How to Ensure your Front Steps and Walkway are Safe this Winter

house-snowWhether you’re a commercial facility looking to safeguard its assets and insurance premiums, or a parent who wants to keep her family safe through landscape design and maintenance, the tips below can help you keep your front steps, and walkway safe this winter:

  • Understand the Science of Melting Ice

    When you first go to buy ice melting material, you will likely be taken aback by the endless myriad of options. As it turns out, there is a science to melting dangerous ice patches, and it’s all about keeping them from thawing, refreezing, and forming black ice across your landscape design elements. Black ice is a very slippery, barely visible winter by-product, and it’s extremely dangerous. You can counteract any black ice formation on your landscape design by using an ice melting substance that helps prevent thawing, and refreezing. Such substances include rock salt, potassium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, a more environmentally-friendly option. Avoid substances like calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, ammonium chloride, and aluminum chloride, which tend to refreeze more quickly.

    A point to keep in mind with rock salt is that while it works for temperatures above 12 degrees (Fahrenheit), it can potentially damage nearby plants, trees, and shrubs.
  • Sand

    Contrary to popular belief, sand is not an ice melting substance. It simply provides an abrasive grip for your landscape design elements, and greatly improves traction. As such, it should not be used to melt ice, but rather, to provide basic traction that can help prevent slips and falls. However, before you coat your property with sand, know that it isn’t water soluble. If you use too much, it won’t drain properly, and you’ll have to clear it out after the spring thaw.
  • Landscape Lighting

    Landscape lighting is an often overlooked solution to the winter weather, but when you consider the reduced number of daylight hours, and the reduced visibility, it makes a lot of sense. Solar lights, or lights hard-wired into a larger system can help illuminate walkways safely. Each landscape lighting system has its own benefits, and detractions. Solar, for example, doesn’t last as long, but has a cheaper setup cost.
  • Elbow Grease

    There’s simply no getting around shovelling your walkway (other than paying a company to do it). A well-maintained winter walkway needs to have snow removed from it regularly, in order to decrease the amount of compacted snow that may create slippery ice patches.
  • Downspouts

    Downspouts are critical to funnelling water off your roof, but they can also wreak havoc on your walkways. If you have a downspout that expels even a small amount of water, it can create dangerous ice spots beneath it. Be sure to angle them away from walkways, and steps.

For more winter safety, and winter landscape design tips, contact us.

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