Cleaning walkways and patios of moss and algae

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Category:  Landscape Maintenance
Description:  Here are some of the products and chemicals typically used to clean moss and algae from walkways and patios in the Seattle area and the effect these cleaning products and methods can have on the environment.
Author: Lori Beehner
Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Around Seattle, moss and algae are constant residents to walkways and patios, but they are not always welcomed.  So, what is the best and most effective way to keep your patio and walkways clean and safe?

We have listed below some of the products and chemicals people have used to remove moss or algae growth.  Keep in mind that using chemicals can have an adverse effect on the soil and garden beds around the patio.
 
Moss Out - Probably the most common product for killing moss and is more commonly associated with lawns and roofs.  However, Moss Out also has products to clean moss and mildew off patios, walkways and decks.  Make sure you use the correct product for the proper medium.  The product works very quickly and the dead moss should be removed.  The active ingredient of Moss Out is ferrous ammonium sulfate.  While it is not harmful to the environment, it can affect nearby garden beds and be harmful to pets.  Safer Moss and Algae is another product and just as the name suggests, it is safe to use around pets, children and will not harm nearby vegetation.  Its active ingredient is an herbicidal soap that consists of biodegradable fatty acids and potassium salts, which dehydrate, or dry out the moss or other organisms in order to eliminate them.

Household Products - There are many products in our home that can be used to control or kill moss, including vinegar, bleach and ammonia.  We even have a client who swears by using liquid Tide to control the moss on their patio.  While these are common products used throughout the household, we highly recommend diluting these products with water when using them outdoors where they can leach into the soil.  The chemicals can alter the pH in your soil and cause an adverse response from your plants.  Be especially careful around edible vegetation.  And if it makes you feel more comfortable, we recommend using a Bio-degradable soap diluting with water for outside.

Round-up  - This product is often used for killing weeds.  However, it can be used on walkways and patios to rid them or moss or algae.  The active ingredient in Round Up is Glysophate, which is considered to be the least toxic and harmful to the environment.  It is quickly absorbed into the soil and broken down before it can leach into drains or streams.  However, this does not mean that Round Up is entirely safe and should be used with care and in controlled situations.

Burning with a torch  - Yes…I know.  Out of desperation, you may want to just burn the stuff away.  This actually works and is one of the most environmentally-friendly approaches, but understand the obvious risk.  Playing with fire could have drastic consequences.  If you choose to burn the moss or algae growth from your walkway or patio, or small weeds from between brick or stone, you should make sure there are no other plants or objects close by.  Also make sure there is no wind and you have a hose turned on and/or fire extinguisher within reach…just in case.

Pressure Washing  - The safest and surest way to remove moss build up and mildew from patios, decks and walkways is to simply pressure wash the surface.  The true downside to this is it will not kill or stop the moss from returning.  However, it will clean the surface temporarily and without harmful chemicals.  For tough mildew stains, you may need a little extra elbow grease and scrub the surface to effectively rid the moss the mildew.  Remember, pressure washers are high powered and you want to be careful when operating them.  Do not use too high of a pressure and do not get too close to your surface that you cause damage. 

If you are not comfortable using the above mentioned techniques or you simply do not have time, please contact Environmental Construction Inc. for assistance.  We are happy to answer any questions and provide further information.  We are also happy to assist you with pressure washing and keeping your patios, walkways and decks safe and free from moss.

View our webpage about Patios and Walkways.

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