Best Tactics for Snow and Ice Removal

As the daylight hours grow shorter, it’s only a matter of time before winter weather makes its first appearance of the season. We all have visions of a winter spent drinking hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire as a fresh blanket of snow creates a winter wonderland outside. Once the snow stops falling, though, it means it’s time to get out there and clear the sidewalks and driveway!

It’s important to be very careful when you approach a physical activity like snow removal that uses muscles and stamina you may not be ready for. Many people manage to injure their backs or even worse when they overexert while shoveling snow.

Your best bet to avoid injury and to really enjoy the winter weather is to let the professionals do the heavy lifting. Hidden Creek Landscaping offers snow removal services that save you the backache, lighten the burden of snow removal, and let you keep enjoying the hot chocolate in front of the fire!

Is there a best approach when it comes to snow removal?

The best tactic when it comes to snow removal is to approach it incrementally. This is the best way to avoid overly strenuous activity. If it’s a light, dryer snow, it’s a good idea to shovel your driveway and walks in different stages throughout the storm.

If you remove an inch or two of snow at a time, you avoid moving the added weight that comes with bigger quantities of snow. Even if you have to do it several times during the storm, you will save yourself the extra exertion of moving bigger volumes.

When you get down to the shoveling, make sure you save your back by remaining aware of the bend in your knees and keeping your back straight. Avoid twisting from side to side, and don’t try to pack your shovel too heavily with snow. When it comes to snow and ice removal, taking it slowly but methodically is your best bet.

Don’t forget to get in front of the warm fire regularly! Frequent breaks are the key to avoiding excessive exhaustion.

While it might feel good to get out in the cool air, if you are elderly it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to the neighborhood kids, or even better, to the pros at Hidden Creek Landscaping. Take it easy and enjoy the snowy landscape from the comfort of your home.

Above all else, stay tuned in with how you are feeling. It is very easy to cause yourself a serious injury by underestimating how physically taxing snow shoveling can be and the extreme strain that snow removal can cause to your system.

Shouldn’t I just use a snowblower?

Snowblowers are a great weapon in the arsenal when it comes to removing large quantities of snow in a short amount of time. Especially if the snow is very wet and heavy, they can be much better than shoveling.

Before the winter sets in for good, give your snowblower a thorough inspection to make sure that all of the parts are in good working condition and ready to tackle the snow.

When using a snowblower, always be sure to use caution to prevent serious injury. Always keep the shields in their proper place and keep your hands and feet away from the moving mechanisms. And be prepared for the exertion – using a snowblower can be more physical than you expect.

As you move down your driveway or sidewalks, watch out for stray objects. If debris gets churned into the snowblower, it could throw objects into the air, not to mention cause serious damage to the machine. The chute must be pointed away from people, vehicles, and buildings to ensure safe operation and avoid injury to people and damage to property.

Is rock salt effective in melting ice?

Rock salt is most effective after you’ve removed the top layers of snow, directly onto paved or concrete surfaces. Once you’ve gone through the effort of removing the snow, throwing down some rock salt will help make sure that driveways and sidewalks don’t become dangerously slippery.

When applying salt, take care that you don’t overshoot the paved surfaces! Rock salt can be deadly to the beautiful plants that you spent all summer cultivating.

How can I get help with snow removal?

Of course! When it comes to strenuous activity like snow removal it’s best to call in the pros. By engaging a snow removal service like those provided by Hidden Creek Landscaping, you’ll save yourself the physical strain, make your life easier, and let you enjoy the snow instead of sweating through it!

Give us a call to learn more about our snow removal services and how they can help you avoid the backache and enjoy the season. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes.

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Caring For Your Landscape In Winter

Winter landscaping can seem a tad challenging. In fact, you probably haven’t given much thought to your landscaping in the winter months. Taking care of your yard now can set you up for success in the future. Here are some of our top tips for caring for your yard and garden this winter:

Break out the Fertilizer

Fertilizing your lawn before the weather gets too cold is a great way to set it up for success during the springtime. Summer can deplete a lot of the nutrients from your grass, so fertilizing can reverse this damage and help replenish the roots of your plants. Your lawn will be in full bloom when the weather gets warm again if you decide to fertilize.  

Aerate Your Yard

Aerating your lawn is the process of breaking up soil and dirt to allow oxygen and water to get into it. Aerating your lawn will keep it healthy and thriving. It helps the roots of your plants to grow deep into the lawn, which leads to healthier grass and foliage. The soil in your yard will naturally get compact over time, making it hard for air and water to seep down into the roots of your plants. Aeration will help break this up and reverse it. This will make sure that your plants are well nourished, even during winter.

Clear it Out

Although this tip may seem like common sense, it is important to keep your yard free in the winter time. If you leave things like furniture and toys on your grass during the cold season, it can lead to dead patches when the weather gets warm again. Make sure that your yard is cleaned up and cleared out, especially before the snowy weather begins.

