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Was winter hard on your hardscape?

(BPT) – Heavy snowfall that lingers for weeks or months, extreme temperatures, ice that thaws and then refreezes – Old Man Winter can be rough on your home’s hardscape. When the last vestiges of cold weather finally melt away, you can find yourself heading into spring with pitted driveways, cracked asphalt and crumbling landscaping. It’s important to make repairs before summer heats up and puts further stress on these important areas.

Doing your own hardscape repairs isn’t difficult. You’ll save money, and doing it yourself gives you the opportunity to get some outdoor exercise this spring. Here are some hardscape features that commonly need a little TLC in the spring:

Asphalt driveways – Winter delivers the perfect mix of conditions to cause potholes, pits and cracks in asphalt surfaces. Wet, cold conditions work to weaken minute fissures, cracks and other flaws in an asphalt driveway. Add in the vehicles that travel over it constantly – not to mention the occasional snow plow – and when spring arrives, your asphalt driveway could need some serious repair.

While you may need pros to pour new asphalt, repairing existing asphalt is well within the abilities of most DIYers. For pothole repairs, start by sweeping and removing any loose materials from the area needing repair. Next, pour U.S. Cold Patch by Sakrete in the trouble spot and spread evenly to a depth of no more than 2 inches at a time. Use the back side of a shovel to compact the material, then, since there is no oily tracking with this material, just drive over it a few times with your vehicle. The compaction causes the product to cure into an effective patch. For deeper potholes, keep repeating in 2 inch amounts until completely filled.

Patios and pavers – Patio pavers and bricks can shift, sink or raise, and even crack during a tough winter. If your patio has a sand underlay, fixing problems is relatively easy. For broken or cracked pavers, simply remove the damaged pieces, check that the sand is level, and fill the gap with a new paver or brick. If your patio has become uneven over time, you’ll need to lift all the uneven pavers, level the sand beneath – you may have to add sand – and then put the pavers back atop the now-level sand.

Concrete surfaces – Concrete is a common hardscape material around homes across the country. Concrete driveways, walkways and steps can all succumb to cracking, crumbling, chipping and spalling after a harsh winter. Fortunately, concrete is an easy material to fix, and patching a problem while it’s small may help prevent a much costlier repair or even replacement down the road. To repair cracks of virtually any size, simply apply an easy-to-use product like Sakrete Top’n Bond. Power wash cracks to remove debris. For larger fissures, it may be necessary to use a hammer and chisel to remove crumbling concrete and produce a clean, clearly delineated repair site.

For resurfacing old, damaged or spalled concrete, Flo-Coat resurfacing material by Sakrete provides an easy alternative to costly replacement. Simply remove loose materials from the surface, mix the material, dampen the concrete surface with water and pour the resurfacing material onto the concrete slab. Use a long-handled squeegee to spread the mixture evenly. Be sure to protect expansion and control joints with tape to prevent filling.

Retaining walls – Whether your brick, stone or cinderblock retaining wall is acting as a retaining wall or simply a decorative one, moisture is not its friend. If your region has had a lot of snow this past winter, check your landscaping walls for damage such as cracks in mortar, shifted stones or crumbling bricks. Repairing cracked mortar is easy as long as the bricks or stones it secures remain in good position. Just use a hammer and chisel to carefully remove the cracked mortar to a little more than half the depth of the stone or brick, taking care not to damage the bricks. Then fill the gap with new mortar. To replace cracked bricks in ornamental walls, remove the damaged brick and the mortar around it, then remortar and replace with a new brick

A few simple repairs will help ensure your home’s hardscape is in good shape, and ready for whatever summer weather brings.