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What kind of maintenance does my hardscape require?

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It's easy to think of stone hardscaping as needing little or no maintenance. Patio stones, pavers, retaining walls and sidewalks are made of stout material that seems indestructible compared to wood, dirt and plants. But, the elements still take their toll on your hardscape, and this stonework will deteriorate without proper care.

The good news is hardscaping maintenance isn't difficult. Follow these steps to ensure many years of enjoyment from your outdoor stone.

REGULARLY CLEAN STONE

Keep loose debris off your hardscape. A broom can sweep away most of it on an everyday basis. Regularly spray down stone with a garden hose.

Winter and spring debris, such as fallen leaves, mud and dead grass, can leave stains on your stones particularly when left for several weeks. In most cases, you can remove these stains by scrubbing with a basic water/detergent solution. Pressure washing may be required if you have mold or standing moss.

For oil stains, obtain an oil remover from an automotive or hardware store.
When you're doing all this cleaning, look for damaged stones or pavers. Chips and cracks will quickly get bigger. In most cases, you can replace individual damaged stones without having to deal with the rest of the space.

You can also apply paver sealer once every year or two. A good sealant prevents dirt and stains from penetrating and provides a pleasing shine. Sealed pavers are also easier to clean. You can purchase the sealant at a hardware store. Be sure to apply it only to clean, dry pavers. Pavers that are exposed to heavy rain, sun or foot traffic will need to have new sealer applied more often. In most cases, when you reseal a paver, the new layer can be directly applied on top of the original application.

If your patio pavers are uneven, you may have more serious structural problems that could mean your patio needs to be regraded or replaced.

PAY ATTENTION TO DRAINAGE

Water is your hardscape's biggest enemy. When your stones are installed, they need a water management process. This can be as simple as slight elevation and channels that direct water off the stone and into a depression or drainage area. A well-designed drainage plan can also help provide water to nearby greenery.

If water pools on your stones after rain, something has gone wrong. At that point, you probably need to contact a pro for their opinion. Pooled water can quickly damage stone and get worse.

Also, keep an eye on the sand filler placed between pavers to hold them in place. You can buy a bag of refined sand and pour it into the cracks if weather has worn it away.

Many hardscaping companies offer ongoing maintenance contracts. You can hire one to handle most of this ongoing work if you don't have the time to do it yourself.

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