Winter maintenance can be daunting, especially in extremely cold temperatures and biting wind chills. But shoveling snow, clearing ice from the walkways, keeping trees protected and avoiding critter infestations are part of winter. These tasks make your home a safer place to visit and live. Thankfully several landscaping projects help to make these winter maintenance jobs easier, allowing you to enjoy the season in whatever way you know best.
People often debate this, but clearing snow from a flat paved surface is generally easier than shoveling an uneven cobblestone or brick walkway. Although this style of path presents a charming atmosphere in the spring, you may want to consider installing a concrete walkway for safer, more solid steps.
Stamped or colored concrete can give you the look of cobbled paths without the hassle of heaving and shifting stones. No matter what the frost does, your stamped concrete walkway will remain flat and ready to guide your shovel or snow blower down a smoother path.
For budget-minded homeowners asphalt paving will do just fine. Don't expect it to last the same number of years that a concrete pathway will, but asphalt goes down quickly, costs less and provides the same smooth surface. Think about sealing it against moisture to avoid cracking and be sure that a proper base is laid, no matter which type of paving you install.
Many homeowners still use salt to breakdown the ice build up on their driveways and walkways. Although salt is an effective ice melting substance, it can do some serious damage to your perennials, shrubs, trees and flowerbeds should they be positioned in a vulnerable place.
Pay attention to the direction of water runs off on your walkway and drive. If the salty water (aka melted ice) gets bogged down in the garden soil, at the base of a tree or around favorite shrubs and bushes you'll likely lose those plants from too much salt.
Consider moving the plants to an alternate location, one that is well out of the way of salty water run off. Or you could redirect the drainage using gravel and grading. This may allow the garden soil to remain healthy, while still directing the run off to the proper area.
Think about other methods of melting salt, including sand or urea. Both of these are generally harmless for the garden and grass - sand is often added to soil for better drainage and aeration, and urea is contained in many fertilizers.
Snow melting products can be permanently installed into your concrete, asphalt or interlock driveway. Available in either a cable system or as a matted design, these innovations literally melt away the snow as it builds up, eliminating the need to shovel or spread salt.
Electricity provides the heat and the placement of heating elements create the pattern. Heated driveways are available in tire track designs (leaving you just enough room to pull in safely and park) or full driveway applications. You can also choose to install a system in one half of your double driveway or concentrate solely on walkways, ramps or entrances.
Some snow melting products are portable, plugged in and ready to go wherever you place them. This works well at exposed entrances and when you want to get out the door easily after a vicious snowstorm. Call a professional to discuss installation costs, designs and the many options available for this high tech winter maintenance eliminator.
If ice and snow backups leave your eaves system strained and dangerous consider the effectiveness of heated gutters. These products use thermostats and sensors to trigger heated cables. This heat clears away the immediate snow or ice and provides a pathway for run off and drainage, making your roof and gutters safer.
Look at your attic insulation if ice dams present a danger. The differences in indoor and outdoor temperatures during the winter can result in major ice dams that tear off your gutters and damage plants and landscaping underneath. Large icicles also threaten visitors and pets that get in the way of falling ice and snow.
Prevent Drifting With Tree Screens
Evergreens work well as screens against blowing winds and large snow drifts. Although a build up of snow in your yard and on the gardens acts as an effective insulator from frost and ice, massive snow drifts take weeks to melt and will push back your gardening season. They also block entrance ways and make pulling out of your driveway more difficult due to reduced views.
Avoid having to spread out snowdrifts by planting mature coniferous trees and dense shrubs in strategic locations. While these plants will not completely block the blowing winds, they can catch a majority of snow build up with their dense branches and needles. This provides a clear area on the opposite side of the tree screen, which would be ideal for your walkways, patios, entrance ways and drive.
Think about where the wind typically blows during the winter season and where you have had to work on larger snowdrifts. Plant the trees to block those problems spots. Choose mature native trees for a low maintenance, dependable solution. Fall is an excellent time to plant and many professional landscapers offer specials on labor and specimens at this time of year.
Think about how selective landscaping projects make your winter maintenance tasks easier. Paving an old, uneven walkway allows for better snow clearance and a safer path. Creating better drainage or moving sensitive plants helps to avoid damage caused by salt use. Or to tap into more advanced ice melting techniques, consider how a heated driveway virtually eliminates shoveling. Heated gutters create a safe, open path for drainage and help avoid nasty ice build up on your roof and eaves. And well-planted evergreens create an effective wind block to reduce snowdrifts. All of these projects should be tackled before the snow falls, providing you with the most value this coming winter season.Posted by: TrustedPros