When transitioning from summer to autumn, keeping outside space well-maintained and looking neat and tidy can be a tricky task. Fallen leaves, wet weather and even frost, can make patios and outside dining areas look unkempt.
After a long, hot summer patios are also likely to be covered in scrapes, spills and stains. The summer’s hot weather and the cooler autumn weather could result in the aesthetic and overall lifespan of the paving stones being damaged.
With this in mind, paving specialist and founding director of Infinite Paving, Rowan Cripps, has shared his advice for cleaning, caring and protecting paving stones during the autumn months. Rowan’s tips include the “best ways to avoid damage” from harsh winter weather.
Don’t power wash too much
Summer barbecues and muddy footprints can all cause accidents and spills on patios. However, while it may be tempting to grab a power washer, overusing it can result in the removal of the sealant that is on the stone to protect it.
Rowan said power washers can be a “very effective and an easy way to clean paving slabs” but the sealant on the paving slab is vital to the lifespan of the stones and helps to protect them from staining and weathering.
Don’t use bleach to clean patios
Rowan said: “Using bleach or diluted bleach to clean your pavers from summer spills or rust stains from fire bowls during cooler months is for some reason a piece of advice that we see all too commonly. However, we advise against this as it could potentially discolour and ruin your patio slabs.”
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Rowan said many other cleaning solutions can be used that are far less harmful than bleach. Clean water or soapy water, for example, can be used to clean patios.
If the job is extremely tough then a harder patio cleaner may need to be used. In the event of this, use a hard cleaner that is designed specifically for paving stones and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damage.
Clean spills and stains instantly
Rowan said this is “one of the most common mistakes” people make with their paving stones. Leaving stains and spills can result in permanent marks.
With this in mind, it is important to act as quickly as possible to clean spills and potential stains instantly.
Simply apply soap and water or a bleachless cleaning solution and let it sit for a maximum of 30 minutes before scrubbing it off.
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Rinse after cleaning
The reason it’s so important to rinse the cleaner off is that the cleaner will continue to work even after cleaning has finished. Patio and paving stones could then be left with a dull finish and discolouration over time if this is continuously done.
Regularly check the paving stones until they’re dry to ensure there is no dirt or grime build-up that can get onto the freshly washed and clean paving.
Research the stones
Rowan explained: “Some stones can be extremely delicate, while other types of paving can be extremely robust. Each one has different maintenance requirements, and if not cleaned correctly, can be damaged.
“Always research the paving stone that you have and put together a tailored maintenance plan to ensure that you are treating your patio in the way in which it needs to be treated.”
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Keep an eye on winter weather
When applying cleaning solutions to paving stones, gardeners should keep an eye on the weather forecast.
Rowan explained: “Avoid cleaning them if rain is expected. Applying cleaning products onto a dry surface allows the cleaner to stay on the designated spots for longer to gently clean and restore your paving back to its original colour.”
Check for stains and sweep patios at least a couple of times a week during the autumn months to remove debris such as leaves.
If left in damp weather, the debris can permanently stain and mark paving stones.