Whether your business has an impressive, gated entrance with a large water feature and wraparound patio, or a simple parking lot with a path to the front door, remembering to clean the hardscape of your business can be easy to forget. There’s so much emphasis on getting the landscape in order each year — with fresh mulch and new plants — that the walkways, patios, walls and driveways often fall behind.
Because it’s permanent, hardscape often falls victim to a “set-it-and-forget-it” mindset. Once you install your hardscape, it doesn’t require as much maintenance, right? Wrong.
Why Should I Clean Hardscape?
Landscaping can add up to 20 percent more value to a home, and it can have an equally impressive impact on your business, so you can’t afford to ignore it. If you don’t anticipate having to sell or rent your commercial property to someone else, just think about your customers. Studies show you have seven seconds to make a first impression. What’s the first thing your customers see when approaching your business? The answer is your hardscape.
When you give some extra thought to the most important characteristics of your hardscape, the first thing that will probably come to mind is appearance. Hardscape is an integral part of your landscaping — one of the first things customers and staff see when they come to your business. Keeping it looking fresh takes work. Between weather, foot traffic and natural growth, your hardscape takes a beating. Without cleaning, repairing and sealing, it can become discolored over time. Algae, mold and mildew can take over, giving your hardscape an ugly tint.
While appearance is important, there’s another aspect of keeping your hardscape clean that may be even more essential to your business — the risk of injury. Take a moment and think about all the walkways, paths and walls on your property. Chances are, you have staff members and customers walking on or near those hardscapes year-round, especially when the weather is nice. Tree roots and other natural plant growth can spring up between pavers and stones, causing cracks and unevenness. Not only can this be an eyesore, it also creates the risk of injury.
Both a neglected unpleasant appearance and damage to your hardscape can take a toll on your property value. You may not be thinking about selling your property, but if and when you do, you don’t want to have to replace all of your hardscaping because you’ve neglected it for so long. Yes, cleaning your hardscape is an investment, but the cost of regular maintenance is minimal compared to the expense of fully replacing a hardscape that’s been neglected for years.
Chances are, you already work with a professional to address many of your commercial landscaping needs. Hardscaping should be part of that. At least once per year, you should contact a landscaping professional to clean your hardscape with their powerful solutions and tools.
How to Clean Hardscape
If you were asking, “Should I clean my hardscape?”, now you know the answer to that question is yes. But your follow-up question is probably about how to clean hardscape. The first step is to schedule professional cleaning services at least annually.
Between the professional cleanings, you should take steps to keep your hardscape looking like new. Yes, the professional cleanings will achieve those like-new results, which you won’t be able to replicate on your own. However, you can maximize the results of your professional cleaning throughout the year by taking matters into your own hands and doing some simple maintenance that will keep up the appearance and structure of your hardscape.
Keep It Clear
The simplest step you can take to maintain your hardscape between professional cleanings is to keep its surface clear. If leaves and debris collect on your driveway, walkway or the gate surrounding your entrance, sweep it away before it has a chance to decompose on the surface of your hardscape. Water can also accumulate on some surfaces, and you should thoroughly remove it to prevent staining.
For example, if you have a walkway to the main entrance of your business, simply keeping it clear of debris and standing water can make a big difference. Remember, this is all part of creating a positive impression, while preventing the need for future repairs.
Remove Weeds and Other Growth
Weeds, vines and other roots and plants can sneak between the cracks of all different types of hardscape. If you have a patio or walking path of stones, pavers or bricks, we’re sure you’ve noticed the growth in the smallest cracks and crevices. If you have concrete or asphalt, you may see growth around the edges and in the cracks between sections. Make sure you set aside time to pull weeds and vines that may be pushing their way into your hardscape. You can use a spray to kill the weeds, but good old-fashioned pulling works just as well.
Sometimes, the growth isn’t quite big enough to pull. Moss, for example, can be frustrating as it grows between cracks, but it’s tough to remove on your own. If you can remove it, great. If not, let the professionals handle it. If you’re able to take care of some of the growth and you notice a recurring problem in spots, clean out the cracks and fill them in with sand or mortar, whichever is appropriate for the type of hardscape you have.
Cracks start small, but can quickly become a larger problem. You can’t afford to wait until your next visit from the commercial landscaper to fix cracks. If you have significant cracks in your hardscape or notice cracks in several areas, it’s time to call a professional.
