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Stone Patio Care: 3 Tips to Keep Your Outdoor Oasis Clean All Summer

Stone Patio Care

Every spring or summer we all go through the same thing: cleaning the patio because it looks embarrassingly hideous, like something from a zombie movie. In fact, it looks like the zombies would enjoy having lunch on it and reflect lovingly upon the weeds & moss growing between the stones.

I don’t want my patio to look this way, do you?

Okay, we both want our outdoor spaces to look crazy awesome.

And not just for a few weeks. If you’re going to spend several hours getting the patio stones looking pristine then you’d also want them to stay that way all summer, right!! Plus, who has the time to continually scrub down pavers or stones when the kids have a million activities over the weekend that require car pooling, sunscreen, and the occasional ER visit?

I’ve made the mistake of using the power washer or patio cleaner and thinking my cleaning job was done only to be back at it 4 weeks later.

Today you’ll discover 3 HUGE TIPs that will

  1. prevent your patio stones from accumulating dirt
  2. eliminate moss and weeds
  3. allow you to enjoy your home’s outdoor space while sipping your favorite beverage (Corona anyone?).

Here’s the supply list for your adventure:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Sakrete polymeric sand
  • Yogurt cup
  • Broom
  • Leaf blower
  • Extension cord
  • Garden sprayer
  • Wet N Forget
  • Spray bottle
  • White Vinegar
  • Dishwashing soap

MacGyver would be proud of this supply list. Let’s get to it so that you can keep your patio clean all summer long :)

 

Polymeric Sand Prevents Weed Growth Between Patio Stones

There are two reasons why you want to use polymeric sand

  1. it prevents weeds from popping up between stones
  2. it stops bugs from living between the stones and possibly finding a way into your house

Who’s going to argue that weeds and bugs are annoying? Anyone?

Case closed.

Ants and other bugs can use cracks between your stones to find a back door entrance into your house. I know first hand because we have issues with sugar ants making their annual pilgrimage across our kitchen counter.

You can find polymeric sand at any home store. I bought Sakrete’s polymeric sand during my weekly trip to Lowe’s. It was located in the landscaping section near the patio stones.

 

Polymeric Sand for Patio Stones

 

Before applying the polymeric sand you need to remove existing weeds or moss from between patio stones or pavers. I used a power washer but you can pull the weeds by hand and scrape off moss with an old flat head screwdriver. Sakrete also recommends cleaning the stones before applying polymeric sand. This makes sense because any power washing or stain remover will likely dislodge the sand you just installed.

You can approach the first step of the application process by

  • using a yogurt cup to pour polymeric sand directly into stone or paver joints
  • or pouring a large quantity of sand directly onto the stones or pavers

 

Applying Polymeric Sand

 

Use a broom to sweep the sand down into the joints. The directions recommend the sand be 1/8 of an inch below the pavers or stones. Sakrete also recommends tapping the stones with a rubber mallet so that the sand will settle better between them.

 

Spread Polymeric Sand with Brush

 

It’s critical to remove all left over polymeric sand from the top of the patio stones. Otherwise the sand might stain them since it has colorant in it.

The best way to displace excess sand is to use a leaf blower.

 

Remove Excess Polymeric Sand

 

Once this is done you can use a garden sprayer to lightly mist the stones & polymeric sand. Don’t allow any puddling because this could cause the polymer to washout. Repeat this misting process 3-4 times over a one hour period (take this opportunity to read a book, listen to your favorite album, or if you’re like me-do laundry & fold clothes).

 

Mist Polymeric Sand

 

Once you’re done with misting keep off the patio for 24 hours.

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to Sakrete’s website. They have a good video explaining the entire process

http://www.sakrete.com/products/detail.cfm/prod_alias/Paver-Set-Polymeric-Sand

Here’s a summary of the steps you need to take with polymeric sand

  1. Remove existing weeds & moss
  2. Clean patio stones with a pressure washer or cleaner
  3. Pour polymeric sand into joints
  4. Sweep sand into joints with a broom
  5. Tap stones with a rubber mallet to compact sand
  6. Remove excess sand with a leaf blower
  7. Mist stones & sand with a garden sprayer 3-4 times in one hour
  8. Avoid puddling of water
  9. Wait 24 hours to use patio

Polymeric sand does a great job of preventing weeds from growing between patio stones or pavers. But I have two more fantastic tips that you should definitely implement so that patio maintenance seems like a thing of the past.

 

Wet and Forget: My 9 Month Experiment Proves You Should Use It

Last summer I heard about Wet & Forget and decided to give it a try. It’s a product that uses surfactants along with the natural cycle of rain, sun, and wind to clean exterior surfaces. You mix it with water, spray it on your patio, and that’s it.

 

Wet and Forget

 

I wanted to see for myself if the product could do just as good as a power washer but without all the effort and water consumption. My degree is in chemistry and an experiment seemed like a natural step to take. So I treated one section of our patio and not the other with Wet & Forget. The time frame was 9 months (September thru May). I chose this period of the year because dirt collects on top of our patio stones over the winter months.

So, does Wet & Forget really work?

YES!! 

Untreated Patio Stones

 

 

Treated Patio Stones

 

Untreated vs Treated

 

The section that didn’t get treated had more moss and dirt collecting on the surface of the stones. Wet & Forget also did a great job of helping remove all the bird droppings. In my mind there’s no question that Wet & Forget works and should be applied to our patio every spring. Even my wife noticed the huge difference between the untreated  and treated patio stones. When the Mrs. says to continue using something I listen.

