How To Prevent Mold And Mildew From Growing On Your Patio
A patio or wooden deck is a great way to get more use out of your garden, but over time these areas can become overrun with moss, mildew, and mold. While moss is more easily noticeable due to its usually distinctive green color, mold and mildew are typically more subtle, appearing as black/green scum covering paving stones, bricks, or wood.
If left untreated, these natural growths can completely overtake your patio and create an unsightly area, enough to deter you from using the patio entirely. But cleaning and preventing mold and mildew doesn’t need to be a chore, nor does it require harsh chemicals that could harm surrounding greenery.
How often to clean the patio
Knowing when you should clean your patio depends on the severity of the mold, how often it grows back, and the climate. The growths typically thrive in damp, shaded conditions meaning you may have to clean more frequently if you live in a cloudy and rainy area. However, mold and mildew can still present a problem in any garden patio because it’s fuelled by organic materials found in every garden. Dust, cut grass, tree sap, and other organic debris are just some of the many natural food sources which cause mold and mildew growth. If your garden has just the right conditions to promote this growth, you may need to clean the patio every few months, although cleaning detergents may help cut this down. If your patio is rarely bothered by this problem then you might be lucky enough to only clean it once or twice per year.
Cleaning your patio
When most people encounter mold or mildew on their patio, the ‘go-to’ defense is typically a pressure washer or brush. While a pressure washer certainly removes mold and mildew, it can cause some damage to your patio. On the other hand, a brush alone might remove the mold but it won’t be long until it grows back. Before deciding on any solution, you should first consider the pros and cons of each cleaning method and how it’s likely to work in your garden.
Pressure Washer – As mentioned, pressure washers are an excellent choice for cleaning mold and mildew as you simply have to blast the affected area with water and the problem disappears. But, there’s a catch. If your patio features colored tiles or paving stones then this color will fade away after each wash. Similarly, when cleaning a wooden deck, the surface can become chipped and faded from water pressure. So, how do you fix it?
We could get into some science here, trying to figure out the durability of your patio stones and the pressure emitted from your pressure washer hose, but there’s no straightforward answer – it entirely depends on the type of stone, pressure washer, and the way you use the cleaning tool. Instead, there are a few things you can do to safely use a pressure washer on your patio.
Whether it’s an electric or gas pressure washer, this tool should be set to a low intensity when cleaning the patio to prevent damaging or fading the surface area. It’s also a good idea to stand further away than normal from the surface and tilt the pressure washer gun at an angle. In doing so, you lessen the water’s force of impact and reduce the risk of fading the paving stones or wood. If at first the mold or mildew doesn’t move, gradually increase the pressure until it washes away.
Chemical Detergent – If water alone won’t do the job, pressure washer detergent is an excellent choice for removing extra-tough mold and mildew from your patio. This detergent works wonders on patios and is just what you need if you’re facing a stubborn mildew problem. However, the harsh chemicals sometimes found in these detergents can harm plants, even if they just reach the soil. Ideally, these detergents should be used away from plant life and soil to protect your garden greenery.
Homemade Detergent – Another effective way of removing mold and mildew from your patio is through using a homemade detergent. This can be made easily using equal parts of vinegar and Borax (sodium tetraborate) and a cup of warm water. This should be applied with a spray or sponge to an already watered patio before leaving to set for around a half-hour. The detergent can then be scrubbed with an outdoor brush until the area is clean before being washed with a pressure washer or garden hose.
Note: When using any cleaning detergents, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use and always wear protective clothing (gloves, eyewear, etc.). Cleaning your patio on a warm, sunny day will help to dry the area after cleaning, reducing the likelihood of growth occurring while the area is damp.
Mold and mildew can be an embarrassing problem, especially in warmer climates when guests visit and you want your garden in tip-top condition. Following the simple process above, you can easily keep your patio fresh and clean, ready for visitors at a moments’ notice.