December 8, 2022 by The Stone Man

6 Tips for Hardscape Maintenance During a Carolina Winter

Winter in the Carolinas brings wet weather in the form of snow and ice as well as freezing temperatures. These natural conditions can wreak havoc on stone, and other materials that you use in your hardscape design. While you can’t change the weather patterns or climate, you can take steps to ensure your hardscaping endures these environmental changes. When the sun starts shining in April, your hardscape design will shine right along with it.

1. Hardscape Maintenance Starts with Keeping It Clean

When you integrate hardscaping with landscaping, you create a beautiful environment that you can use to entertain guests or watch your children play. However, surrounding your hardscaping with trees, shrubs, and foliage also means natural debris, such as leaves and sticks, will accumulate on your walkways and patio.

As the colder weather approaches, it’s important to keep your hardscaping surfaces clear of debris. When leaves and other items become damp, mold growth will become more common on pavers and stone surfaces. You’ll reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew growth by keeping your exterior property clear of debris. Take a broom or blower to these surfaces frequently to reduce any buildup.

2. Choose a Mild Deicer

Winter weather concerns include keeping your walkways clear of slippery ice. You might also want to remove ice from your patio just to be safe. Unfortunately, rock salt and other common deicing agents use harsh chemicals that will erode stone. This can lead to a need for significant repairs when spring arrives.

The better alternative to reduce your need for hardscape maintenance is to choose a milder substance to either melt or cover icy surfaces. Sand is a great substitute that serves this purpose well. Alternatively, choose a deicer that contains potassium chloride instead of calcium chloride. Also, be sure to avoid the temptation to break up ice with metal tools that may damage the stone underneath.

3. Your Shovel Type Matters When It Comes to Hardscape Maintenance

Just as you will take extra steps to protect your landscaping, you’ll also want to be extra careful in protecting your hardscaping. This includes choosing the right equipment for snow and ice removal. Although a steel or aluminum shovel might make snow removal easier, these shovels can damage the underlying stone.

To remove snow without damaging the stone surface, switch to a rubber or plastic shovel. If you still want the strength of a metal shovel, buy one with a rubber edge. This hardscape maintenance tip is another practice that will help you avoid unnecessary spring repairs.

hardscape maintenance

4. Inspect for Damages Early

As soon as the weather starts to change, you should inspect your patio and walkways for damage because changes in temperature and moisture can cause damage to these structures. Cold temperatures can cause concrete and other materials to crack and shift, while heavy rains can wash away soil and damage surfaces. Additionally, seasonal changes can also cause weeds and other plants to grow in and around your patio and walkways, which can cause damage and make these areas unsafe to walk on. 

Harsh temperatures and wet weather will cause problems to worsen throughout the winter. By conducting regular inspections, you can identify and address any damage early on, preventing more serious issues from developing and keeping your patio and walkways safe and functional for the entire season. This includes looking at the roof on your covered patio for areas where it may be leaking. As you find signs of damage or erosion, plan to repair those problems.

5. Store Temporary Fixtures

If your hardscaping includes temporary fixtures, such as a small water fountain, statuary, or lattices, consider putting them in storage as well as any easily moveable furniture or chairs. They will be better protected in an enclosed storage unit, and you won’t have to worry about taking extra steps to protect them from the winter weather. Preventing exposure to snow and frigid temperatures will extend the longevity of these items

6. Make Use of Your Exterior Lighting

In addition to dealing with snow and ice, you’ll want to make sure it’s safe for your family and friends to use your walkways, porch, and patio. Install exterior lighting with motion sensors to ensure people will be able to see as they navigate your walkways.

Exterior lighting can also help to identify any potential hazards or issues with your hardscape features, such as cracks or uneven surfaces, that may be difficult to see during the day or in low light conditions. This can allow you to address any issues promptly, which can prolong the life of your hardscape features.

Good lighting and motion sensors can add to your home’s security as well as prevent slips and falls. Talk to your insurance agent about discounts for adding these features to your property.

We’ll Answer All of Your Hardscape Maintenance Questions

Need more advice on how to keep that hardscape in the best shape during these chilly months? We have even more to say. Contact The Stone Man today.