If you have cracked or broken pavers, stones or bricks, consider replacing them. If you discover cracks in concrete or asphalt, evaluate whether they’re shallow cracks that might be able to be repaired with a resurfacing solution, or if there’s something more than needs to be done. Cracks appear in everything from driveways to retaining walls, and if they’re left to sit until the next time your landscaping professional comes, they could become a hazard to anyone walking over them. Plus, they aren’t doing the appearance of your business any favors.
Shallow hairline cracks that aren’t fixed often turn into much bigger ones that are significantly more expensive to repair. For example, filling in cracks in your driveway or parking lot is much better than waiting and realizing you have to replace part of the asphalt or concrete because you neglected to address those small cracks.
Regardless of the size of the hardscape cracks you have and who fixes them, talk to a professional landscaper about the sealing options that may be available for your hardscape. Sealing can help keep water and other growth out of your hardscape so you have fewer cracks to worry about in the future.
Remove Mold, Mildew, Moss and Algae
In the spring and summer, algae, moss, mold and mildew can accumulate on the surface of your hardscape. While having a professional come and thoroughly clean your hardscape one or two times per year is extremely beneficial, taking the time to scrub it throughout the spring, summer and fall months is a great way to prevent a lot of buildups.
How can you clean pavers? There are a few different ways, and it’s important to do a little bit of research so you don’t end up harming your hardscape. One way to clean is to use a pressure washer — if you don’t own one, you can rent one. Before you get started, make sure the surface you’re washing can handle the intensity —you don’t want to end up causing chips and discoloration as a result of cleaning.
If your hardscape isn’t compatible with a pressure washer, or the cost of renting a pressure washer is too high, you can always use a cleaning solution, hose and brush to wash the hardscape surface. There are a variety of cleaning solutions available, and regardless of what you use, be sure to test it on one small section of your hardscape first. The last thing you want is to discover that your attempt at cleaning led to discoloration.
Making an effort to remove the mold, mildew, moss and algae is a great step to take in maintaining your hardscape before permanent damage and discoloration set in. You may not be able to get all the spots off, but you will make a difference in the overall appearance of your hardscape.
You can even take things one step further by taking preventive action against future growth. The bottom line is, all this growth loves dark, damp areas. In short, you want to limit those areas in your hardscape. If you have sprinklers, try to face them away from hardscape areas to avoid unnecessary dampness. Another step you can take is to trim back plants and other trees that overhang and shade your hardscape. Trimming back these plants will leave room for more sunlight and decrease the growth of algae, moss, mold and mildew.
Keep Sand in Place
Sand is a commonly used material in paving to keep everything in place and to fill the cracks. Naturally, over time, that sand disappears — wind, water and foot traffic displace the sand, leaving your hardscape vulnerable to being displaced and dirty. Keep it in place by occasionally sweeping over the hardscape to replace loose sand.
If you notice some of the sand between your pavers, stones or bricks is missing, consider replacing it. If you notice larger sand loss, call a professional to help. Focusing energy on the sand in your hardscape may seem like a small task, but over time, the lack of sand leaves room for movement and growth to make its way into those cracks and crevices. You can save yourself from future hassle by addressing missing sand before it becomes a bigger problem.
Bring in a Professional
Take these steps on a regular basis to ensure your hardscapes are clean, and you’ll notice a difference in both appearance and structure. However, these cleaning steps should be in addition to hiring a professional, not in place of a professional. Why? Because commercial landscapers are the experts. They specialize in cleaning and restoring hardscape, and they have the tools and technology to keep your hardscape looking like new. In addition, they can use commercial sealer to preserve that like-new appearance and to protect your hardscape from the weather and other sources of discoloration and damage.
Complete Landscaping Service
At Complete Landscaping Service, hardscape cleaning and sealing is part of a comprehensive list of commercial landscaping services we provide. We don’t just clean hardscape, we design and install it, too. So if you need help with hardscape you already have, you can have confidence in knowing that we understand how the hardscape is installed. We’re familiar with common hardscaping materials, from pavers and stone to concrete and asphalt. We know what surfaces can be pressure washed and scrubbed clean with a tough brush, and which ones need more delicate cleaning.
In addition to knowing the best way to clean the hardscape you have, we also know a problem when we see one. If there’s a piece of a gate or rack that’s missing, leaving behind a sharp edge, or a water feature that seems to be leaking near the foundation of your building, we’ll not only find it, we’ll know how to fix it. Over time, even hardscapes that were installed well can settle and cause crooked patios and paths. Because of our expertise, this is something we can restore. Think of us as a one-stop shop for the outdoor areas of your business.
Don’t neglect your hardscape. Request a quote on commercial landscaping services, and we’ll make sure the money you invested in your property doesn’t go to waste.