If your lawn is more ready-mix and rocky than Garden of Eden, accept the landscape challenge: You can make your cement slab of a backyard into a lush and inviting retreat. Create an oasis by treating the existing concrete jungle as a blank canvas for your new garden.
Use large terra cotta or verdigris finished planters, as well as a pair of medium-sized matching planters to flank your back door. Fill them with potting soil and plant dwarf trees, tall ornamental grasses, and a selection of flowering perennials. Plant cooking herbs in your medium-sized pots. Regardless of your regional climate, you can maintain a verdant space year-round with evergreen shrubs in areas with cold winters or succulents in desert environs.
Add a copper fire bowl and curved benches to create a nighttime gathering spot for your friends and family to talk, gaze at the stars, and even toast s'mores. Alternately, you can choose a pergola or market umbrella to make a shady spot for reading and relaxation on a pair of lounge chairs. Select comfortable outdoor furniture suited to the weather of your region so you can enjoy your homey exterior living space.
Embrace the counterintuitive and add more concrete to your backyard in the form of curbing, a curved landscape concrete border that creates a crescent-shaped planting bed. The curbing may be plain, moulded, or even lighted to suit your design. Fill the curbed space with potting soil and bedding plants and top with decorative rock.
Collect a few lanterns to enclose candles for an elegant ambient lighting and place them on a patio table or on the concrete itself. Find outdoor accent pillows in a bright solid or stripe to soften the seating area and make it more inviting. A jar of shells or river stones creates interest and may be a conversation piece, while colourful and shatterproof melamine dishes make dining outside whimsical when paired with a plastic margarita set for a grown-up picnic.