By John Voket
With slippery season quickly approaching for many folks across the country, I want to help you be prepared with some ideas about how to apply environmentally-friendly de-icing around your property.
Diane MacEachern at The Daily Green (thedailygreen.com) recently posted a package of eco-friendly ways to de-ice your walks and driveway including:
- Snow shovel – Minimize snow and ice by shoveling, and the sooner after snow stops falling, the better.
- Go electric – If you prefer to use a snowblower, get an electric model. Gas-powered blowers generate a lot more air and noise pollution.
- Get a grip – Scatter sand or even birdseed for traction. The grains won’t melt snow or ice, but they will give you more grip on icy surfaces.
- Scrimp on the de-icer – Remember, the job of a de-icer is to loosen ice from below to make it easier to shovel or plow. The recommended application rate for rock salt is around a handful per square yard you treat. Calcium chloride will treat about 3 square yards per handful.
- Pick your salt carefully – If you do use salt, choose wisely. Sodium chloride (NaCL) may contain cyanide. Calcium chloride (CaCl) is slightly better since less goes farther, but it is still not ideal, since its run-off still increases algae growth, which clogs waterways. Potassium chloride is another salt to avoid.
- Whatever you use – Keep it away from landscape plants, especially those that are particularly salt-sensitive, like tulip poplars, maples, balsam firs, white pines, hemlock, Norway spruce, dogwood, redbud, rose bushes and spirea bushes.
- Skip the kitty litter/wood ashes – Neither melts snow and ice, and they get messy when it warms up.
- Avoid nitrogen-based urea – Products with this additive are more expensive and not effective once the temperature drops below 20°F. Plus, the application rate for urea during a single deicing is ten times greater than that needed to fertilize the same area of your yard. Remember that the urea you apply to the ground will eventually run off into the street, down the drain, and into lakes and streams.