What Really Happens to Your Outdoor Living Space When Covered with Leaves and Snow?
Nashville, TN residents are often fortunate enough to enjoy warmer and milder weather throughout November, which means they can still get plenty of use out of their outdoor living spaces. That said, autumn conditions still pose a threat to your outdoor surfaces, and winter isn’t far behind. Whether you’re still enjoying your outdoor space or planning to pack it in for the season, it pays to take certain precautions to protect your exterior features. Indeed, fallen leaves and snow can do plenty of damage to your deck, patio, outdoor furniture, and house exterior. But what really happens to your outdoor living space when it’s covered in leaves and snow?
Let’s discuss the possible effects autumn and winter weather can have on your outdoor surfaces and what to do about them.
Effects of Autumn and Winter Weather on Your Outdoor Living Space
Surfaces Get Weighed Down
A leaf or single snowflake barely weighs anything, but when combined into piles, both leaves and snow can pack on the pounds, especially when densely packed together. On average, snow weighs about 20 lbs. per cubic foot (1.25 lbs. per inch of depth). After a significant snowstorm, your deck or patio can suddenly find itself under significant pressure. The same principle applies if you don’t regularly clear leaves from your outdoor living space (we all know how heavy a single bag of raked leaves can get). At first, this extra weight might not seem like a major threat to your outdoor living space -- after all, the average deck can withstand about 50-100 lbs. per square foot. Over time, however, this constant pressure can gradually weaken and warp the underlying surfaces, especially if they’re off the ground (i.e., a balcony or elevated deck).
Water Works Inward
Since snow is merely frozen water particles, it should come as no surprise that it can contribute greatly to moisture intrusion. Of course, fallen leaves can track water onto your outdoor living space as well. Whether from morning dew or rainfall, even the driest leaves can absorb moisture, which in turn makes them heavier. You don’t want your outdoor surfaces to be inundated with water for too long, especially if they’re not properly waterproofed. When moisture is present on these surfaces, it can quickly make its way into cracks, pores, and other openings, where it can then expand and contract with temperature fluctuations and provide nutrients for fungal growth (i.e., mold, mildew, rot). Before long, your deck or patio (as well as your exterior house paint) can start to break down as a result of this water brought forth by fallen leaves and snow.
Air Has a Hard Time Escaping
Significant amounts of leaves and snow also have a smothering effect, locking in both moisture and air between them and the surfaces beneath them. This lack of ventilation only exacerbates the problem described above -- without airflow, moisture can’t evaporate and instead stays put and/or seeps wherever it can. In other words, your outdoor surfaces won’t be able to dry off easily. Even if the sun makes an appearance, its rays won’t be able to reach the surface covered by leaves and snow until they have been removed.
Some Pests Can Find Shelter on Your Patio or Deck
Outdoor pests aren’t all that prominent during winter, but they’re certainly around during autumn. Moreover, many insects and small rodents will seek food and shelter wherever they can find it, which includes piles of leaves. So, if your outdoor living space is inundated with fallen leaves, it becomes an even more appealing destination for all sorts of unwanted visitors. And once these pests have made their way onto your deck or patio, they’ll likely start eating away at your surfaces, too (especially wooden features).
Staining Is Likely to Occur
Lastly, allowing leaves and/or snow to linger on your outdoor living space can result in surface discoloration, fading, and staining. These cosmetic flaws can sometimes point to deeper concerns such as rot and mold. If caught early on, mild staining can often be eradicated via pressure washing services. Otherwise, you may need to apply fresh coatings to conceal these negative visual outcomes from autumn and winter weather.
How to Protect Your Outdoor Living Space from Colder Conditions
To sum up, fallen leaves and snow can weigh down your outdoor living space, force water into pores and cracks, suffocate surfaces, and cause said surfaces to lose their visual appeal via staining, fading, and discoloration. Obviously, none of these outcomes are ideal. The question, then, is how to prevent or mitigate these potential negative effects. Now is the time to take action, too, since fall is already in full swing and winter is only a few short weeks away.
For starters, it’s crucial to keep your outdoor living space as clean as possible -- this goes for your entire home exterior, actually (you’ll want to pressure wash your gutters during fall to ensure they’re clear and functional when the snow starts to fall). Don’t allow leaves to build upon your deck. Depending on how many trees are near your home, you might want to sweep your deck or patio anywhere from once daily to once weekly. Keeping leaves at bay will prevent pest infestations, mitigate moisture intrusion, and more.
If you haven’t recently painted or stained your deck/patio, you might consider doing so before autumn comes to an end. Deck stain or paint won’t just enhance the look of your outdoor living space -- it will also shield it from moisture, UV rays, pests, and other environmental threats.
You might also think about removing and storing your outdoor furniture and covering its fixed surfaces with durable, breathable fabric to prevent leaves and snow from directly contacting them. Keep in mind that some coverings may further suffocate your outdoor living space’s surfaces, so make sure you invest in a material that’s light enough to allow some air to escape.
Fighting Back Against Fallen Leaves and Snow
Like it or not, nature is going to do its thing. And while you can’t control the weather or seasonal changes, you do have a say in how much or how little these elements affect your home’s exterior. The more precautions you take now, the fewer problems you’ll face in the future. So, stay on top of regular maintenance, consider coating your outdoor surfaces before winter, and invest in the right coverings for those features and surfaces you can’t move out of the way.
The experts at Nash Painting are happy to help you prepare your outdoor living space for the colder months to come. Whether you need assistance with pressure washing, staining, painting, carpentry, surface preparation, etc., we have you covered, along with our countless other clients across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!