With summer on the horizon, now is the time to really start planning ways to maintain that beautiful garden pergola. The truth is a well-cared for pergola doesn’t require a lot of maintenance in most cases. All it takes is just one or two days and some careful preparation to get your pergola, and all your Redwood furniture for that matter, ready for the warm season. Just that little bit of effort will ensure your patio and garden look their best so you can spend your summer focusing on fun.
As with most things, it starts with a good cleaning. No matter where you live, your garden pergola has been through some wear and tear during the winter. Whether it is surviving the snow or just enduring the cold, wet rain, the wood of the structure gets caked with dirt and grime that will eventually damage it.
Fill a bucket with some soapy water. You don’t need a fancy cleaning product. A mild dishwashing soap is good enough. Avoid anything harsh like spray cleaners that are chock full of chemicals. Pick up a brush that has soft bristles to scrub with and go at it. Rub hard enough to remove the dirt but not so hard that you gouge or scrape the wood.
Pay special attention to problem areas. For instance, if you keep your grill near one post, there may be built up grease on the Redwood. Use some elbow grease to get everything clean, then rinse the soap off with a hose and let the pergola sit for a few days to dry.
Examine the Structure
Now that the pergola is clean, walk around and examine it to look for damaged areas. If necessary, get a professional in to replace key structural elements like weight bearing posts. If you wait until after the summer, you just stress these areas more.
If you do need replacement parts, keep the exact forestry in mind. If the pergola is Redwood or cedar, then so should be the replacement part.
Do Some Touch Ups
Most of the pergola kits come with touch up supplies. If there are small surface dings or cracks, sand them down with 80 to 100 grit paper and then go over them again with 150 to 220 grit paper. Save the sawdust to fill holes. Mix it with quality wood glue and use it as putty filler.
Once you determine that the structure is good, go around and touch up the stain where needed. If you find the stain is looking a little tired, consider a complete makeover. Give the wood a light sanding and apply a coat of quality finish and let it dry for at least 24 hours. Add a second coat and let dry for 48 hours. Hand rub a third coat on to complete the work.
Trim the Straggly Vines
If your pergola is adorned with some climbing vines, give it a quick trim. The vines are nice to look at but they do add weight to the unit. Trimming the older growth away helps relieve some of that stress while allowing the newer vines to thrive. You are going to want to cut the vines a couple more times during the year just to keep the foliage from getting too heavy.
If this is the year you decide to plant on your pergola, look for vines that climb up the posts instead of rest only on the ceiling. Clematis is a good choice because it climbs well and flowers abundantly. If you prefer a duskier bloom, honeysuckle not only looks good, it will smell nice, too. If you want something with even more of a scent, Jasmine will grow year round in warm climates and spring up annually in the cooler ones.
Look Beyond the Pergola
Since you are sprucing things up anyway, make sure to give the Redwood furniture and other accessories that sit under your pergola some love, too. Wash down the furniture and, if necessary, refinish it at the same time.
No doubt a pergola brightens things up in the yard come summertime, but not if it looks tired and dirty. Get yours ready for the pool parties and barbecues now, so you have time for the more important things this summer.