Winter weather can exacerbate hardscape issues. Water, in the wrong place, can freeze and thaw in a cycle that creates movement leading to problems with materials above and below the surface. This motion can cause settling of improperly installed base materials leaving sunken pavers or concrete walkways separated from front landings. Any opportunity water has to infiltrate in the potential wrong place within your hardscape, it will.
Signs of trouble are typically easy to spot, but it’s a good idea to start looking for problem areas before the spring rains arrive. If you do uncover issues, a professional can assess the severity of the damage and suggest and implement repairs that can prolong the life of your hardscape. With the right repair solution, you’ll be able to enjoy your investment as soon as spring makes its debut.
Signs of Hardscape Issues
Indications of hardscape problems are usually easy to see. Take a walk around your property and look for these warning signs:
- Retaining Walls, Firepits, and Fireplaces
- Loose bricks or pavers
- Movement (e.g., bowing or leaning (unlevel), signs of sepration)
- Patios and Walkway
- Areas that appear to be sinking
- Pavers that are moving or shifting
- Cracks in concrete or mortar joints, space developing between pavers
- Spalling (i.e., pieces are chipping off)
- Pooled water
- Loose step treads
While it may seem like you can repair your hardscaping on your own, it’s best to have an expert fix any problems. Sometimes issues that seem minor are more significant and extensive than you think. A skilled professional will be able to diagnose the cause of the damage and suggest repairs that will prevent further issues down the road.
- Just like with concrete, shifting pavers is often a sign of the ground below them moving – either due to settling or erosion. One misplaced paver may just need new joint sand. If there are dips or indications of sinking, though, then the whole area may need to be re-leveled with a focus on solving whatever is causing the earth to move.
- Chipped, cracked, or pitted bricks should be replaced not only for safety, but to avoid more widespread issues in the future.
Wall cracks and movement:
- Problems in any standing feature, like a retaining wall or fireplace, pose serious safety concerns and should be addressed immediately. Small issues may be able to be repaired or patched, while more extensive ones may require the hardscaping to be completely redone.
- Cracks must be sealed or patched using a special concrete-repair caulk. If left untreated, water will permeate the cracks and freeze, creating more pressure on the area and making the damage worse.
- Pooling water is a sign of drainage issues. Your expert will suggest a drain to effectively channel water away from your home and its foundation.
- Pitting and spalling needs to be addressed by resurfacing or patching.
- Sinking is a sign of a major issue. The slab may need to be lifted so that the ground underneath can be re-leveled with sand or gravel and then tamped down. If the earth is eroding under the concrete due to water, then a drainage solution will also be needed. Because concrete tends to have issues with water damage, often removal and replacement with a more tolerable material is the best course of action.Pavers are compressed concrete so much so that they are not nearly as porous prohibiting water retention and giving them immunity from the chipping and issues with brick or stone. They dry faster and withstand winter weather better. Select ones are tolerant of de-icing products. The bases beneath pavers, when installed correctly, facilitate drainage and permit for gentle, seasonal movement.
Tips for Maintaining your Hardscaping During the Winter
- Refrain from using rock salt or ice-melting chemicals on any surfaces during the winter. Instead use sand or kitty litter.
- Seal/re-point any cracks immediately.
- Remove snow as quickly as possible. If water is able to seep into hardscaping and then refreeze, it can cause significant issues.
- Make sure water is properly running away from your home and any hardscaping.
If you see any signs of damage to your hardscape this winter, give Sunrise Landscape and Design a call. We will identify the root of the problem and then take steps to repair it properly. Our knowledgeable team can work with any hardscape material, and we have experience solving complicated hardscaping and drainage issues in Northern Virginia. Don’t hesitate; a few repairs now will translate into an entire year of beautiful and functional outdoor living.
Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company offering a full range of landscaping services. Our landscape and design services include hardscapes, water features, irrigation and landscape lighting. Our property maintenance services will keep your landscape vibrant and healthy year round with mulching, edging, garden cleanups, lawn mowing, tree pruning and mosquito/deer control. Contact us today for all your landscape and lawn care needs!