When people here think of outdoor routine winter maintenance, the first thought is usually snow removal. Here at Mirage Landscaping, your premier full service residential and commercial landscaping maintenance firm in Calgary, we can handle all of your snow removal needs.
However, there is another unavoidable feature of winter weather that you are pretty much totally responsible for. Unless you are contracted with us for de-icing visits, when it is not snowing, you have to expect to keep up with your own de-icing obligations. Keeping your sidewalks continuously clear of ice can be a challenge during Calgary winters. Here, strong sunlight during the day can create rivulets of melt water anywhere and everywhere. At night, the cold will freeze that water hard in different spots, and in different thicknesses, every day. Here are some tips from us to you so that no one has an avoidable slip and fall accident on your watch.
The D-I-Y ice warrior will own an ice chipper. If this tool is not familiar to you, It is essentially a tempered spring steel blade attached to a four foot long hardwood handle. It looks like a hoe that has been hammered flat for use in a vertical manner or to scrape at a forty-five degree angle.
Ice choppers typically come in two blade styles. The first is a lighter style, with a blade of about four inches of useable edge. The second is one called “industrial” and is larger and heavier, with a shouldered seven-inch or so blade. Like any other tool, there are trade offs. The lighter one is easier to use fast and repeatedly, but it takes nearly twice as many scraping repetitions to clear an area that the larger blade can handle with fewer. Of course the bigger one is more fatiguing to use, especially when hefting it vertically over and over, but its increased mass and breadth will make shorter work of thicker ice build-up.
Have Some Ice Melt On Hand, But Use It Sparingly
Ice melt products, sometimes just called “salts,” work by attracting moisture from the ice from a brine, creating a chemical reaction that produces heat, which melts ice and attracts moisture to the pellets, which then creates more brine heat, so on and so forth. Even if the ice is not thoroughly melted by the application of the chemical, it weakens it considerably, making it easier to remove from the sidewalk or pavement.
The product must reach the pavement to become effective. Once on the pavement the brine can spread out and break the bond the ice has with the pavement. As the ice is loosened, it can more easily be shoveled away.
Sodium chloride is the granddaddy of the salts. Commonly known as “rock salt,” it has the virtue of being really cheap, but it also loses its effectiveness as the mercury drops, as it is more of a drying agent rather than a brine-forming one.
The typical de-icing agent found at stores everywhere is calcium chloride, which works at almost any low temperature we encounter in Calgary. The problems with calcium chloride are fairly well known, but we will list them here: 1) It is highly corrosive to metal. Try not to use it repeatedly on your driveway, because it will wind up in the undercarriage of your vehicles. 2) It leaves behind a slimy, slightly sticky residue that is not unlike a slug or snail track writ large and can damage concrete by leaving moisture on the pores of the surface during the freeze/thaw cycle, and; 3) That residue, if it winds up on your plants, will damage them.
Magnesium chloride is becoming ever more popular, due it being both less corrosive and safer to plant life.
Potassium chloride is the priciest of the more common salts. To spare expense, it is often mixed in a 50/50 ratio with rock salt. Though safer to plant life than the other above agents, it will still injure plants if over-applied.
Don’t Forget Your Sand
Sand only provides traction, but it doesn’t make a slimy, corrosive, damaging mess like the salts do. A blanket of snow in Calgary can warm up every day, melt a little, and keep making new ice. Sand is your answer. Its main drawback comes in the spring, because it makes a mess. But you can always call Mirage Landscaping in Calgary for a free clean up quote. We are your four-season landscaping maintenance provider in Calgary.