Pressure washing is a relatively quick and effective way to clean a home. It boosts a property’s curb appeal and clears away mold, mildew, and dirt that can gradually eat away at the home’s structure. Unfortunately, too often the pressure washing process results in damage to shrubs and other plants around the home. If you want to protect your plants, even during a pressure wash, take the following precautions.
The Proper Mix
Pressure washing is not just a matter of spraying pressurized water at a building. The process also involves laying down a coat of cleaning solutions to eat away at grime and debris before rinsing it off. Some of these chemicals, especially bleach, can be harmful to the greenery surrounding your home.
The trick is to find cleaning solutions that are environmentally friendly. There are many commercially-available detergents that fit such a description. It is also wise to dilute the cleaning solution down. Try a ratio of 10:1 water:detergent. You can also protect your plants by adding a neutralizing agent to your cocktail of cleaners. These balance out the chemicals used to clean.
Unfortunately, sometimes bleach is necessary to kill harmful biological agents such as mold and other fungus. If you need to use bleach in your pressure wash, you can still help protect your plants by adding a surfactant to the mixture. These components improve the adherence of bleach on the building itself, minimizing runoff into your flowerbed. Because of this property, surfactants also reduce the amount of bleach required for a good clean.
Rinse and Repeat
Water is obviously a big part of the pressure washing process. While it may seem like a risk to add more into the bargain, believe it or not, rinsing both before and after a pressure wash is one of the most powerful ways to protect your plants during the process.
You may be a bit incredulous at the suggestion to rinse your plants before pressure washing, but doing so will saturate your plants so they don’t absorb the chemically-treated water of the wash. Rinsing will also dilute the chemicals further before they interact with the plant itself. You can use something as simple as a garden hose to pre-soak your property’s plants.
Rinsing after a pressure wash is also vital. Cleaning solutions left on your plants run the risk of chemically burning them, leaving brown patches. Runoff from bleach leaves salt behind that actually dehydrates plants by impeding their ability to soak up water. Rinsing residual salts away negates this problem.
Once the cleaning solutions used in a pressure wash dry, they generally become inert. That being said, if they are not allowed to dry—for example, if it rains within days of the wash—those chemicals will stay active longer, increasing the risk that they run off into your landscaping. Minimize the problem by diluting with a rinse.
Covering plants has long been a go-to method of protecting plants during a house wash. However, there are risks to this process. Plants that remain covered for too long can suffocate as their carbon dioxide supply is cut off. They can also overheat as a result of the greenhouse effect that is produced under a tarp in the sun. Lastly, if you are not cautious, covering your plants with a tarp may cause chemical runoff to pool at their root systems.
The way to protect your plants even when employing the use of tarps is to be quick and efficient with them. Cover only the sections of your flower beds that are in close proximity to the portion of the property being cleaned. As soon as the wash in that area is finished, remove the tarps to the next section. The process is tedious and time consuming, but it will give your plants a fighting chance.
Redirect The Runoff
The water used in a pressure wash has to have somewhere to go. If you want to protect your plants from damage, the ideal destination for runoff is not among your shrubs. The best way to alter the course of chemically-rich runoff is to bag your downspouts. This removes the contaminated water from the picture entirely: once the process is finished, you can simply remove the bags and dispose of them. Alternatively, you can use a bucket to catch the unwanted water.
Trust Westchester Power Wash to Protect Your Plants
If you want to make sure all these methods to protect your plants are followed properly, the best way is to entrust the process to the professionals. As we pressure wash your property, we will apply all detergent layers from the ground up, creating a barrier to chemical run-off. In addition to providing your home with a sparkling clean, our experienced team will prioritize your plant preservation.