The Benefits of Scrubbing Wooden Benches

Since deadwood is all the rage in the bonsai world, here’s quite a bit of it. Amazing we could find so much that was nice and straight, right?

Scrubbing benches with a bristle brush removes the buildup of algae and mold, helping to resist the decomposition of the wood. You will likely find the undersides of most wooden benches to be quite fresh looking. There is rarely a need to flip the bench and scrub the other side.

If you look closely, lumps of recently scrubbed off algae cover the boards, soon to be washed off-

If you look closely, small lumps, clots, and mounds of recently scrubbed off algae cover the boards, soon to be washed off with a hose. Bobby sporting stripes, as usual. His stripy wardrobe has migrated to headgear, too.

And not just algae is removed. When we scrub, minute loose, decomposed wood particles are taken off that otherwise with a hard rain end up attached to the sides of our pots, like spackling. So this aerobic activity has an aesthetic benefit as well. Blasting with some Freddie Mercury or Maria Callas might help to loosen dirt, too. (We didn’t, just a suggestion.)

Try doing this during a wet week in the late fall or early spring, when trees are in winter quarters and already off the benches. A rain will loosen the organic buildup and make it easier to brush off. Mostly this is mechanical, although some may prefer the addition of Chlorox. Be sure to wash off with a strong hose blast before the scrubbed areas have dried…otherwise, rescrubbing commences. Which might be just another opportunity to play Callas, for some.

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  1. Judy Fister says:

    Love opera in the background for bonsai work (Sat.1 pm date with Metropolitan Opera); keeps circulation going for wiring….maybe Callas would be good for scrubbing, but prefer tenors…..remember “A Fish Called Wanda?”

  2. Bill Swain says:

    Thinking a little dose of lime sulfur might not be bad either

  3. Mary Miller says:

    In addition to the overall appearance, maintaining benches is important to keep pests away … borers, ants, root mealy bugs (in the tropics) and more!

  4. Ann Mudie says:

    ‘I want to break free’ by Freddie would be my preference

  5. jerozek2014 says:

    Pressure washers work well too.

    • crataegus says:

      I try to keep a noise-minimum yard, to the point of banning leaf blowers and such, and prefer the longer hours and exercise of scrubbing. Although my neighbors are loud enough, it’s just a dumb, hard-headed choice not to be more efficient.

  6. backcountrydan says:

    The “Bonsai Bandit” is his new title!… 😉 lol
    The man loves his stripes.

  7. Your aunt Bobbie says:

    Pressure washers are actually not good for wood. There is the summer growth and the winter growth in the wood. I don’t remember which is softer, but pressure washing gouges the softer growth, resulting in a surface that is no longer smooth, but ridged.

  8. carterbeall says:

    why not just cover them in a stain and sealant to prevent the need for this?

  9. Vinegar, after rained I spray vinegar on the bench then scrubbed it on each side. wash with water.

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