Archive for November, 2011

Ice Melts vary wildly in performance, content, and cost

Published by JKeefe on November 17th, 2011 - in Ice Melt, Lawn Care Companies

Rock salt can spell disaster for trees & shrubs

Rock salt is the cheapest and most basic of ice melting materials but it has many drawbacks for the price.  Everyone knows the damage rock salt does to turf, tree & shrubs, concrete, brick, patios, steel and so many more materials.  Rock salt is the cheapest ice melt but generally functions in the upper teens to lower 20’s F.  Rock salt will do plenty of damage to concrete, patios, grass, trees, and shrubs when exposed to the briny solution as it soaks into the soil.  Once spring arrives the moist, salty soil actually creates a drought condition around root systems resulting from the use of rock salt.  Although rock salt is a cheap ice melting product, the replacement damage of beloved tree and shrubs far outweigh its regular use.  Surprisingly enough, many folks still buy rock salt by the ton due to its “perceived” value as it relates to the price per bag.  For a few dollars more, many other ice melting products are available with much less impact to the environment and landscaping materials such as brick, slate, and concrete.

Rock salt melts more than ice, it eats your vehicle and damages your landscape

Calcium chloride is a serious ice melting product that works at extreme low temperatures (-25 f), only found in New England on rare occasions.  Unfortunately, calcium chloride is a very harsh chemical that requires the use of protective equipment such as gloves to protect against burning exposed skin.  Calcium chloride is also very expensive, which brings into question why it would be used over other available products.  Storage is important because unless the bags are sealed and kept dry, calcium chloride “melts” into itself by absorbing moisture in the air- thereby coming unusable. Calcium chloride will corrode steel so makes it a poor choice for use on concrete sidewalks.  Most calcium chloride pellets are round and therefore roll on inclines unlike crystalline ice melters.  While other ice melts can provide physical traction after use, the round pellets of calcium chloride cannot provide any such benefit.  Calcium chloride is labeled on the bag as a severe irritant to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.

There are many environmentally friendly ice melting materials on the market.  Unfortunately, because ice melts are not regulated by the Federal government, an associated MSDS sheet can be most vague without exhaustive research.  After much research ourselves, we have decided to offer Natural Ice Melt as an alternative to the aforementioned products.  Performance must be balanced with cost and benefits depending upon the planned use such as on a driveway, near a valuable landscape or around pets.  So the next time you are staring at a pallet of ice melt at the Home Depot, maybe you will think twice before reaching for the lowest price bag because… are you really saving any money?

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Don’t let matted leaves and early snow get you down

Clean up your yard before winter snow stays

Most folks got at least a few inches of snow this past weekend during a record setting October snow storm.  The impact on your lawn can be summed up in a few basic scenarios with the first involving moderate to substantial leaf litter on the ground now snow covered.  Left uncollected, these piles of leaves can be trouble for your lawn as colder weather approaches with snow that will not melt until spring.  As soon as you can remove leaf piles and other debris brought down by the heavy, wet snow you should plan on doing so to prevent smothering areas of your lawn.  The thicker the leaf pile, the better it will mulch your grass leaving dead spots and bare areas next year.

If you have your driveway plowed, now is a great time to put up stakes marking the edge of the lawn indicating the transition from gravel or pavement to grass.  Snow plow damage becomes visible in the spring time as snow recedes, exposing chunks of sod and grass tossed aside to dry out and die.  Without help, snow plow operators can have difficulty determining where your driveway ends and the lawn begins.  Such an error is commonplace during late night snow storms and can result in significant lawn damage.  Using posts, stakes, or sticks can provide a simple, yet effective signal and minimize or prevent the edge of your lawn from being “relocated”.

Even though it is now November, if you got caught with your lawn still needing another cut- say over 3” in height- don’t feel odd pulling out your mower for one last farewell mowing.  Many folks can remove leaves and mow simultaneously so this is a great opportunity to “get two birds with one stone” as the saying goes.  A clean, short cut in November is one way you can say “I love you” to your lawn before the onset of winter.

Many tree limbs were damaged by the weight of the snow with leaves still turning colors, many still green!  Be sure to have those branches cleanly pruned to help reduce future insect and disease damage.  Of course, remove as many downed branches on your lawn as possible, leaving the lawn surface as clean as possible before winter truly arrives.  Completing these basic housekeeping items can give your landscape the edge it might need to survive an unpredictable winter.

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