Using Wet & Forget is simple:

  • Mix one part Wet & Forget to 5 parts of water in a garden sprayer
  • Spray your mixture on your surface of choice
  • Repeat this process every 3 to 4 months
  • THAT’S IT

You’ll have to be patient and allow Wet & Forget to do its thing. After 2 months you’ll start to see your stones or exterior surface look a lot cleaner. If your patio stones are really dirty you can spray them with Wet & Forget then use a stiff scrub brush.

The bottom line is this: algae, moss, and dirt will be a thing of the past if you use Wet & Forget on your patio or deck. You can also apply it to vertical surfaces like siding and get the same positive results. I did this at one of our rental properties and saved myself hours of scrubbing dirt off wood clapboard.

Okay, so now you know how to use Polymeric Sand and Wet & Forget to stop weeds, moss, and dirt from tarnishing your patio.

What should you do for weeds that occasionally pop up? How do you eliminate them in an environmentally friendly and kid-safe manner?

 

White Vinegar to the Rescue: The Natural Way to Kill Weeds

Jill Nystul from One Good Thing by Jillee persuaded me to try white vinegar instead of store bought weed killers. She put together a great blog post on how to mix up the solution and when to use it.

She recommends adding white vinegar to a spray bottle along with 1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap.

 

White Vinegar Weed Killer

 

The soap will help the white vinegar stick to the weeds and allow the acidity of the vinegar to break down the plant. Jill also recommends spraying plants during periods of intense sun to allow the vinegar to be absorbed.

Again, I put on my chemist hat and did an experiment. After mixing the vinegar solution I sprayed a huge weed at 2:00 in the afternoon when the sun was shining at it’s fullest here in Pittsburgh.

This is what the weed looked like the next day :)

 

Apply White Vinegar to Weeds

 

This totally worked!!

If you have any weeds that pop up between your patio stones you should try spraying them with vinegar between 12 to 3 in the afternoon on a sunny day.

 

Using polymeric sand, applying Wet & Forget and using white vinegar will help you keep you stone patio looking great all summer long. I hope these tips help you with your outdoor space. If you have a good suggestion please let me know in the comment section.

I’d like to thank Lowe’s for their support and making me a Creative Ideas Blogger.

 

LCI Badge

 

They were kind enough to provide me with a gift card to purchase the supplies for this tutorial (I supplied the grunt work and all the banter-LOL) but you can buy everything you need for less than $50. The polymeric sand was probably the most expensive item at roughly $19.

You can get more inspiration for home improvement ideas by clicking over to the Creative Ideas website. Here’s the link http://www.lowes.com/creative-ideas. Or if you’re a Pinterest fan Lowe’s also has a ton of pins for home projects (3,623,354 people like their boards and I’m guessing you might too).

One more thing-what’s your favorite drink to sip on a cool summer night? Mine is a good IPA beer.

Make it a great day.

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 comments… add one

  • Linda Hollander June 17, 2013, 9:52 AM

    Jeff:

    I just moved into a 100 + year old house/condo, all by myself after 38 years of having a “honey-do…” So I m a beginner at home maintenance and repair. This website has been a Godsend, but the tip about the Wet and Forget may be the best yet!

    I am in the city (Portland, ME)…it’s dirty, it’s wet A LOT and I have moss on the shady siding…I am ON MY WAY to Lowe’s to get this stuff. The other tips…believe it or didn’t know about! Can you stand it?

    I do have a question: I power washed my back porch last year, and it didn’t do a damn thing. I KILLED myself washing and there is still dirt on my clapboards. Should I just maybe paint them? They could definitely stand it and I am quite sure I could do this myself, since I won’t have to do the ceiling. Meanwhile, don’t I have to know if the existing paint is oil or latex? And how does one tell? This paint is flat, pale yellow and actually pretty gross. It actually looks like someone used flat interior (apartment grade) paint on the siding (and floor. and ceiling, but those are projects for another day.)

    ANY thoughts accepted gratefully.

    Linda Hollander

    • Jeff Patterson June 17, 2013, 10:25 AM

      Hi Linda, thanks for your questions. I love answering ones like these. Like you I don’t have all the answers but that’s okay. We’ll learn together.

      Your paint can be primed over with either oil based or latex primer then painted. These days it doesn’t matter what type is primer but I prefer oil based because it seems to last better. It may sound simple but take a picture if your siding to a home improvement or paint store and ask for suggestions on what type of paint & finish they suggest for your area. They might recommend scraping then sanding the siding, priming then painting with a great paint brush (Purdy is my favorite brand)

      Definitely use Wet & Forget for maintenance- it saved me a ton of cleaning time this year

      Hope this helps

  • Renae June 17, 2013, 11:09 AM

    I am curious about this Wet & Forget. We have a brick house that has pretty annoying efflorescence so I wonder if that will work for us? I will check their website to see if I can find anything out! Thanks for the tip on the weed spray too. Ours are starting to come back after round one of roundup. Not my favorite thing to do…we live on a corner lot!!

    • Jeff Patterson June 17, 2013, 12:00 PM

      Renae, we live on a corner lot, too!!! It’s nice but somewhat of a pain (dog poop isn’t my friend).

      Efflorescence can be tough. We have a ton of it on retaining walls. I haven’t tried Wet and Forget for this problem but should :)

      So I’m not sure if it works but it’s worth a shot.

    • Steve From Wet & Forget June 17, 2013, 12:29 PM

      Hi Renae,

      Unfortunately Wet & Forget doesn’t remove efflorescence. If you have any organic growth on your brick, basically any green or black stuff growing — Wet & Forget will clean and remove this with ease.

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