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Sidewalk Shoveling MN | Driveway Snow Removal

Cold weather has arrived and along with it the snow and ice that Minnesotans are forced to deal with. For years we’ve been using rock salt (sodium chloride) on our sidewalks, driveways, and roads, and we’ve been tolerating the damage these chemicals cause to our landscapes and lawns. Now though, better, more environmentally friendly products have become available.

Help Keep Winter Salt and Sand Out of Local Waterways

Road salt poses one of the larger threats to water quality during the winter. Salt splashed from the road kills nearby vegetation and can leave a border of dead and dying trees and shrubs.  Excess sodium from the most commonly used road salt, sodium chloride, destroys soil structure, which reduces its ability to retain water and increases the amount of erosion.

Both sodium and chloride can also leach into subsurface groundwater supplies, impacting the water we drink. Many cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul included, have begun to experiment with other, less harmful chemicals to keep winter roads ice-free. They are also beginning to apply road salt more methodically, pre-treating major roads before a storm hits and applying only enough salt to keep ice from building up.

Tips for Homeowners

At your home, you can prevent pollution to local lakes and rivers by limiting the amount of salt and deicers you use on your driveways and sidewalks. One teaspoon of salt can contaminate five gallons of water!

As a rule of thumb, if there is a layer of salt remaining on your driveway after the ice melts, you used too much salt. If you do have excess sand or salt, sweep it up and throw it away so that it is not washed into the storm sewer or a nearby lake.

The earlier you shovel after a snowfall, the less likely you are to need salt.

Consider using an anti-icing agent before it snows. It will prevent the snow from bonding with the pavement and speed the melting process.

Fertilizers, leaves, and grass clippings from lawns contribute to phosphorus problems in our lakes and rivers. Homeowners can protect water quality by using lawn fertilizers that do not contain phosphorus—it’s the law in Minnesota. Look for a middle number of zero—and sweeping up grass clippings from streets and sidewalks after mowing and trimming. Minnesota soils are naturally high in phosphorus, so our lawns usually don’t need any extra, but to determine if your lawn is nutrient poor and requires fertilizer.

If your lawn is deficient in some nutrient, remember it is best to fertilize just prior to periods of active growth – this means fall for cool-season northern grasses.

Discuss your fertilizing needs with an experienced Minnesota Lawn Care Service. They will examine your lawn and gardens, assess the health of your plants, measure thatch depth, note any weeds, insects or diseases that might be present, and do a soil analysis.  Based on their findings, they will create a fertilization program to provide the nutrients necessary for your lawn and garden.

More Fertilizer Is NOT Better!

Whatever is not taken up by the plant runs off in the next rain event. Follow package instructions for applying fertilizer. Keep fertilizer off paved surfaces: It’s illegal to spread any fertilizer on hard surfaces such as streets, sidewalks, and driveways. Rain can wash the fertilizer into storm drains eventually leading to a lake or river near you. If you accidentally spill or spread fertilizer on a hard surface, clean it up immediately.

Slow-release fertilizers excellent alternatives to soluble fertilizers (those that break down when they come in contact with water). Slow-release fertilizers are categorized into groups based on how nutrients are released (pellets, chemically altered, or coated). Rather than releasing a quick rush of nutrients, soluble crystal, or granular fertilizers do, these release their nutrients slowly over a longer period and are less likely to create a flush of nutrient-laden runoff pollution.