Winter Care Tips for Hardscapes
Maintaining residential landscapes in winter goes beyond caring for cold-sensitive plants and shrubs. Hardscapes including flagstone patios, brick walkways, and concrete driveways need some love too, especially with our severe winter weather here in the Rock Valley and Sioux City, Iowa regions.
Rugged hardscapes might seem tough enough to stand up to a little cold and rain but persistent rains, snow, and Arctic-like freezing can do a number on even the most stalwart of surfaces. Here are some expert tips to ensure a long and happy life for your property’s hardscapes.
Seal Those Cracks
A hairline crack is all it takes to spell doom for your driveway or revered paver patio. Water will find its way into the smallest of openings, expanding 9 percent when frozen, and repeating this scenario month after month after year turns a little fissure into a crevasse.
Fill cracks with an applicable sealant as soon as you see them and do it before the first frost. It’s also a good idea to remove renegade weeds sprouting between stones or from cracks; small weeds become big weeds and can pry apart stone if left to their own devices.
De-icing your driveway or pathways is an annual rite of passage in the Rock Valley, Iowa area and while it’s good for keeping you upright on the way to the car, harsh chemicals are a death knell for plants and also cause damage to concrete, wood decks, and other hardscape surfaces. Traditional sodium-based products can rapidly deteriorate stone and concrete; use calcium-based, natural rock salt, or sand instead to keep your hardscapes looking their best.
Plan a Fix-It List
That stubborn patio flagstone keeps wiggling out of position and you keep meaning to fix it but the deck railing is loose and the boulder retaining wall is listing toward the neighbor’s yard. There’s a lot to do but be disciplined and focus on damaged or failing stones, pavers, bricks, or deck boards. Harsh weather relentlessly punishes outdoor hardscapes and a small repair today could become an enormous and expensive project in the spring.
A tried and true strategy is to start at the tail end of fall when most or all of the leaves are down. Clear leaves and sticks and other debris from decks, patios, and walkways; compressed piles of leaves are especially adept at leaving unsightly stains on outdoor surfaces. Natural seams between flagstone and brick are also likely locations to collect debris; clean them out with a broom or blower.
Don’t Wait for it to Melt
It might not be your favorite outdoor activity but as soon as the snow stops falling, grab a shovel. Clear snow from all hardscape surfaces before it has time to melt and re-freeze, making walking hazardous and preventing water from seeping into porous stone materials.
Be choosy with your shovel too. Aluminum or metal can wreak havoc on stone surfaces or your newly stained deck; go with plastic or rubber-edged shovels for best results.
For more expert tips and strategies, contact the team at Outdoor Elements today at (712) 476-5299.