Winter jobs: clean up outside with a pressure washer

Lia Leendertz
January is a perfect time to pressure wash the green algae from paving - E+

The accumulation of slime is one of the less delightful aspects of the winter garden. When paving gets wet and stays that way, a layer of green algae forms, making pathways slippery and dangerous. Happily, this is a fun job to rectify.

Choose a mild day and don all your waterproofs - you will get wet -  then blast the paving with a pressure washer (they are widely available for day hire if you don't own one yourself, and you will get a lot done in a day). It is deeply satisfying turning the gloomy green back to its bright, original colour but don't get carried away; on many garden features a little algae works as characterful weathering so make yourself stick to hazardous flooring and don't be tempted to blast your cherub status back to factory fresh. 

Paths or paving should have a gentle slope to encourage water to drain away, but if water pools you might want to consider improving drainage. On a large expanse of paving this can be impossible to remedy without major work, but on either side of paths digging small channels and filling them with gravel can help. 

Using a pressure washer to clean paving is both effective and fun Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

Gloomy shade can also be an underlying cause of slime, so look at whether pruning any overhanging branches might allow in extra light and air to help dry the path.

While you have the pressure washer out this is also a good moment to clean water butts, which get pretty slimy themselves. Let the collected water run away, disconnect the butt from the drainpipe, and then turn it on its side and blast out the slime (if you don't have a pressure washer you can do this job by crawling in with scrubbing brush and soapy water). Leave the butt upside down to drain dry and then reconnect: there will be plenty of winter rains yet to refill it for spring.