What This Winter Has Done To Your Interlocking Paver Stones

Snow covered paversLast year, the Canadian Farmers Almanac predicted winter 2017/2018 was going to be long, tough, harsh, and cold.

And so far, it’s been fairly accurate.

You prepared your landscaping for winter by doing things like:

Regarding that last point, while you cleaned your interlocking pavers and topped them up with polymeric sand, they’ve still been exposed to the worst Old Man Winter throws at it.

While you’re warm and cozy inside, here’s what your natural stone and interlock pavers have dealt with.

Road salt on paversCorrosion

Like many Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge homeowners, you probably use ice melt or rock salt for snow removal or ice management.

Doing so makes it safer and easier for you to navigate your driveway and front entrance walkways.

The flip side is that it can harm your interlock pavers in a variety of ways:

  • Permanent stains or discolouration
  • Weakening the strength or integrity of the stones
  • Getting stuck in cracks or crevices
  • Loosen them from the aggregate base underneath

At Wright Landscape Services, we’ve found the reason this happens to interlocking pavers is because people use more salt products than they really need.

Stone instability

If you installed the interlocking stones in your landscape design yourself (vs. having a professional landscaping contractor do it), you won’t your pavers have shifted until winter ends and spring arrives.

Here’s why:

Uneven patio stones

  • Underneath the stones, the aggregate base isn’t smooth or flat
  • As snow melts into water (especially on warm winter days), it drains below the pavers
  • The more water trapped below the stones, the more they get pushed up
  • If a cold snap hits, that trapped water freezes and dislodges the stones further

The best case scenario? You simply need to reapply the aggregate based and settle the stones back into place.

The worst case scenario? The stones have cracked and need to be replaced outright.

Unfortunately, your residential pavers are buried under snow and ice, so it’s difficult to determine if stone instability has occurred.

What you can (and should) do in the meantime is try to keep them clear of snow as much as possible, since that’ll reduce any potential runoff when it melts.

Mossy growth

When you last saw your stones (before winter arrived in full force), they were bright, clean, and clear.

Imagine the shock you’ll receive when spring comes around and your interlocking patio or driveway is covered in green moss.

Mossy growth

During winter, moss can form on your patio stones, especially if they’re:

  • Underneath bushes
  • Located in a shady area

Shade, plus the natural moisture of snow and ice, can lead to moss forming on your stones.

If you beautified your yard before winter by pruning and low-hanging branches or overgrown shrubs, you’ve greatly minimized the chances of moss growth.

If you haven’t, you could do a quick trim job now. Just be careful you don’t shock or damage your trees/bushes and that you don’t slip and fall.

Wobbly flagstone

It’s time for science 101:

  • Heat causes expansion
  • Cold causes contraction

The freeze/thaw cycle mentioned earlier in this blog can impact flagstone steps and retaining walls. And the temperature changes don’t need to be dramatic one way or the other for this to occur.

Shaky flagstone looks poor and also poses a trip-and-fall risk (especially for kids).

If possible, try to keep your flagstone areas free and clear of ice.

When spring arrives, you should consider removing your flagstone (even if it appears to be undamaged by winter) and reinstalling them with a mortar compound.

That way, your flagstone will shift less and stay in place more.

Let us restore your interlocking pavers this spring

This winter’s been particularly tough, and there are still a few weeks to go until spring arrives.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wait until then to get your interlocking pavers in tip-top shape.

Contact us now if you’re concerned about the state of your patio stones and want to have us take care of them once the warm weather hits.

You can also ask for a FREE quote if you’ve already decided that spring 2018 is your year to completely transform your backyard landscape design.

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