This time of year can be very overwhelming when it comes to house maintenance. Blowing snow and frigid temperatures can keep us inside and away from our yard duties. It's very hard to think of keeping up our yards when it's below zero outside, but if not maintained right away, slippery steps and sidewalks can lead to dangerous falls and painful injuries, not to mention insurance claims from clumsy neighbors. Here are some tips and hints to help you get through to spring.
Time Is of the Essence
It's best to start a snow and ice project immediately after it snows to prevent snow pack down. Avoid driving and walking on the driveway or area to be shoveled. If possible, have a shovel or broom handy next to your main door so that you can remove as much snow as possible before heading outside. Try to work from the door outward.
Shovel or snow blow your sidewalk and driveway as close to the surface as possible. Also try to keep the snow from piling up close to the house because this could result in a leaky basement in the spring. Wet snows will lead to heavy snow removal, so take caution when shoveling at these times.
Brooms are useful next to the front or main door as you can brush off the snow before venturing outside. It is also helpful to use the bristles to clear snow out of crevices that may lead to ice build-up.
For the yard, start from the highest point and work your way down. You will avoid shoveling snow twice as much. For example, start at the top step and shovel/sweep your snow down to the next step, shovel that one down, so on and so forth. You'll also find that starting in the garage and pushing the snow out of the door area will keep you from tracking in too much snow. Try to push and shovel the snow to the side of the driveway or sidewalk away from the house to keep it from building up.
There are many different kinds of shovels to choose from at your local hardware store. Some are suitable for pushing snow, others help clear away snow in large sections, and some even have bends in the shafts to help prevent back injuries.
Snow blowers and snow throwers work best for moderate to heavy snowfall and dense, wet snow. If you can afford it and you live in a snowy climate, invest in a snow blower. Your back will thank you for it!
Ice Choppers or Chisels
Just as in types of shovels, there are a few different kinds of ice picks to choose from. You'll find that ice will build up around high traffic and drainage areas such as stairs, garage doors, and downspouts, and will also pool in the lower elevations of your yard. Before laying down any salt you'll need to get as much ice removed as possible. Take your chisel or pick to these areas, hacking at it with a downward motion, and brush or shovel away the ice chunks as you work. It also helps to get the flat side of the chopper under a shelf of ice and push it up. It will take some elbow grease, but this method usually works the best and the fastest. Some of these tools will have sharp blades so take caution when using these around children and animals.
For the stubborn ice that just won't come up with an ice pick or for those thin sheets of ice, you'll need to use sidewalk salt. There are a few options to pick from. If you have pets you'll find it's best to get a pet-safe salt that will be easy on their feet and non-toxic. If you do not have to worry about four-legged friends, you can use your run-of-the-mill sidewalk salt. On the areas of ice that are thicker, you'll want to liberally shake out the salt over those areas, decreasing the amount of salt used for the thinner sheets of ice. Remember to focus on the high traffic areas such as the stairs and sidewalks.