Fall can be such a gorgeous time of year. The eye-catching colors of the leaves are beautiful. So beautiful in fact, that you’re probably not in a big hurry to remove them from where they land.

Plus, it’s getting cold and windy outside this time of year. And Mother Nature blew them in, so you can wait for her to blow them away, right?

Wrong.

Those leaves piling up on or underneath your deck are no good. Fallen foliage can cause all kinds of unsuspecting problems.

Don’t let the season pass you by before you remove them. Your Colorado custom decking installation crew at SRI is here to help you understand why fall leaf removal is important to do sooner rather than later.

Please Don’t Leave the Leaves!

(Emma Frances Logan/Unsplash)

Stains

It doesn’t take long for fallen leaves to stain your deck or patio. In fact, if not cleared away, leaves can discolor the materials on a deck or patio within as little as a week.

All leaves have natural oils in them that vary from tree species to tree species. The oils start to break down as the leaves die at the end of summer. Those varying oils will cause different hues and levels of discoloration.

More than staining, though, the breakdown of the acidic oils from decaying leaves can degrade deck and concrete sealants. Even composite decking and heartier woods aren’t immune to the effects.

The more porous the materials, the deeper the stains will go. Stains seep deeper and are more difficult to remove on concrete patios.

Moisture Build-up

Mildew. Mold. Rot– all prevented by removing leafy debris.

Leaf build-up creates trapped moisture. Continual moisture against your decking boards causes mildew and mold, which can stain.

What’s more dangerous, though, is that prolonged moisture can rot your wood. Rotting wood makes for a hazardous deck and costs you more to repair or replace than if you had maintained a cleaner structure.

Dry conditions

At the opposite end of the spectrum from moisture build-up, are the dry conditions Colorado is prone to. Dried leaves are a fire hazard, especially if you have a heat source on your deck or patio.

Weight

The weight your custom residential deck holds should not exceed certain limits. Too much, and your structure is in danger of collapsing.

You may think that dead leaves couldn’t possibly add much weight to your structure, but consider the impact that wet leaves plus heavy snow could have on it. Your deck is probably already holding furniture, plants, and perhaps a grill. Wet leaves coupled with a thick layer of snow could spell disaster for the person walking across it.

Don’t Ignore Below Deck

Leaves that pile up underneath your deck are just as risky to your structure’s well-being as the ones on it. Mold, mildew, and rot concerns are just as present underneath, where there’s typically less light.

Dry leaves are still as much of a fire hazard. Any heat source could have your deck and home quickly engulfed in flames.

In addition, those leaves underneath become an inviting sanctuary for pests and creepy crawlies. Home invasions by those little critters or having them make a meal out of your woodwork could follow.

Prevention Plan

Armed with a sturdy rake, broom, or leaf blower/vacuum combo, you can prevent unsightly stains and avoid structural damage to your deck. Weekly removal of leaves will save you time and money come springtime.

The same goes with any leaf pile up underneath your deck. Regular maintenance will save you future headaches. A rake, leaf blower, or leaf vacuum will protect your space from too much moisture, fuel for wildfires, and unwanted inhabitants.

One last defense strategy for the underside of your deck is to consider putting up a physical barrier. You can easily find and install something like latticework from a home improvement store. It adds a nice look to your yard, hides the typically undecorated underpart, and simplifies your job of keeping out leaves and rodents.

Deck skirting is another physical barrier option. It fully encloses the gap between your deck and the ground. There are no openings as with lattice. Instead, solid boards are installed next to each other in this type of barrier. It’s a bit more expensive and labor intensive than lattice but offers full coverage.

A Little Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Letting fall foliage accumulate on your Colorado deck this time of year is tempting. We get it–it’s cold, windy, and not on your priority list, but we hope this guide will remind you to put leaf clean-up on your to-do list. Leaf piles are more problematic than they may seem.

A little bit of weekly upkeep for a few short weeks can save you the headache, time, and money spent in the spring when people typically start spending more time in their outdoor spaces. You’ll have fewer stains on your deck to clean, less mold and mildew to contend with, and no extra expenses with repairing rotting wood.

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