When it comes to removing algae and mould from driveways and paved patios, there are two ways to go about it; splitting the nation into the “do-it-yourself-” ers and the “pay a professional-” ers.
Why do I need to remove algae from my driveway?
While a build-up of algae and mould is unsightly and can make the outside of your house looked unkept, a more pressing issue is the unstable surface it causes. Creating a slip hazard as soon as a drop of rain or touch of frost hits.
The internet is, as always, full of weird and wonderful solutions; ranging from tips to avoid algae, ways to eliminate it, and even ways to dress it up and turn your driveway into a tropical wonderland.
This article looks at some of the best ways to remove a build-up of algae and restore your driveway to its former glory, exploring both professional and more DIY-style solutions.
What is the value of paying a professional to do it?
Let’s start with the professionals – arguably the easiest and most cost-effective option, given its effectiveness and guarantee of a ‘good job well done’.
As soon as the sun starts to shine, there is something within us that tells us its ‘time to sort out the garden’ – pushing us all to become budding gardeners overnight, and prompting a mad rush to the nearest homeware store on the first sunny weekend of the year. Pressure washers are one of the first things to be snapped up, with hoards of people arriving home with a pricey piece of equipment – and no idea how to use it.
Enter the professionals.
How would a professional remove the algae from my driveway?
A van equipped with the highest quality jet washers and years of expertise, professional outdoor cleaners tend to charge around £300 for a standard driveway. They will not only clean the outer edges of every paving stone on your driveway but will also seal it against future algae and mould.
One of the most significant selling points of bringing in a professional is, of course, their experience. Far too often we see individuals who have bought their pressure washer, only to cause irreversible damage by pressure washing an area of paintwork or patio which couldn’t withstand the pressure.
Aside from the traditional pressure spray, there is another power washing fixture on the market, used by many professional cleaners to ensure a perfect finish. This style of wash creates a more even spread over the surface area, using the latest three jet Whirlaway washing away the mould, algae and perennial weeds. Without the potential for damage which comes with the single spray turbo wand.
In short, bringing in an expert opens up a world of options you may not have considered, and you can rest assured the job will be done quickly and effectively, with the highest possible chance that your driveway will remain bright for a decent amount of time. Cleaning companies tend to recommend that you bring in a pressure washer cleaner twice a year, to cover not only driveways but also patios and outer walls.
What if I want to do it myself?
Then we come to those who are keen to try it for themselves.
The first thing to remember is that most home remedies for algae removal are not speedy processes, and can often take time if you want to achieve the optimum results. One of the most popular methods uses vinegar or bleach, mixed with water and spread over the affected area.
• Vinegar is a well-known popular remedy for weeds, and so can work wonders on your patio algae – be careful to avoid spraying it onto any plants or grass you wish to keep, as it will kill them off very quickly.
• Bleach is another option that provides a robust clean. Should be used last resort due to its negative environmental impact, which can cause harm to surround grass and plant life if you’re not careful and do not combine it with sufficient water.
After spraying the affected area and leaving it to settle for a few minutes, use a stiff outdoor broom to brush away both the vinegar mix and the loosened algae. You will need some elbow grease, so make sure you are feeling energetic – then rinse the whole area with water.
Kill the algae off by using its worst enemy against it – sunlight
Another popular method, and one of the most natural, is to try and kill the algae off by using its worst enemy against it – sunlight. Algae and mould cannot grow in dry heat, so increasing sun exposure is the easiest and most natural way to kill the algae, leaving it free to be brushed away. Of course, if the algae have set in deeply between your driveway stones, then this may not be sufficient to remove the problem at its root, but it may help to remove the top layer of algae and leave the deeper layers exposed for a more effective treatment.
Other home remedies include:
• Adding lime to the problem area
• Throwing on ashes from a fireplace
• Applying tea tree oil
– although the majority of online forums and experts put pressure washing as the top of their list.
How do I prevent algae from becoming a problem in the future?
Of course, they do say that prevention is better than cure, and in this case, we tend to agree. You can avoid algae from sprouting between your driveway and patio blocks by ensuring the area attracts regular sunlight.
But if removing your algae is the only means forward, then pressure washing is by far the most effective and least harmful on the surrounding environment.