When it comes to maintaining your landscaping features, power washing is a very time and cost effective way to bring renewed vitality to your projects. While we touched briefly on this topic in our maintenance article for interlocking pavers, we will give a more detailed breakdown of the necessary materials and approximate cost of such an endeavor.
When it comes to power or pressure washers, they come in all shapes and sizes. There are gas ones and electric ones. There are countless brands. You can buy or you can rent. But how does one know which ones to get?
Gas pressure washers are generally more powerful than electric and being the traditional power generation technique, occupies the majority of the market. This is, however, starting to change with more environmentally conscious consumers. Due to the lack of catalytic converters, your average small landscaping tools whether it’s a leaf blower or lawn mower, pollutes far more than their size would suggest. This is due to the inability for the engines to efficiently combust its fuels.
The two stats you want to look for are GPM (or gallons per minute) and PSI (pounds per square inch). The former tells you the flow rate, that is volume of water being pumped through. The latter tells you the pressure, that is how strongly the water is being forced out. Together they work in tandem to give you the actual power and abrasiveness of the machine.
If you are looking at setting aside one day a year to pressure wash, renting would make more financial sense. This is because the average rental cost is somewhere between $50 – 100 a day while buying a machine would be between $500 – 1500 depending on the power of the machine. Additionally, there are maintenance schedules that must be adhered to so the machine will operate after long periods of storage.
How much GPM and PSI do I need?
You want a middle ground between having enough abrasive power to get the dirt and grime off your landscape without damaging them or any coatings. Typically you will want around 2000 – 3000 PSI. This is where you will find electric and gas powered pressure washers. Any higher and you start risking damaging landscape surfaces. You want to scrub not blast your surfaces.
For the average residential landscape job, any GPM over 1.0 GPM is sufficient. More than that and you are just wasting water.
Nozzles and Other Attachments
The type of nozzle you get is extremely important. They are color coded and standardized. Typically for your average residential landscape job, you will want a green or white nozzle, which are 25 degrees and 40 degrees respectively. The angle of attack determines how strong and concentrated the flow is. Too strong and it will damage your surface, too weak and it won’t do the job efficiently. These can be had for less than $10.
You’ll also want to buy a surface cleaner. For $100, this nifty tool allows you to clean large areas such as patios, driveways, and sidewalks far more efficiently. By increasing the surface area about 5 fold over a conventional nozzle but without sacrificing pressure and performance, this is a must have extension for cleaning any large horizontal surfaces. When purchasing, make sure it is rated for the appropriate PSI of the power washer itself.
For interlocking pavers, you will also need to buy joint sand. A bag covering about 200 – 300 sq ft can be had for $15 or so. Beware that it is quite heavy at 75 lbs per bag. Such sand can be found at many landscaping supply stores and yards. When applying, ensure the surface is completely dry. You will also need a push broom to fill in the cracks. A good power washing of interlocking pavers will wash out a lot of the gunk that weeds and moss like to take hold in within the joints of the pavers. Refilling that wish joint sand ensures your pavers do not turn mossy green in a week.
You will also want a face shield, water proof boots, and an outfit that you don’t mind getting filthy. There will generally be a lot of dirt blown back at the user due to the immense forces being generated. These equipment will be useful for other landscaping projects as well.
With equipment rentals, transportation, and materials cost, you are looking at a minimum of $200 – $300 for an average sized driveway or paver patio and a good day to get it done. If you are interested in hiring it out, Triton Landscaping does offer pressure washing services to Victoria BC for $75 an hour with 2 hour minimums.