Taking the necessary steps to care for your deck and patio during the winter months will help make sure you have a beautiful, enjoyable space the rest of the year. As the colder months arrive in the area, here’s what you need to know.
Clear the Deck
Most furniture and accessories aren’t made to withstand harsh winter conditions. Whether you choose to close your outdoor areas entirely or simply bring in more vulnerable pieces such as rugs, throws, and umbrellas, steps should be taken to protect your furnishings.
Umbrellas, tables, chairs, and accessories should all be washed with a mild detergent and hosed to remove dirt and debris. To get the longest life for your furniture, storing them in a shed or garage is best. If you don’t have the storage space or you do not want to close the area entirely, cover tables and chairs with a heavy tarp while not in use.
Gas and charcoal grills also need a good scrubbing and degreasing before being stowed for the season. Tanks of propane and other fuel should be removed from the grill and stored in a cool, dry area. Lastly, trim back nearby bushes and trees and make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and working properly.
Swab the Deck
Ground in dirt and debris not only looks terrible, but it can lead to early deterioration of wood decking and railings. Plus, a summer’s worth of moisture and possible mold and mildew should be cleared to prevent buildup and future problems.
Concrete and stone patios should be swept to remove leaves and debris. A mild cleaning solution and pressure washer can be used to remove dirt and other buildup so your patio is fresh for spring. For wood decks, a bleach-free cleaner should be used to wash and restore your deck and prepare it for a protective finish. If it’s been several years since your deck has been finished or stained, it might be time to strip the wood and refinish as necessary.
Consider a Protective Finish
Mother nature can be pretty hard on wood products, even pressure-treated lumber and durable species such as redwood and cedar. Moisture is the usual culprit, but the sun can also cause shrinking, cracking, and warping while UV rays contribute to discoloration and deterioration.
Sealers and stains are made to prevent the elements from damaging your wood deck and railings. Oil-based products tend to penetrate deeper and provide longer-lasting protection, but can be tricky to apply and difficult to clean up. Water-based products can be more DIY-friendly, but they won’t last as long.
Maintenance Through the Season
Improper snow removal can cause serious harm to decks and outdoor areas. However, unless you need a clear path, there’s generally no reason why snow and ice must be removed. Decks and patios should be structurally sound enough to hold the weight. They are, after all, built to hold many people at one time.
For paths that must be cleared, avoid using metal shovels, especially on wood decks. A sturdy broom should be sufficient for light snow, and a plastic shovel will be less likely to scrape and gouge wood, railings, and soft edging. Salt may be appropriate for some types of composite decking, but in most cases, you’ll want to look for an ice-melt product made specifically for decks and patios. Avoid using sand or other abrasives as they may lead to damage.
Get Help When You Need It
Preparing your outdoor areas for winter can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to caring for wood, landscaping, and other features of your yard. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The friendly crew at Dutch Barn Landscaping is happy to get your home ready for winter so you can rest easy. Call us today!