Slippery Paving Slabs Caused By Algae And Lichen: 5 Solutions To Consider

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In many parts of the United States, algae and lichen thrive on concrete paving stones. While these organisms don't normally damage the paving slabs themselves, algae and lichen can make steps and pathways slippery in wet weather, which could result in a nasty accident. As such, it's important to consider the steps you may need to take to deal with the issue. Here are five effective solutions to think about.

Cut back vegetation and clean away debris

Algae and lichen enjoy damp, humid and shady conditions, and these organisms are particularly noticeable after a wet spell, although, with the right growing conditions, algae and lichen can thrive throughout the year. As such, you need to make sure you aren't offering an attractive growing environment.

Cut back bushes and plants growing next to pathways and steps to remove any natural foliage cover. In turn, this will allow sunlight and warmth to hit the paving slabs more often, which will also deter algae and lichens. Similarly, make sure you regularly sweep away fallen leaves and other debris, which may offer these organisms the cover they need to grow.

Deal with any water leaks

Even a relatively minor leak could exacerbate a problem with algae and lichen. For example, a trickle from a roof gutter that constantly flows across a pathway will encourage algae and lichen because of the constant source of moisture.

Fix rusted or leaking gutters that may allow water to overflow, and look out for any leaks that may encourage water to collect or flow across your paving slabs. For example, broken or cracked paving slabs are not just a trip hazard. These damaged slabs may allow surface water to gather, which, in turn, could harbor algae and lichen, so fix these problems as soon as you spot them.

Clean the slabs

Cleaning your paving slabs can help you eliminate existing algae and lichen growth, and regular washing will stop new growth on your paths and steps. Take care when choosing cleaning products and methods. According to the type of slab you have, certain products and/or techniques may damage the surface of your steps and pathways.

Pressure washing will often remove existing algae or lichen growth from your slabs. You may need to use a stiff brush on stubborn areas of growth, but avoid household cleaning products that may contain harsh, acidic ingredients. These products may degrade the surface of the slab. Warm water and soap with some hard work can get rid of a lot of algae or lichen.

Apply a chemical treatment

Cleaning products can help you get rid of some lichen and algae, but you may need to use a chemical treatment to effectively kill any stubborn specimens. Again, harsh chemicals may do more harm than good here, especially if you wash them into flowerbeds or lawns. As such, a solution of water and bleach (or pool cleaner) will normally do the trick.

When mixing the bleach solution, add the bleach to the water. With this method, there is less risk that any neat bleach will splash on you or plants near the path or steps. Apply the diluted bleach to the affected areas and allow to soak in, and use a brush to then vigorously scrub the area. You may need to repeat this several times.

Apply a sealant

Many homeowners now use sealants to protect paving slabs and steps. Once you have thoroughly cleaned the area, you can simply use a brush, spray or roller to apply the sealant according to the manufacturer's instructions. These products are particularly useful for driveways and areas that see a lot of foot traffic, but you can also use them on paths and steps.

Sealants may last anywhere from one to three years, according to the type of product you use and the amount of usage the surface gets. As such, you may need to reapply the sealant from time to time, but once in place, these products will stop algae and lichen growing completely.

Algae and lichen can make steps and pathways dangerously slippery. Talk to a paving contractor from a company like Bill Mariotti Site Development Co Inc for more information and advice about how you can tackle this problem. 

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6 June 2016

Use Concrete as a Form of Art

Concrete doesn't have to be boring. In fact it can be absolutely beautiful. My name is Andrea Reese, and I am an artist as well as an avid gardener. I enjoy sculpting and decided to try to combine my two passions to create an incredible backyard oasis. The results are incredible. In this blog, I'll show you how I learned to make small sculptures and etchings in walkways to turn what used to be ordinary concrete into something amazing that adds tremendous artistic flair to the beauty of my garden. You can make visitors to your backyard think they've stepped into a fairy land. I can show you how.