Asked on Apr 20, 2016

How can I make this uneven eyesore in my backyard appealing?

by Genevieve
This is one of the corners in my backyard. It's an oval shape around the back of my house, but with corners in some spots. It's weird! I've been told the corner had a couple of palm trees that have since died. The ground is uneven (sort of a hill) with rocks underground. (I'm in San Antonio, TX where the soil is limestone). Yes, that is an apartment complex behind the fence. I've given up trying to hide that aspect, as that doesn't bother me as much as that darn corner. I don't have much of a green thumb. I do however love color. I am in desperate need of some ideas as to how to make the eyesore fun and exciting. You are ALL so wonderful and creative. I am a NEWBIE and am appreciative of any feedback!
q how can i make this uneven eyesore appealing , gardening, landscape, This is my view from my chair on our deck The patio door to the house is behind me
This is my view from my chair on our deck. The patio door to the house is behind me.
  20 answers
  • Carol  Van Aardt Carol Van Aardt on Apr 21, 2016
    How about concreting or paving the area, add pots of cactus, grasses and plant creapers to grow up the walls - make a grid for it with nails and wire to climb up. Then add your outdoor table and chairs, unbrella or similar and barbeque.... Outdoor entertainment area!

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 21, 2016
      Thank You Carol Van Aardt! Is putting in a concrete slab difficult? It would be nearly impossible (without machinery) to level the ground.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 21, 2016
    I would start by marking off the area by creating a shape. If you are going to use this as a seating area base the shape on how big your patio set is.Put an outdoor colorful carpet in the area as to draw the eye away from the wall.Once that is complete you can use various pots against the wall in all different heights and plant according to your hardiness zone.

  • Sarah Sarah on Apr 21, 2016
    I would probably try to stain your concrete wall the color of your existing fence. Maybe if you could afford to pour a concrete pad and make this a seating area and grilling area. Plant some flowers in containers and brighten up that spot, you have so many options. There are people on here that have some great ideas, explore all your options before making a decision. Enjoy!!!!! Have a Blessed Day. Share with us photos when you have it completed, please.

  • Rebecca Platt Rebecca Platt on Apr 21, 2016
    Agree about staining concrete wall. If you don't want to spend the money on a concrete patio, how's about doing what Janet said. Create a shape by using in-ground edging and then filling in area with bark or crushed rock or some kind. You could place inexpensive pavers to lead to the seating area. Could also line outside edge with a low-growing flower. Whatever you do use a lot of color and no one will notice the apartment building.

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 21, 2016
      Not sure if you got my previous reply?!? What type stain/color should I use? It looks like the fence around it was painted. Would I want to paint it??

  • Connie K Connie K on Apr 21, 2016
    If you are trying to beautify the area without the heavy labor or expense that leveling, etc. would incur then I would suggest turning it into a focal point. First, decide how you want to use the area. Is it to be a beautiful focal area to enhance your view of your yard or do you need seating, an eating area or entertaining space. If it is to be an eating area then more work and leveling would be required. As you stated, its a hill, or mound, and rocky so a rock garden would be perfect. And there are so many different styles of rock gardens; Asian, English Country, Cactus, dry creek bed, and many more. First, do some homework. Go online and look at lots of pictures and decide on a look that you like. Start by deciding the shape of the area that appeals to you. I think an irregular shape with some curves would be pretty, instead of a circle, square, or rectangle. It would also allow you to manage the contours of the area more easily. The fact that this is a corner area is a plus as you can use art, paint, plantings, etc., anything you prefer to accent the wall and fence backdrop. After you have chosen a design style you like, get information regarding plants that will work in your climate without requiring a lot of watering and upkeep. You will probably have more choices than you may think. Don't forget, when deciding on your plants, to check the height and width at maturity as well as the growth rate. You don't want to find yourself, in three years, with a plant that is twice the size you wanted or that is still small and has only grown a few inches. Groundcover plants are beautiful in focal beds. I especially like the low growing, spreading type such as ice plant, thyme, mazus, Creeping Jenny, Blue Star Creeper and many more. has lots of ground covers that hold up to light foot traffic and are terrific placed between pavers or stepping stones. Don't forget about artwork in this area, perhaps a fountain, birdbath, or statuary. You will see lots of ideas for that online when you are looking for your design. There are so many great ideas here on Hometalk and is a fantastic site for any inside or outside decorating project. I just quickly checked Houzz and their landscape section with a search of "rock garden" and the number of photos is immense with all different styles and lots of great idea. I hope this helps to give you some ideas and at least a starting point.

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 21, 2016
      Thank You Connie K!! Thank you so much for taking the time to research and share your suggestions/ideas with me!! They are ALL wonderful! Now where to start...

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Apr 21, 2016
    I would paint the wooden fence a grey to match the concrete. Then I would plant a flowing evergreen tree with a wide spread in the corner or maybe plant 3 crepe myrtles in the corner. Even bamboo would be pretty, just don't get the invasive kind. Then you could plant some hardy plants in front of that along with some in huge decorative planters. Set some colorful Adirondack chairs around. The stones that you are able to move out of the yard could be placed around and/or in the flower bed. Enjoy!

  • Beth Beth on Apr 21, 2016
    This area is screaming for a patio or decking with seating. I would set up the seating so you face a fire focal point and away from the apartment building. I would paint or stain the concrete wall a bright color (think teal, yellow, orange) and make it a focal point instead of an eyesore. Good luck!

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 21, 2016
      Thank You Beth! I think the fence is painted. What type/brand of paint should I use? I have never painted concrete. How far down on either side of the corner would you go? I'm assuming I would paint part of the fence too??

