A Guide For Preparing Hardscapes, Exterior Structures & Backyard Features For Winter – Bucks County, PA

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Winter conditions can wreak havoc on Bucks County backyards whether it’s a modern paver patio hardscape in Newtown or a stone walkway in Doylestown.

Now, before the weather gets harsh, is the time to make sure that your hardscape, exterior structures, and other backyard elements can stand up to the onslaught of ice, snow, and freezing temps. 

With good preparation, you will both protect your hardscape investment and ensure that your space emerges unscathed this spring. Here’s a guide of key items to address while preparing your yard for winter.

Also- for non-hardscape cold weather prep- check out our blog post on preparing your landscape and gardens for winter in Bucks County.

Hardscape Winter Prep List

  • Inspect patio/walkways for cracks/gaps
  • Store/cover outdoor furniture
  • Prep outdoor kitchen
  • Inspect outdoor lighting
  • Stock up on surface-safe de-icer
  • No metal shovels!
  • Check rain gutters & drainage for leaves and debris

Inspect Hardscaping For Cracks/Gaps (Patios, Walkways, Etc)

If cracks or gaps exist in your hardscape, water can seep in and freeze in between and underneath patio pavers for example, and will make a potentially minor issue worse- requiring more costly repairs.

That’s why you need to make sure to inspect walkway and patio surfaces for cracks, gaps or uneven areas. A hardscape in poor condition can make snow removal tough and pose a danger to those who walk on it.

If applicable, make use of polymeric sand to secure paver joints. 

Prep Outdoor Furniture

If you won’t be using outdoor furniture over the winter, it should be stored neatly where it’s protected from the elements. This both reduces wear and tear and makes snow removal easier. While storing everything indoors is preferred, at a minimum- use heavy-duty, waterproof furniture covers. 

Prep Outdoor Kitchens 

If you don’t plan on using your outdoor kitchen over the winter, then you should be making sure it is secured. Make sure all appliances are covered well and any drawers, storage areas or cabinets are securely closed. Store anything delicate inside or in an outdoor shed. Shut off gas lines if applicable.

Inspect Outdoor Lighting 

Even if you won’t be using your backyard as much during the winter months, now is the time to make sure all lighting is working and that your bulbs are good. 

Pay special attention to ensure that walkway lighting is functional for safe travels around the property. Take visual stock and note the location of any non-functional bulbs and replace them with the recommended ones per lighting manufacturer specifications.

Pro Tip: It’s always a smart idea to keep some spares handy of the various bulb types your space requires.

Stock Up On Surface-Safe Deicer

One thing we don’t want is to cause any damage to our hardscaping. Certain deicing compounds like rock salt can damage stone and other pavers. So try using a salt-free alternative deicer like Calcium Chloride. Or, you can use a gritty material like sand. While sand won’t remove ice, it’s surface safe and will make your space more traversable. 

Make sure to get plenty of the right deicer so you only have to make one trip… before the winter season is in full swing. It’s far better to be left with a few unused bags in the spring than having to race to the store when a big winter storm is forecasted- competing for what’s left on store shelves.  

No Metal Shovels

Ditch the metal shovels. They can destroy your hardscape and mark up natural stone and pavers alike. Today, there are plastics capable of handling the toughest of snow. Pick up some good-quality plastic shovels before the first snowfalls.

Pro Tip: It can be hard to identify sidewalk borders when snow falls, so get some ‘sidewalk & driveway’ markers (available at most home improvement and hardware stores). They’re not stunning- but if it’s a snowy season, having these temporary markers on stand-by is very handy, making snow removal less stressful while avoiding damage to your lawn and light fixtures.

Check Exterior Structure Rain Gutters 

It’s not uncommon for exterior structures like pavilions to be outfitted with rain gutters. Make a visual inspection to ensure that any gutters are free of fall leaves or other debris. Also, if water is not draining properly- make sure to clear the blockage in your patio and lawn drains or get in touch with an installer or builder who can verify that they’re working properly.

Just Do It

Simply put, following these and other winter prep steps in order to maintain your hardscaping will save you time and money in the long run. Be proactive!

jon-kontz-plant

About JOn Kontz

Jon Kontz is CEO of PLANT Design Group, a landscape design company in Newtown, PA. He has over 25 years of experience designing and building landscapes. He can be reached directly at jon@plantdesigngroup.com. https://loveyourbackyard.com

Outside of business hours, you can find Jon fly fishing, rock climbing and farming with his wife and 3 children.

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