When landscaping needs a bit of help, the signs are usually visible. Yellowing grass tells you it needs water, and deep cracks in the soil say the same thing. Odd depressions in the grass and unexpected mud will alert your landscaping team about problems with the irrigation. The surrounding plants also have various signs and symptoms.
Hardscaping is exactly the same way. Damage can develop over time, especially if your region has distinct seasons. Stones can jut out, features can break, and large slabs can tilt. But one of the most common types of damage is the development of cracks. While every hardscape is vulnerable to cracks, different types of cracks can alert you and your landscapes to the underlying problem.
Do your hardscape features have cracks along the grout lines?
While most industrial-strength grout materials aren’t weak, the point of contact between bricks and the grout is the weakest area in flat features. If you have a wide horizontal surface, like a footpath or a fountain, then cracks in the grout mean that the soil is shifting underneath them. The problem will grow over time.
Grout cracks in vertical surfaces like retaining walls also point to shifts in the soil. But the shifting means the layers in the brick construction no longer line up. Your hardscaping team may be able to just add more grout to support the weight without a large-scale reconstruction project.
Do wide surfaces have a bunch of hairline cracks and spalling?
If you have concrete features that were poured onsite, they also cured onsite. That means all of the moisture in the material slowly worked itself up through the surface, and that process left you with a weak surface, or latent layer. Winter moisture gets trapped in the latent layer then expands and contracts during freezing cycles. This scars the surface of your concrete features, so make sure the surface is ground down and sealed.