February 20, 2016

bigstock-Ice-on-roof-and-gutters-52324966Integrating storm water management features into a residential landscape is a great way to avoid erosion, protect the home from water damage, and keep nearby waterways clean. The trouble is that these additions are mainly premised on utilizing liquid water, and in the Ann Arbor MI area, outdoor water isn’t liquid for part of the year. To contend with this exception to the rule, certain modifications can be built into storm water control elements that combine with special practices to ensure the desired goals are achieved throughout the year.

Snow Threats
When rain turns to ice and snow, it can thwart the functioning of various stormwater control systems through the following means.

*Freezing porous surfaces
*Water turning to ice
*Accumulating snow in piles and drifts
*Concentrating pollutants

One or more of these problems can interfere with any of the typical water management practices used by the average homeowner. Here are some useful ways to overcome these difficulties.

Trapping the Snow
Shrubbery and tall grasses not only help impede rain runoff from reaching storm drains in warmer weather, they also trap blowing snow that can pile up around the foundation of the house. In the process, they allow it to soak into the ground whenever a warm spell permits melting. The key here is not to trim them back in the fall.

Deposit Areas
Rain gardens, swales, dry wells, and similar landscape features can serve as holding areas for excess snow and ice removed from the driveway. To work in the context of winter, they need to be established adjacent to the pavement. If the snow is moved to sloping ground, it will flow off during any mid-winter thaw periods since frozen soil warms slowly in the early spring.

Chemical Control
Of course, even without such landforms, an important winter storm water management practice is to use non-polluting snow melting chemicals like calcium magnesium acetate instead of road salt. Even better, avoid chemicals altogether by clearing the snow manually before it’s compressed into ice. Since dumping snow in a swale concentrates any melting agents in a relatively small spot, pollution-neutralizing plants like alpine pennycrest and sunflowers can be added that can help neutralize any pollutants in the melting snow. Other plants like helleborus or eryngium can tolerate a certain amount of salt.

Rain Barrels
One popular and compact control device for dealing with runoff is the rain barrel. This is piece of storm water management equipment that just isn’t designed for winter around the Ann Arbor MI region. It’s possible for snow on the roof to melt now and then during the winter and flow through the downspouts to a connected rain barrel. If enough of this water accumulates, it can re-freeze and expand. This is bad news for the barrel. When the cold temperatures settle in, it’s time to disconnect them and cover them to keep out damaging snow. A trough that redirects any water towards a collection spot in the yard should take the rain barrel’s place.

Get your yard looking its absolute best with custom landscaping solutions from Twin Oaks. Find us online at https://www.twinoakslandscape.biz/, visit us in Ann Arbor, MI at 4100 South Maple Road, or call us at (734) 213-6911.