Five steps for getting the perfect patio

Nick Moyle and Rich Hood

Do you want to freshen up your patio and make an inviting garden sanctuary? Here's how...

With our unusually long, hot, tropical summer almost behind us it’s likely that garden patios have seen a lot of action and are beginning to show some signs of heavy use. Early spring is the best time for a thorough scrub of the patio, to ready it for the social season, but keeping an eye on maintenance now, as we wind down towards the long nights, will help keep it in good shape over winter, requiring less effort when it opens for business again next year.

 

Here’s our five-point plan for patio perfection:

 

1. Remove furniture and pots

Dirt forms around the base of anything on the patio—plant pots, furniture and barbeques—which can set in and make for more troublesome scrubbing if not dealt with more regularly. So before getting to work on the patio you’ll need to move these items to one side and give their bases a clean before they return.

If you’ve finished with anything from the summer, then store it away from the elements until it’s ready to use again next year.

 

2. Get yourself a block paving knife

These tools are L-shaped knives that are perfect for removing debris between paving slabs. Not only will they allow you to effortlessly flick out dirt, but they’ll also slice through any weeds that have taken a liking to the mucky fillings.

There’s no point in having a pristine patio if your gaps are filthy as it’ll soon spread, undoing your hard work.

 

3. Sweep up debris

By now your patio will be covered in bits from the underside of pots and furniture and scattered with dirt and weeds from the gaps between slabs. Time to get the brush out. Use a brush with tough bristles especially designed for outdoor use—your house brush will be too flimsy to cope with the heavier duty work.

While you’re at it, rake up any scattered leaves, grass and other detritus surrounding your patio— a gust of wind will soon relocate this to your patio, undoing your hard work with the broom.

Regular brushing throughout the year is the simplest way of reducing the maintenance work with special attention to the autumn leaf drop being highly advisable.

 

4. Thoroughly clean

There are a few ways of removing the more ground in dirt from your patio. If your knees can cope, then it’s hard to improve on a hand scrubbing brush.

For vertical scrubbing you could continue to use that tough-bristled, long handled brush you swept up with, combined with sloshes of water. Or if you have the technology then use a pressure washer.

If you’re using the latter, then beware of its power—a mis-direction at a piece of wood or window could result in broken wood or glass being distributed around the garden.

Hot water and a squirt of washing up liquid should do the trick but if you want something with more chemical power and protection then there are any number of patio cleaning products on the market, just be careful to read the safety instructions before using.

Give it a final rinse (a bucket of water or hose pipe will do the job) and you’ll be reminded of the colour of your patio slabs when you first laid them.

 

5. Fill gaps

Finally, it’s worth giving your clean patio a look over to see if there are any gaps between your slabs. If so you should consider filling them to reduce the risk of dirt and water spoilage.

For this task you can get special pre-mixed jointing filler or use your own mix of sand and cement. You can fill with a wet or dry mix—we prefer the latter for ease and speed.

It needs to be done on a dry patio, with no rain forecast, and simply involves brushing the mix into the gaps, tapping down with a trowel then covering with a fine spray of water to get the cement working.