Tips for Protecting your Clients’ Hardscapes from Cold
As your install schedule slows with the season, shift your focus to winterizing customers’ hardscapes and thinking ahead to what needs you can help them meet in the cool season.
August 7, 2019
Preparing outdoor living spaces for winter is an easy add-on service to offer your clients and a good way to bring in off-season revenue.
How to Prepare for Cold Weather
All types of hardscapes and outdoor living areas should follow three simple protocols for winterization: inspection, cleaning, and repair/sealing. These preventative steps can help minimize worsening of existing issues and protect from costly damage to hardscapes over the winter.
Paver Patios, Driveways, and Sidewalks
Manmade pavers and concrete are designed to hold up well through winter weather. Even so, the impact of frost, snow, and ice can cause damage to these surfaces without proper maintenance. Encourage customers to continue their routine landscape maintenance schedule throughout the fall to reduce the build-up of debris.
- Offer add-on preventive protection services to clients. These services can include cleaning and storing patio furniture for homeowners, repairing cracked concrete (pavers or slabs) so that water freeze-thaw cycle doesn’t make the crack worse, addressing soil compaction leading to sunken pavers (uneven surfaces can hinder snow and ice removal), and pressure washing.
- Add more sand between the joints of brick or concrete paver surfaces. This will reduce shifting, help hold the pavers in place, and allow for proper drainage after snow melt or rain.
- Choose ice-melt wisely. Some chemicals in deicers can cause damage to pavers and plants. Try using calcium-based ice melts. Calcium-based ice melts tend to have fewer negative side effects compared to some of the blends with more chemicals in them.
- Check for existing drainage issues. If pools of water sit in driveways and sidewalks after summer rains, then these areas will likely cause even more trouble in icy conditions.
- Stock up on the winter snow and ice removal tools like snow plows, snow shovels, and snow pushers before the season begins. Don’t wait for a weather event or you could be out of tools (and luck) when your customers need you. Distributors, including SiteOne, have Early Order Programs available for these specialty items that allow you to stock up and save by purchasing in bulk ahead of the seasonal demand.
- Drain fountains and small water features. Any moisture present in a fountain or similar structure can damage the structure when it freezes.
- If possible, store the water feature during the cold months, especially if it’s a small, pondless waterfall or a water feature that easily disassembles.
- In-ground water features with flexible liners are normally safe for year-round enjoyment. In areas where winters are severe, fish may require a pond heater to maintain a hole in ice for air exchange.
- In most areas, above-ground water features should be winterized by draining and storing or covering. Whether the feature is in-ground or above, this is a good time to thoroughly inspect liners, plumbing, pumps, filters, etc.
While not always part of a hardscape contractor’s purview, decking does need some pre-winter maintenance that you can combine with the services mentioned above to expand your winter prep-offerings.
- Offer the add-on service to clients to remove and store away planters/pots and patio furniture from the deck prior to winter. An empty deck is easier to clean and it helps prevent moisture traps around the items that can lead to mildew growth.
- Sweep away all leaves, pine needles and branches from clients’ decks. Be sure to eliminate all debris from between deck boards too. The dirt and leaves can build up and cause moisture to stay on top of the deck rather than drain through. Power washing is the best option to quickly remove dirt build-up on decks.
- Pressure wash decks with a mildew killing solution. Mildew that is allowed to grow untreated during the winter, can lead to deck damage.
Following these tips and thinking outside of the traditional hardscapes box will help keep you busy during the traditionally slow season, and your customers satisfied with your exceptional service. Visit your local branch or peruse the winter tools available on our website. Start sharing the winter-prep message with your clients so they can see what you’re able to offer to help protect their hardscape investment.