Maintenance

Product use and care

Watering of plants should be done in the early morning or cool evenings. Drip irrigation systems are the most effective way of watering and are best run on a timer. Urns and planters can be used in the winter months, but ensure that water-logging and subsequent freezing are avoided.

Any good compost can be used, except for those containing coconut husk, coir, or other material that will cause a brown staining, which is very difficult to remove from cast stone. The discoloration typically appears as a “rust” stain.

Urns, vases and planters can be cleaned in a similar manner to natural limestone. Use mild clear liquid soap, such as laundry detergent, with water and a medium stiff plastic brush. For more stubborn stains, muriatic acid can be used. Wet the stone with water and then apply a dilution of 10 percent muriatic acid to 90 percent water directly to the stone and agitate with a medium stiff plastic brush. Rinse immediately with water. Great care should be taken not to “burn” the stone. Do not use a pressure washer on any of our limestone products.

If you are interested in promoting lichen and moss growth on cast stone ornaments, seed and feed these lovely creatures with a homemade mixture brushed on the ornament. 

There are truly as many versions of this mix as there are moss types. A few of the ingredients include yogurt, beer, buttermilk, manure or compost – any of these would do the trick. But from our experience, the most important factors in promoting moss are:

  1. Using local moss from the surrounding area;
  2. With a blender, grinding up the moss in order to break the spore casings in mix in any of the previously mentioned ingredients;
  3. Keeping the garden ornament, with the moss mixture, damp and out of direct sunlight.

Happy mossing!

Our brass, bronze and copper sundials are made from non-ferrous metals and have no rustable parts.  They can be placed outside in all weather without the need for maintenance or attention and can be left to patina naturally.

If you would like to prevent further patination, keep the metal lightly oiled. WD40 is ideal for this and will keep the sundial in its present condition.

If the sundial has become too weathered for your taste, then first try cleaning the sundial with warm soapy water.  If you would like a more thorough clean, then you could use a gentle metal cleaner or a mixture of natural ingredients such as salt, lemon or vinegar to bring back the original shine.

Gleaming or wonderfully patinated, your sundial will bring beauty and pleasure to your garden for years to come!

Brrrrr... Winterizing cast stone ornaments

Garden ornaments are made to be outside. They come in a variety of sizes and materials that are direct factors of durability, but the Northern winter adds a complex twist that should not be forgotten. The most important considerations for winter are installation, drainage, and water expansion.

Installation: Proper winter preparations for any ornament begin with installation. Soil can erode in wet conditions, and heave in freezing conditions. A smooth solid base, with adequate drainage should always be considered. Stone-dust/gravel mix, combined with a top-layer of concrete is often used for many garden ornament installations to maintain a level surface.

Drainage: Accumulating moisture in any container, planter, fountain, trough, or basin can be very destructive if it freezes. As water turns to ice, the volume increases expanding horizontally which eventually causes cracking.

Bringing your ornament inside for the winter is the best way to preserve the structural integrity. If it is light enough to carry (empty) it’s best to bring it in. Add bows of evergreen, and you’ll have a nice piece to enjoy inside while the weather is cold.

Cover your piece with plywood and tarp or waterproof cover. If it is a container that can collect water, cut a piece of plywood slightly larger than the size of the opening, and place it under the tarp to make sure moisture rolls off the top. Other things could be used to keep the cover raised/taught. Basketballs work great for many planters!

Break the surface tension of freezing water with vertically placed logs. A container left empty for the winter is still vulnerable.  Layers of snow and ice build throughout the winter: one day could be snowing, the next day raining, followed by a deep freeze, and then snowing for days!   As the moisture inside the container accumulates and re-freezes, it will expand horizontally, and severe damage could occur rapidly.  Put two or more logs of 3”+ diameter inside the container that extend from top to bottom.   As the moisture re-freezes, it will expand vertically where the log protrudes through the surface.

Absorb the expansion pressure as moisture freezes inside a container. Use a plastic milk carton, 2-liter bottle, or a few 20oz bottles. Fill them halfway with sand, replace the cap loosely, and put the bottle(s) upright in the container. The expanding frozen moisture will crush the bottles before damaging your container. Note: Adding pinholes to some of the plastic bottle(s) will allow for varying levels of pressure relief.

Fountains - do's and don'ts

Water is one of the four ancient elements, and an integral part of our lives. Adding the sights and sounds of flowing water can transform your scene-scape into a relaxing retreat. With proper maintenance and upkeep, fountains and pools can be a source of pleasure for years.

Keeping water clean: Use a non-chlorine water algaecide-clarifier.  You could also place your pump in a mesh bag so that the natural debris is prevented from entering and clogging your pump. 

Adjusting water flow: Most pumps and plumbing kits come with an adjustable flow regulator. Some fountains use pumps with a flow regulator. Large fountains use flow control valves in the plumping pipework.

A yearly inspection of the pump is recommended along with a cleaning of the pump and filter every 6 months.  

Fountains are not designed to operate in sub-zero temperatures. Ensure that fountains are drained of water and place the pump on brick or wood blocks so it doesn’t sit in any freezing water.

Once drained, the fountain should be covered with a breathable, waterproof cover to keep moisture out.

In addition to covering the fountain, we also recommend putting a large piece of burlap or blanket in the basin in case water collects. Bunch up the burlap and place it around the centerpiece fountain. This breaks the tension of any freezing water that may collect at the basin’s bottom.

Plastic milk cartons, or plastic two-liter bottles could also be used to prevent damage from freezing water.  Fill them halfway with sand, replace the cap loosely, and then place the bottles, standing straight up, in the container. This allows expanding frozen moisture to crush the plastic bottles before damaging your fountain basin or container.

During the springtime, once the threat of frost is over, the fountain pool can be refilled.

Mortar and repairing

If you have a slight crack in your ornamental piece, it usually can be repaired with the steps below.

  1. Clean out the crack by gently removing any dirt or loose debris.
  2. Tape directly over crack, then cut through masking tape with utility knife.
  3. Care should be taken to keep adjacent stone clean.
  4. Seal (fill) crack with elastomeric sealant then dust in pointing mix.
  5. Let cure.
  6. Recheck crack area for voids.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
  8. If on fountain or pool exposed to constant water, area may be waterproofed using a clear masonry sealant.

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