Do Some Last Minute Raking

If you still have leaves in your yard from the fall, break out the rake and get them cleaned up before the first snowfall. Not only will this help you clear out your yard, as mentioned above, but it will also help open up your root system. This is a good way to prepare your yard for seeding and to help with the aeration efforts of your soil.

Don’t Step on the Grass!

Although you are probably used to strolling through your yard at your leisure, stepping on the grass during the winter can be incredibly damaging. When people tread through the snow, they tend to take the same path each time. As you walk through your yard, the snow will become continuously compacted. While one walk through the yard won’t do too much damage, continuing to tread the same paths can make it hard for grass in that area to grow.

Make Sure Your Lawn is Mowed

Speaking of grass, it is incredibly important to keep up with your mowing schedule all the way up until the first snowfall of the winter. Leaving tall grass for winter weather can have devastating effects on your yard. Longer grass will trap in moisture and will stay wet throughout the season.

Evaluate Your Hardscape

While your yard will not be as visually pleasing in the winter time because of the lack of foliage, you can still up your curb appeal by adding and updating hardscaping features to your space. Benches, gazebos, walkways, and other features will still be visible in the winter months and can give your landscape a welcoming vibe. Winter is the perfect time to take on these projects because you will be putting less maintenance into your grass and garden. 

Taking good care of your lawn in winter is half the battle to keeping a successful landscape all year long. Practice these maintenance tips, and contact the experts at Hidden Creek Landscaping for all of your winter landscaping needs. Together, we will make sure that your yard is beautiful and healthy for the new year.

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Winterizing Your Sprinkler System

With the harsh winter weather coming up fast, it is important to take some time to prepare your home for the elements. One preparation that is often overlooked by homeowners is preparing your sprinkler system for the cold weather. Doing so can help avoid damaged valves, seals, and pipes when warmer weather returns. Without proper winterizing, you may be faced with steep costs to repair any damages.

Where to Begin

The most important thing to remember when winterizing your sprinkler system is that any water remaining in it must be blown out. Harsh winter temperatures can cause any water left behind to freeze and expand, resulting in damage to the metal and plastic components of the sprinkler system.

You will need an air compressor to prepare your system. You can rent an air compressor from an equipment rental company, hire a plumber who is qualified to perform this service or contact the company that initially installed the system and have them do it.

What You’ll Need

If you have an air compressor, you should have the following items to winterize your sprinkler system:

  • Safety glasses for eye protection
  • Your sprinkler system user manual in case you have any questions
  • Metal fitting for the airline on the compressor
  • Insulated blanket (if applicable)
  • Stop and waste valve key (if applicable)

The Process

The first step in preparing your sprinkler system for winter is turning off the water supply to the system. Your shut-off valve will be in a valve box, which is typically found in your basement, garage, or another space that will protect it from freezing. Your shut-off valve could also be located up to five feet underground, and you will need a key to turn it off. It should not require much effort to turn your shut-off valve off; however, you do not want to force it and risk damage to the valve. Sprinkler systems that utilize a pump for the operation must be drained and disconnected. If possible, store your sprinkler system pump inside for the winter months. For pumps that are permanently in place, this is where you will need the insulated blanket to protect it from the elements.

The next step in the winterizing process is clearing out any water in the backflow device. If your sprinkler system operates on privately owned water, you will want to check the installation plan. Most sprinkler systems typically utilize public water sources and either have a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB) or an atmospheric vacuum breaker (AVB). You will find the AVB located below the valve, and it can be cleared out with the system. In contrast, you cannot use an air compressor to clear out a system with a PVB. For ones with PVBs, you will need to clear out the system first then rotate the test cocks and ball valves a few times. You will then want to position them half-open in order to avoid moisture from building up.

The third step in winterizing your sprinkler system is to actually clear the water out of the system. You will want to clear out all the water in the valves and downstream part of the system. While using the air compressor, it is recommended that you reach a range of 40-80 pounds/square inch. The following are recommendations based on the type of material of your sprinkler system:

  •       50 pounds/square inch maximum for polyethylene pipe
  •       80 pounds/square inch maximum for rigid PVC tubing

In order to find the best volume for your sprinkler system, simply take the gallons per minute and divide by 7.5, which will give you the cubic feet per minute of compressed air needed.

Things to Remember

It is important to note that the size of your air compressor must be considered during this step. Large air compressors should be operated with a regulator to avoid clearing out the water too quickly and causing damage to the sprinkler system. Smaller air compressors can certainly be used for this step; it will just take longer to complete the process.

You will then need to hook up the air compressor to the blowout valve. Turn the compressor to the appropriate psi and begin running it. We recommend that you run the compressor two times for each zone of the sprinkler system.

The final step in the winterization process is to set all the valves on the backflow device to half-open. You will also want to keep the compressor controller plugged in since it is a source of heat to prevent condensation.

You have now successfully prepared your sprinkler system for the winter. Once the spring arrives, you will need to prepare your system for use again. You will need to ensure all valves are closed before re-pressurizing the system. Once the water flow is operational, you can then reopen the valves.

If you have any questions about this, or anything else related to landscaping, give us a call today!


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