Now that we’ve finally hit June, it’s time to kick your outdoor entertaining into high gear. After the winter thaw and spring rains, your stone patio might be just a little worse for the wear. Stains, cracks, and weeds are common patio problems that are easily resolved, but it will take some time and elbow grease. Below, we’ve got your go-to guide for getting that patio into tip-top shape in time for your first barbecue blowout of the summer.
Rinse & Repeat
First things first, you need to remove all furniture from the patio to make sure you don’t miss any spots while cleaning. We know you don’t really want to move that heavy picnic bench but trust us, giving your patio a single deep clean will help you protect it all summer long.
After all the furniture has been set aside, you’ll need to clean away all loose dirt and debris by giving your stone patio a good sweeping. We suggest using a push broom to really get into all the nooks and crannies in and around the stones, but a kitchen broom should be fine, too. After you’ve swept, rinse down the entire patio using a garden hose and allow the patio to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Now, assess your patio for any stains. These can be from food spills, grease or smoke stains from the barbecue, oils or residue from children’s toys, or other blips and spots. To combat these stains, star by using some common dish soap and a scrub brush. Don’t be afraid to scrub vigorously — although you’ve previously heard us say not to use abrasive pads on your stone countertops or indoor tiles, stone patios are very different and don’t have that same mirror-smooth finish as interior stone does. It can handle a good scrubbing, so have at it!
If the stains persist, try scrubbing them with a mixture of 1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water (vinegar has also been shown to work as well). Just be sure to wear the proper protective gear when dealing with bleach, as it can burn your skin and eyes. You can also use this solution to help scrub away moss and mildew, with the added bonus that bleach will prevent it from growing back in the future.
After you’ve used your cleaners, be sure to rinse very thoroughly with water — otherwise, the cleaners themselves might leave a stain.
Weed ‘em Out
Weeds will commonly grow in the spaces between pavers, especially if the channels are filled with sand or gravel instead of grout. Pulling out these weeds will help your patio look neater — for a few days, at least. To keep these pesky plants from coming back, try using a commercial weed killer or a mixture of bleach or vinegar and water spritzed out of a spray bottle. You can also try filling the channel with polymeric sand, which has been shown to keep weeds at bay as well.
If mold, moss, and mildew have been a consistent problem for your stone patio, you can buy sprayable products that will help prevent this fuzzy green growth. Many of these products only need to be applied once a year, so it’s definitely something worth looking into to make your patio more maintenance-free. However, some people like the more lived-in, rustic look a little moss can give, in which case you wouldn’t want to use these products.
Break It Up
The winter freeze and spring thaw cause stones to come loose, crack, or completely break into pieces, particularly if your patio is old. These stones need to be replaced, especially in the latter case — broken or cracked stones can cause people to trip, and you definitely don’t need a trip to the ER when you’ve got the grill going!
Re-grouting between pavers is quick and easy since you’ll only have to attend to the channels that have degraded, rather than the entire patio. Your local home improvement store should sell grout in small quantities, which can easily be applied with a putty knife.
If you need to re-sand between some of the joints, try pouring the sand into a cup and sprinkling it over the joint in question. Then, tap stone with a rubber mallet to help sand settle in more deeply, then sweep the excess away. Finally, lightly mist the patio to help compact the sand into the channels. You might want to repeat this last step a few times to really ensure the sand is stuck in there good and tight, making sure to let the sand dry between misting.
Giving your patio a good, thorough cleaning at the start of the season will help ensure it looks top-notch all summer long. Plus, this will help protect the surface from weathering and wear in the long run. While natural stone is incredibly durable, a little TLC goes a long way in preventing pesky weeds and broken stones that can easily make your backyard look dingy. So, how did you clean your patio this year? Let us know in the comments!