Goodbye Concrete, Hello Urban Garden!

July 19, 2011 by

Natalie June’s daughters enjoying the new garden.

Guest Post by San Diego Urban Gardener, Natalie June.

I have always dreamed of living off the land. I have dreamed of going into my backyard and finding all of the ingredients I need for dinner, canning my own vegetables, making my own pickles, jam and pasta sauce, and sharing my harvest with my neighbors. I think there is something to be said about the good old days, dirt under the nails, and a little labor to produce what a family needs. I don’t live in the country, but that feeling has always been with me.

The new fire pit and raised garden beds.

Our house was built in the 1950s and, although the house has been updated, the little garage that lives in our backyard has seen better days. It always longed to be a garden shed, I just know it. A cement drive goes down one side of our yard leading to this unusable garage and basically the backyard was one big cement driveway. What a waste of space.

Before: The original cement space that June and her boyfriend envisioned as a garden.

Recycling the Concrete Driveway
When my boyfriend suggested we tear out the concrete and build four huge garden boxes, a fire pit and sitting area, it was a dream come true. We never realized though how difficult it was going to be to remove all of the concrete. It was no fun. Concrete dust was everywhere and I don’t think anyone on our street was napping that week. Luckily we were able to recycle it. It was actually cheaper to recycle than to take it to the dump…$50 a ton verses a $700 dump fee. Unfortunately due to a recent decline in home construction, many places are no longer recycling concrete. It would have been a shame for it to have ended up in the landfill.

During: tearing up the concrete, which they recycled, to make way for the garden. Eco-demolition!

Raised Beds and Running Kids
The minute the concrete was out, my daughters started calling our empty dirt spot “The Secret Garden.” They were excited for all the adventures the space would hold. We decided on raised garden beds to protect our veggies from running kids and playing dogs and had them built out of redwood which is said to hold up well with the constant dirt and water contact. We placed four boxes around the edges of the driveway, wide enough for all we wanted, but small enough for me to reach all the way into the center for weeding.

During: Dirt and boxes on way to becoming the garden.

Reaping the Benefits
We planted our first crop the other day, released a few thousand ladybugs into the yard, and now sit patiently waiting. I used to stare out at hard useless concrete from my kitchen window. Now I see so many days in my future filled with joy. I see my girls picking strawberries and helping me make jam. I see nights around the fire-pit making s’mores and connecting with my family. I see vegetables and a healthy home.

The girls partake in cultivating the new garden.

About the Author
Natalie June is a mother dedicated to living as naturally as possible. Visit her online at
All photos by Natalie June.


  1. Kim said:

    What a great creative use of sure beats looking at concrete! May your garden grow.

    — July 20, 2011 @ 08:35

  2. Alondra Miller said:

    Absolutely beautiful. Great idea!! I am so glad you posted this, gives me inspiration to keep trying veggies 🙂

    — July 20, 2011 @ 09:02

  3. Kathy @nativegardener said:

    What a great use of space! It must be so nice to look out & see vegetables growing there now. And being able to share the fun with your daughters.. They’ll have gardens one day. They’ll remember their first one with you and thank you for the experience.

    — July 20, 2011 @ 16:35

  4. Suzy said:

    We too made raised bed and filled them with compost with the front end loader ! Our rhubarb, Italian parsley and bokchoy are thriving. Harder for the bugs to find as well.

    — July 21, 2011 @ 23:52

  5. Sustainable Urban Development said:

    Your beds look great! What a great project to work on with the family! We have an urban farm in West Philadelphia and our beds have been doing great this season. We’ve handed out about 300 pounds of food to the people of Philadelphia. Our goal is to teach the community about nutrition and provide them with healthy food. It’s a great way to get families involved! Good luck with your garden and keep up the great work!

    — July 26, 2011 @ 10:49

  6. Croissant in the City » Bits and Bobbles Pingback said:

    […] Urban Garden Transformation – (Love their garden transformation. Currently daydreaming of my own version.) […]

    — August 1, 2011 @ 14:55

  7. old goat said:

    great garden, inspiring, we’ve tried to make our Montana yard grazing freindly for our two year old

    — August 2, 2011 @ 16:27

  8. Al said:

    Very nice article. This past year I built my own raised bed garden and the veggies have been flowing. Love seeing everyone interested in growing their own.

    — August 30, 2011 @ 01:03

  9. Dan said:

    definitely a great use of space and thinking outside of the box. Thanks for sharing. If everyone who had this option did this can you imagine the net impact? Excellent.

    — September 26, 2011 @ 01:39

  10. Carolyn E-V said:

    Nice work! For others considering a similar approach, you can also cut the concrete into usable chunks or strips (if it isn’t reinforced with a metal mesh) using a rented diamond-blade saw. Reuse these pieces of “urbanite” to construct your beds, firepit, or stepping stones. Keeps it on site and saves the trucking and landfull/recycling fees.

    — January 11, 2012 @ 21:13

  11. seo service said:

    This is exactly what I’m looking for!
    My nice but bared backyard is all concrete floor and concrete block wall.
    I planning on making plant/garden boxes with heavy casters instead of permanently anchor them onto the ground (make sense to move them away from blaring sun, no?).

    — March 11, 2012 @ 14:19

  12. abercrombie paris said:

    La quasi-totalité de ce que vous pointez arrive à être étonnamment précis et qui me fait demander pourquoi je n’avais pas examiné cette question dans cette lumière précédemment. Cette pièce fait vraiment particulier allumer la lumière pour moi autant que ce sujet particulier va.

    — May 5, 2012 @ 02:10

  13. Agen Bola said:

    What a great creative use of sure beats looking at concrete! May your garden grow.

    — August 17, 2012 @ 03:45

  14. Urban gardening: the future of food | EcoPost Pingback said:

    […] with big yields, for example, tomatoes, zucchini and others. If a residence has a patch of land, raised beds are good for growing a lot of different vegetables and ornamental plants at the same time. Such a […]

    — April 17, 2013 @ 05:13

  15. Concrete Contractor said:

    Love what you did on this project! Awesome job.

    — September 23, 2020 @ 14:53

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