Why You Should Remove Leaves from Your Deck
Few things in nature are more beautiful than the vibrant foliage of fall. But while many of us look forward to autumn’s annual cascade of colors and falling leaves, your property may pay the price. It’s no secret that a buildup of leaves can suffocate your lawn and clog your gutters. As you take care of these seasonal issues, however, don’t neglect your deck. When fall is in full force, you can expect leaves to land on your deck on a regular basis. If you let these leaves linger too long, your deck can suffer serious consequences and have an even harder time withstanding winter, which is right around the corner. Let’s dive deeper into the many reasons to regularly remove leaves from your deck this season and beyond.
Leaves Are an Eyesore
Fallen leaves are beautiful in their own right, but their charm quickly fades when you find them overwhelming your deck. Indeed, if your property is surrounded by trees, you might barely recognize your deck when autumn reaches its peak. You certainly won’t be able to enjoy the beauty of your deck stain if it’s buried by leaves. Whether you plan on having company over for crisp autumn gatherings or simply want to continue enjoying your outdoor space all season long, fallen leaves will dampen the experience -- this might be reason enough for you to get out and sweep your deck every day this fall.
Leaves Create Slippery Conditions
Aesthetics aside, a leaf-riddled deck can become hazardous. Dry leaves easily shift around (especially on a smooth surface such as your deck), so one wrong move can result in a slip, trip, or fall. Likewise, wet leaves are inherently slippery and can cluster together, creating conditions that are equally dangerous. Moreover, a layer of leaves can conceal other hazards on your deck, such as loose boards, holes, debris, sharp objects, other tripping hazards, and more. In other words, there is no situation in which an abundance of leaves on your deck doesn’t increase the risk of injury. Even if you don’t plan on using your deck all that often during fall, you don’t want anyone to get hurt when treading upon it. Simply put, removing leaves from your deck is an important safety measure.
Leaves Attract Pests
Though fallen leaves don’t look as alive as they once did, they’re still rich in nutrients that many pests crave -- and once these leaves are closer to the ground, it’s much easier for many pests to grab a bite. Leaf piles are also excellent shelters for small, sneaky creatures. In other words, a deck that’s riddled with leaves can quickly become a haven for beetles, termites, roaches, rodents, and more. Not only will these pests gnaw and rustle through the leaves -- they’ll also chew your deck’s wooden surfaces if they’re not well sealed with high-quality wood deck stain. Beyond that, these unwanted critters can end up inside your home, cause injury, and even spread disease. Needless to say, you want these pests to stay far away from your deck, and one way to keep them at bay is to prevent leaves from accumulating on and near your deck.
Leaves Can Leave Stains
We’ve all seen them -- ghost-like outlines of leaves left behind on sidewalks and other surfaces. The acidic oils found in fallen leaves start to decay after they land, slowly eating away the coatings on your deck. Eventually, this process can stain your deck (and not in the good way, either). While the leaf-shaped stamps are somewhat cool to look at, they can be difficult to remove. Some of these stains are easily washed away, but others may require the hand of a professional to safely remove. The more porous and vulnerable your deck, the more aggressive and stubborn the staining will be. And if you allow leaves to build up and linger, the resulting stains will become more and more difficult to remove. The best way to prevent this unwanted staining, then, is to simply keep leaves off your deck to the best of your ability.
Leaves Can Lead to Rot
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, wood rot is a common and pernicious problem faced by deck owners. The main culprit of rot is moisture, which can come from many sources, including fallen leaves. Leaves retain and trap moisture, creating damp conditions that are prime for mold, mildew, and other threats. In fact, some of the leaves that land on your deck may contain mold already. Even if your deck is protected by the best waterproof deck stain, it may be no match for an onslaught of damp, decaying leaves. The sooner you get rid of these leaves, the drier you can keep your deck and therefore stave off rot at the source.
Leaf Accumulation Weighs Down Your Deck
A single leaf barely weighs anything, but if you’ve ever raked and loaded leaves into bags, you know just how heavy a pile of leaves can become, especially when damp and densely packed. If you allow enough leaves to land on your deck over the course of fall, your deck may have to hold anywhere from a few extra pounds to an additional 20-40 lbs. Add precipitation (rain or snow) into the mix and your deck may just collapse under all the pressure. Repairing or replacing a collapsed deck is a major project, and one that you won’t easily accomplish until springtime at the very least. Regularly removing the leaves from your deck is a much better alternative to dealing with such an expensive and cumbersome project in the future.
How to Properly Remove Leaves from Your Deck
By now, it should be clear why it’s so important to continuously clear leaves from your deck. The question is: how should you approach this task? If you stay on top of things, removing leaves from your deck is a quick and easy process. When you’re only dealing with a small amount of dry leaves, you can simply sweep or blow them away with a broom or leaf blower. You can then pull out any leaves that end up stuck between deck boards with your gloved hands or push them through via a putty knife or other slim tool. If you’re dealing with stubborn leaves and stains, you might blast your deck with a pressure washer, making sure to stand at the proper distance and use the right power settings and cleaning solution.
It’s equally important to keep leaves from building up below your deck. Blow and rake these piles away from the deck and then bag them for proper disposal. Installing lattice work or another type of barrier underneath your deck can help prevent leaves from gathering there. To minimize the negative effects of leaf accumulation both below and on top of your deck, apply fresh deck paint or stain to its surfaces about every 2-3 years or as needed. Professional deck staining services can help you select the right type of coating for your deck based on its material and surrounding climate.
Don’t Leave Your Deck Behind this Fall
Whether or not you’re a fan of fall, your deck is no place for the season’s bounty of leaves. If you need help removing leaves from your deck, preventing related damage, and/or preparing your deck for whatever lies ahead, Nash Painting can help. We’ve fixed and fortified countless decks for homeowners across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!