jlnatty Jlnatty on Jun 18, 2019

    Sure you can, but you'll have to put some kind of edging in place to make sure it stays in place. And if you get leaves or twigs from surrounding trees or plantings, be prepared to change the mulch out every year, otherwise it won't look very nice after a season. Also, mulch won't keep weeds down that are popping up along your concrete fault lines and cracks. Be prepared to use a commercial greenery killer or a homemade weed killer for anything that pops up from underneath the mulch or put down a breathable (porous) landscape fabric before putting down the mulch to keep weeds down. You should still change the mulch out at least every few years, because seeds that birds leave behind as "gifts" or that blow in on the wind will take root and sprout in the deteriorating mulch, unless you use stone for a mulch - which presents a whole separate set of issues. It doesn't take much for a seed to root. Haven't you seen dandelions growing out of cracks in the sidewalks and in blacktopped parking lots!

    • Ellis Ellis on Jun 19, 2019

      I have a lovely blanket of Sweet Woodruff growing out of, and completely covering, a pile of marble chips I raked up and left until I could figure out a use for them. This is going on about 6-7 years for the Sweet Woodruff, so the marble chips will have to stay.

  • William William on Jun 18, 2019

    Why not! You sure can! With barely or no budget that is a good choice. Add a border where there is none to keep it contained.

  • Ellis Ellis on Jun 19, 2019

    How about a pretty flowering vine, like Clematis? They do fairly well in the New York climate. You could plant it in a deep pot, like the size of a half barrel planter, and either let it grow on the chain link fence, or anywhere else in the yard that you need a spot of color, using a cheap trellis ($10-15 in Home Depot) stuck in the pot, or even a large tomato cage. A little bit of an investment, but I have some that have survived multiple years in a planter.

    You just want to plant one like the jackmanii variety, which has fabulous purple flowers all summer. You'd get a lot of color for a small space.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Jun 19, 2019

    You can BUT - no one will be able to see where the cracks are and in time, areas may heave. This can leave you with a potentially dangerous situations where someone may trip and fall. If you make the mulch deep enough and check the condition of the concrete after each winter, you should be fine.

    Additionally, you can plant pots of flowers to put out among the mulch and even put over any large cracks.

    For unwanted plants & weeds please use vinegar or w/ salt added. No need for more chemicals!

  • Rymea Rymea on Jun 19, 2019

    People are saying you can do this but I'm not sold on it. Mulch will wash away in a heavy rain if there is a slope and if there isn't a slope then the mulch would just sit there waterlogged. I see cracked concrete on the right side of the photo. If that isn't a walkway put the plants over it. If it is a doorway you could put pavers over that area which would only raise it by a couple of inches so it would be paved threshold.

    I wish there were more pictures.

  • Ayana Ayana on Jun 19, 2019

    Everyone has been SUPER helpful, thank you! Yes I have more pictures.

    This has been a 2 year project so far - gradually improving the appearance.

    The first 2 are from this year and the next 2 are from 2018.

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  • Huntress Huntress on Jul 07, 2019

    Lowes and Home Depot sell concrete stain. Probably cost same or less than all the mulch you would have to buy. Use a garden sprayer, and alternate colors, will look like slate. You can take a sharpie, permanent marker and make outlines for large irregular "rocks", before you spray. I did it at my last house. Yeah, I know, comes with instructions, but my way was easier and my view is if I spilled some on my concrete, it would dry and be there forever lol.