December 18, 2014

Winters in Ann Arbor Michigan can be rough. The abundance of snowfall combined with the extreme temperatures can leave many homeowners feeling frustrated when the weather wreaks havoc on sidewalks and driveways. However, there are some things you can do to make snow removal easier.

Preventative MeasuresSam In A Field Of Fresh Snow

Taking preventative action now can save you a lot of time and effort later. When ice or snow are expected in the forecast, use a de-icer on your walkways and driveway a few hours before the weather hits. This will quickly melt ice and snow accumulations under two inches deep, and prevents larger accumulations from adhering to the cement. For every 1,000 square feet of surface area, expect to need about one gallon of de-icer.

Use a High-Quality Ice Melter

Rock salt is a popular de-icer because it’s cheap, widely available and effective in temperatures above 12 degrees. However, it’s extremely hard on your lawn, plants and pavement. If you have pets, it can also cause severe irritation to the pads of their feet. Instead, consider using calcium or magnesium chloride ice melters. These products are much milder, don’t irritate pets’ paws and remain effective at temperatures down to 25 degrees below zero. The only downfall is that they’re a tad more expensive, but the results can be worth it. No matter what kind of de-icer you’re using, make sure to wear gloves and protective glasses while spreading it. These chemicals can still cause irritation to skin and eyes. If you need to cover a large area, try using a broadcast spreader that can easily be pushed around. Use caution not to get any on your garden beds as these chemicals can harm plants. Store any remaining ice melter in a tightly sealed container away from water and out of reach of children.

Buy the Right Shovel

The snow shovel you choose can make all the difference between back-breaking labor and quick and easy snow removal. Depending on your needs, you should pick one that:

  • Is lightweight with an adequate length handle for your height
  • Has a metal or sturdy plastic blade with a no-stick coating
  • Doesn’t have an overly large blade, which would make it difficult to lift and toss the snow
  • Has a plastic blade to prevent damage if you want to shovel snow from a wooden surface
  • Is designed for pushing light, dry snow. These have a c-shaped blade to easily move snow, and some models feature wheels for easy walk-behind use.

Lay Down Plastic

Are you looking for a cheap, chemical-free way to prevent ice buildup on walkways? If so, a simple layer of thick black plastic might be all you need. You can find this in the painting section of any home improvement store, and one roll usually contains enough to last a long time. Simply cut a sheet of the plastic to the appropriate size of the area you want to cover and lay it down. If winds are high, as they often are in Ann Arbor Michigan, you may need to weigh the corners down with sand or bricks. When the sun shines, the black plastic will absorb heat and cause ice to melt more rapidly, allowing you to simply pull up the plastic and enjoy safe, ice-free walkways.