  • Beth Beth on Apr 21, 2016
    Sherwin Williams make a good concrete stain. I think stain holds up better than paint. I don't think you have to paint the fence; the dark makes a nice contrast. Plus, it matches your deck nicely.

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 21, 2016
      Thank You Beth! Do you have any suggestions for the ground? I love the idea of a grilling area (hint hint, husband might get interested) and seating. It is so uneven! Oh, I found some turquoise outdoor paint (love bright, fiesta colors) that is FREE, could that work on wood and concrete? It sure would jazz it up a bit.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 21, 2016
    Color will definitely work for you . If you decide on going with painting the concrete wall,just make sure you purchase the correct paint for outdoors(and it is for concrete).

  • Barbara Reed Barbara Reed on Apr 21, 2016
    I also love the fiesta colors and think that's a good idea. Then I would make a raised planter. You would only need to level the front where you place your bricks. Then you can bring in some good planting soil for a tree and some shrubs

  • Cathy Cathy on Apr 21, 2016
    Looks to me like you have the start of a rock garden---why not add to it and put some perennials in amongst them--maybe create a corner bench with the chiminea as the reason to have that back in that corner. Saw here on Hometalk where someone had created bench with cement blocks that they spray painted bright colors and put bright cushions on the bench--if you put it against the wall in the corner, you already have your back support---but a wooden one could easy be built there in that corner---maybe even using pallets.

  • Cathy Cathy on Apr 21, 2016
    Also, I think it would be fun to have a mural painted on that concrete wall----maybe even ask if an art class would like to come do it.

  • Cathy Cathy on Apr 21, 2016
    Another idea, create a fairy garden or little town there amongst the rocks--that would be fun!

  • Rebecca Platt Rebecca Platt on Apr 22, 2016
    Genevieve, I would try to stain the wall the same color as the fence. If you paint the concrete it will just peel in the sun.. Your local hardware store can give you advice about what type of stain. I would think you would use an oil-based stain. You will need to clean the fence if you plan on re-staining it which I would certainly do.

  • Carol  Van Aardt Carol Van Aardt on Apr 23, 2016
    You would need to ask some local handy men for advice. If you mix sand, stone and cement to make the wet mix concrete, I would try to get a wire mesh to pour the concrete over and smooth as best you can. The wire is for strength, but not sure if thats needed for this application. Then you could get self levelling cement if the surface is uneven - you pour the wet mix over the dry surface and leave it overnight & it levels itself off! Then you should probably seal it so that its easy to clean.... Just make sure you are aware of where & how to plan drainage. Do ask at your local hardware store - most people are very happy to give advice.

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 23, 2016
      WOW! I don't think I am anywhere near ready to take something like that on!! I think I could do pebbles or Ive been hearing about this rubber mulch. I'm thinking about using the space for a fire pit/grill/small seating area. Now I have to figure out the ground. You are TOO sweet with you interest and suggestions!!

  • Black Hills Rosie Black Hills Rosie on Apr 24, 2016
    Does the city offer mulch? We can buy a pickup load of compost here for $15 that can be used for mulch and it will decay into the ground, helping make it more welcoming for almost anything that will be planted. Rubber mulch, I suspect, would become just another mess to clean up in a few years and not do anything good for your soil. Also, you will want shade of some sort, maybe just a yard type umbrella or even a small arbor. . . Hope you have fun with your project.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Apr 25, 2016
    Do not paint concrete...stain it...they make a stain for it. Paint will peel if it holds moisture. As for the lumpy space, make it into a special feature in your yard. Clean out the rubble, rake it as smooth as you can get it. Put down some landscaping cloth in a pretty shape and cover it in and red are pretty. Be sure and anchor your cloth firmly at the edges. Make a trench between the straw and the grass so you can keep it trimmed. Then set some pretty pots and yard items around. Some shepherd's poles with some hanging baskets. A pretty bench or a couple of comfortable chairs (they make those inexpensive plastic ones in colors now)? A couple of pretty LED lights? You have that Chimenea already. Later you can add a small pergula and curtains for privacy!

    • Genevieve Genevieve on Apr 25, 2016
      That's GREAT!! I'm gathering so many ideas. I love your ground cover, chairs and chimenea set up! I'm getting closer! Thank you!!

  • Sharolyn Blacketor Sharolyn Blacketor on Apr 28, 2016
    Go to the effort of planting a tree. Something native to your area that would get 20-30 feet tall in the corner of your lot. Or get clumping bamboo to hide the neighbors. Definitely stain the concrete, very easy. Start with a small sections -about 4ft by 4ft. Do a section every few weeks. Dug the soil and pull any rocks (free landscape edging) and amend your soil and plant. You learn what works and small sections are easier to manage. In a year it will be beautiful.

  • Vic C. Vic C. on Apr 28, 2016
    Hi Genevieve, I like the idea of having a small decking patio with some chairs, a table with umbrella! And I understand that your ground are mostly limestone which make it harder for ground leveling. So, I did some research to find if there's an easier way to build a deck without much digging and stuff, and lucky you I found these videos! & You could then lay down some nice, durable deck tiles like this on the structure as a finishing. Price for the Wood Deck Tiles 12"x 12"per box of 12 tiles from Amazon is around $122.90 (excluding shipment cost) ]: So, check it out if you could do this and share with us your final finished project! Good luck! :) Vic C.

  • Carol  Van Aardt Carol Van Aardt on Apr 29, 2016
    Yes, decking is a great idea, but probably more expensive than the concrete. We did that, but its more costly to lay, however drainage wouldnt be a problem because the wood is in strips with gaps between.