Considering maintenance

Paved surfaces require little maintenance unless you make the mistake of painting them. Don't waste your money on sealers and stains, which often contain toxic and air polluting ingredients. Instead, leave surfaces to age naturally and gracefully. If you must use a finish, choose nontoxic, low VOC materials (VOCs are air-polluting chemicals that evaporate from many finishes as they cure).

Ground covers require weeding, watering, and other normal plant care. Choose species that are adapted to your area, and research their needs before making your decision.

Concrete patios just need a sweeping every now and then. Wood decks can be a little more demanding; they need periodic power-washing, sanding, and refinishing. Plastic lumber decks just need power washing.

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