Plants aren’t the only part of a landscape that needs ongoing maintenance. Hardscapes can also suffer wear and tear at the hands of Mother Nature. Since most hardscape items are put away or covered up for the winter, they are out of sight, out of mind until you open them up for the season, only to find that you have to take precious fair weather time to make repairs.
Take a tip from the professionals and use winter wisely to do needed maintenance so you can get a running start in spring as soon as the last frost melts. Sure, it’s only the middle of February but that famous rodent didn’t see his shadow, which means spring could come early. If the weather runs true to form, we’ll start seeing more good days than bad. Not enough to go out and buy new flowering plants but enough for you to start preparing your non-growing items.
Removable fabric furniture covers like cushion or pillow coverings should be removed in the fall, regardless of whether you store the furniture inside or outside. These fabrics should be laundered sometime during the winter. After a season outside, they are sure to have picked up dust and dirt, and if they’ve gotten wet, they may have mold or mildew that needs to be taken care of.
The best way to begin your hardscape maintenance is to make a plan. Jot down all the hardscape maintenance tasks that await you. Then prioritize them. Which ones can you do in the garage or shed? Which need good weather because they have to be done outside?
Jobs that can be done in the garage or shed may include cleaning and servicing the gas grill. Painting, upholstering or repairing furniture may also be done inside. This should be work for rainy or snowy weekends. Save the outside jobs like masonry repairs or fixing the water feature for better weather. By gathering all the material and tools you’ll need before starting any project, you can decide on each weekend’s work at the last minute. If something has to dry or cure, be sure to check the weather forecast for the few days following the weekend to be sure you have enough time.
If your patio pavers need leveling, try to hold that off until March or even early April when you’re pretty confident that the frost threat has passed., Heaving caused by frost may be one of the reasons why the patio needs leveling.
All during the winter, it’s a good idea to keep your deck or patio free of ice and snow. This can reduce the need for repairs. Minor snowfalls are best removed with a broom, rather than a shovel. For heavier snowfalls in which shoveling is needed, use a plastic, rather than metal, shovel. This will reduce the chance of scratching the deck or patio surface.
Avoid chemical deicers like salt that can leave stains and pit the surface. If you really need to melt ice, try cat litter. It’s much less abrasive.