Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gentle Maintenance

Recently we removed a low boxwood hedge that was blocking a good half of the entry walkway of the house. Doing so revealed an unsightly pattern of urban fallout on the cement.  I dithered for a few days about how to bring the surface up to visual snuff. A painter had scarred the back walk with a thoughtless pass of a power washer that took several years to fade.

Historically, Seattle's water supply has been more than ample. When we moved in, it was standard practice to wash the walks with a focussed stream from an ordinary hose. Increasing demand led the city to recommend conservation, and I simply used a corn broom on the walks after that. The bristles of a natural broom contain silicon that leaves an elegant "sickle polish" on the natural pebbles in old cement.

Nothing can match the look of an old cement walk that's been swept and then gently washed, though. Over the week-end, I sprayed a short section of the walk with the hose, let it soak a bit, and then made a pass with the nozzle set to stream. Once the cement dried, it looked pretty good. One more session should bring it back. 

Washing with an ordinary hose clears the porous surface of old cement without leaving it looking bleached. I doubt that the procedure uses any more water than assaulting an ancient hardscape hardscape with a power washer. -30-

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