While ice and snow may make for mesmerizing classic Christmas scenes on holiday greeting cards, neither are welcome friends of your home’s interior or exterior. It’s best to enjoy the snow and ice and then send them packing as quickly as possible! Here’s how to keep the outside of your house looking good in the Winter.
Eventually, snow melts and when it does that water can refreeze cause some serious problems so first things first. Use a roof rake to thoughtfully remove snow from your roof. It won’t do you much good if you move it from your roof to your sidewalk or crush your shrubberies underneath its weight.
Clear your walkways and driveways of snow before it gets too deep. It’s better to shovel often than it is to wait for the snow to stop four days later. Make sure you shovel down to the concrete to keep ice from forming or building up. Homemade de-icers are great for keeping the snow from sticking. If you don’t mind the snow for a while sprinkle birdseed or sand to help you get traction. If possible, avoid salt. It damages concrete, rusts metal, hurts the environment, is destructive toxic to most landscape and can hurt our pets.
Ice directly outside of entrances, on steps and sidewalks, can be treacherous. Salt, aside from the damage it causes, can cause the snow to melt and a hard freeze, later on, can turn your walkways into ice rinks. Gravel, kitty litter, bird seed and sand are all smart ways to add traction. If you melt the ice sprinkle some kind of grit on top so that when it refreezes it will come with built-in traction. Do this every time there’s a thaw and refreeze. The internet is full homemade de-icer recipes using rubbing alcohol, dishwashing soap, pickle juice and a favorite made from beet sugar juice. They’re inexpensive and simple to make. In addition to damaging commercial de-icers, your local garden center or hardware store may have natural de-icers that are much safer for the environment and pets. Remember, de-icers are most effective when you use them before falling snow starts to accumulate. Spraying a de-icer on top of snow or existing ice doesn’t work nearly as well.
Icicles are so beautiful that even Christmas lights are designed to mimic their look but they can be purveyors of big problems and expensive repairs. Get rid of them! Use a long broom handle or extension pole to knock them down. Be careful not to stand under them. And knock them down gently in case your home’s gutters are full of ice or you might find the gutters coming down too.
Do You Have an Ice Dam?
Icicles may be hiding an ice dam. Since ice dams are likely to develop at the edge of your roof pay close attention to the icicles around your home. An ice dam has probably not formed if there is no water trapped behind them. Water stains found on the interior side of exterior walls or along the ceiling can indicate the formation of an ice dam. To prevent damage have a professional remove the ice dam immediately.
When it comes to the roof, it’s good to call a PROFESSIONAL! Don’t be the untrained homeowner trying to explain to the E.R. Doctor how you fell off the roof.
Some Quick Winter Hacks for a little bit of Everything
Keep Straws On-Hand
If your car lock is iced-up put the straw right next to the lock and blow. Your warm breath will melt the ice.
Heated Snow Pads
They might be a little expensive but priceless when you think about no more shoveling and hacking at the ice. They come in a variety of sizes for pathways, driveways, and stairs.
Hot Water on Concrete Pavement
If you use boiled water to melt ice on your driveway or walkway be sure to sweep it completely away to prevent any residual water from freezing and creating a hazard.
Saltwater for your Windshield
If you don’t have a scraper or de-icer, road salt combined with a little water will remove a thin layer of ice from your windshield. A 2-1 ratio of rubbing alcohol and water will do the same. Finish by spraying with water and use your wiper blades to remove the slush. Don’t use the road salt if you don’t have to. Salt is no friend of cars!
Prepare Your Car to be Outside
Like many, one car fits into the garage and the other one doesn’t. Before you leave your car outside, spray some Teflon into the locks and the doors’ weatherstripping. Also, have your homemade de-icer ready to make quick work for clearing the windshields when you need to leave.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Garage
Your garage door’s sweep can freeze to your driveway and keep you from opening the overhead door. Sprinkle or spray de-icer across the garage door entrance before a coming storm.
Now that you’ve cleaned up the outside and made it a lot safer your family, you can turn your attention to your landscape and bring out the very best of winter. It’s not too late to add a bench or a garden sculpture to enhance your garden space and maybe even draw some attention to the beauty of stately evergreens or the haunting silhouette of your deciduous trees.
Shop local thrift stores for window boxes or hanging baskets to fill with miniature, winter-hardy Spruces or broad-leafed Evergreens surrounded by holly and rhododendron. Suspend them from your porch or windows to brighten even the most overcast days.
It might already seem like a whole season’s worth of ice and snow has come upon us but, the fact is, it’s still early and there’s plenty more where that came from. By keeping the home free from snow and ice as much as possible you can enjoy the winter as much as the summer.