Flowers and shrubs may evolve from winter with a promise f turning green and sprouting new life, but walkways, gutters and exterior walls should never do anything of the sort.
Unfortunately, with fewer daylight hours, cooler temperatures and increased moisture, winter sets the stage for green slimy moss cropping up on everything from walkways to awnings. Aside from being unsightly, moss can be slippery to walk on and may cause damage to a variety of surface types.
Getting rid of moss and grime is a simple task but should be at the top of the priority list alongside planting and bed preparation.
First and foremost, rid hard surfaces of dust, dirt and grime with a power washer, avoiding chemicals where possible, says Jeff Adamson, owner of Adamson Landscape Concepts in Medford. Pressure washing will remove extensive moss buildup and minimize areas requiring special care.
"For me personally, when I get done with a project or I'm getting things cleaned up for spring, I just power wash everything, especially cement driveways," Adamson says.
Using a pressure washer at a PSI setting of 3,000 or lower is ideal for hard surfaces, including driveways and sidewalks. For trouble areas, consider spraying moss removal products that kill and break down moss. Such products also work well for smaller surfaces, such as brick walkways, without the need to scrub.
To avoid harmful moss-removal cleaning ingredients that damage vegetation and, eventually, water supplies, Sig Thurnbauer, assistant manager for Medford's Grange Co-Op, says area stores keep a supply of non-chemical alternatives on hand; two available locally are Safer's Moss and Algae Killer & Cleaner and Lilly Miller's Worry Free Moss and Algae Control.
On rooftops — another site for moss buildup — cleaning can be tricky, but these products work equally as well as on walkways, says Thurnbauer.
Keeping debris cleared from roofs can minimize spring cleanup and trimming trees back to increase the amount of sun reaching the surface helps, too. Salt, a traditional approach, is not recommended as the method is not especially effective and corrodes metal.
Heading back to ground level, fabrics used in awnings, table umbrellas and other patio amenities, if quality material, can be scrubbed with warm soapy water (use Lux or Ivory detergent) and a bristle brush. If opting for cleaning products or sprays found in local stores, John Hurd, owner of Murphy's Custom Canvas in Central Point, says to avoid oil-based products which break down fabric fibers and create a tacky surface that actually attracts dirt and grime.
After cleaning canvas or other fabric, Hurd suggests waterproofing. These treatments are available at most canvas suppliers and retail stores for around $30 a gallon.
Often forgotten until they stop working, gutters should be cleaned out before spring showers. To avoid damage, ABC Window, Gutter and Air Duct Cleaning co-owner Rebecca Lindsay in Medford, says to clean gutters using a hand scoop — available at local hardware stores for a few dollars or fashioned by hand using an empty detergent bottle.
"And, besides having the roof cleaned off and having gutters cleared out, we recommend getting gutter guards," Lindsay says. Use them for the gutter sections that are most prone to accumulating leaves from the trees around your house.
In an exception to her no-product approach, if moss has made its way into eaves, Lindsay recommends that you resolve the reason for moisture buildup, then use mild bleach, or a non-chemical spray, to treat the mold.
Finally, after clearing concrete walkways and driveways of mossy buildup, a quality sealant can minimize next year's post-winter chores, says Charlie Mott of Medford's Cascade Block.
"Putting a sealer down makes it easier to clean up at the end of the year," he says. "You can do it yourself with a bug sprayer. Do it every two years and your driveway will stay nice and clean."
Just the way you like it.