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How Winter Can Wreak Havoc on Your Hardscape—and How to Stop It

Unless you moved into a home with a preexisting outdoor living space, you likely spent a lot of time and money investing in yours. Don’t let the harsh winter weather ruin all that work. With a little preparation and prevention, you can protect your hardscape from damage and keep it looking new for longer. 

Shovels 

One of the easiest things you can do to protect your patio over winter is get ird of that old metal shovel and replace it with a plastic one. Plastic can be just as strong when it comes to removing snow, but it won’t scuff and scratch the surface of your patio. Come spring, when the snow and ice melts, you won’t see any dings, cuts, scrapes, or streaks caused by hard metal materials. 

Check the cracks

Most hardscape materials are made of durable materials to withstand the elements of every season. However, no matter how strong your stone or tough your terracotta, the winter can be brutal. 

Freezing and fluctuating temperatures can cause cracking in your patio, which can lead to water seepage, more expansion, and even cause rot and mold to form in the crevices. It’s important to fill in existing cracks before winter comes and check for new ones after the season ends. Filling in even the smallest crack can help your hardscape last longer and look better. 

Seal it up 

Winter storms filled with ice, sleet, and snow can bring more than inhibited driving conditions—they can also damage your patio. When ice freezes to your hardscape, it can cause cracking to your materials as well as post a threat to passerbys. Beyond shoveling and laying down salt (we’ll get to that), you can also coat your patio with a sealant before winter. This will help keep it safe from the elements, no matter how severe they get. 

There are many different types of sealants, so do your research before purchasing and make sure you get the one that is best for the material your hardscape is made from. 

Salt

Salting your patio is a simple way to melt ice and prevent it from building up and causing or worsening cracks in your space. However, salt is not meant for all types of patios. Concrete, for example, will deteriorate if common sodium and calcium chloride rubs are spread on it. To be sure you’re not putting the wrong de-icer on your patio, double-check what your hardscape is made from, and then find a de-icer that is safe. If you’re careless about what you throw down, you could end up ruining your patio and weakening the structure.