Decorative walks need tender care

Salting walks can cause unintended damage without proper prep

Kelly Heidbreder
Kelly Heidbreder

We’ve had the snowiest winter on record and we are all tired of scraping and salting the sidewalk and driveway. Chipping away at the ice with bags of salt can cause damage to your concrete work unless it was properly protected.

Concrete professionals say with a good seal, your decorative sidewalk will wear like nails. Once it is sealed, it will be able to withstand anything you toss on it.


Off the sidewalk

When we get a sunny weekend, it is time to attack the crust of ice and snow that is hard-packed into your sidewalk or driveway. Use a plastic shovel rather than a metal one to prevent gouging your concrete.

The sealer that has been applied to your concrete during much warmer weather will be your best defense right now. It is like a protective helmet. You might need to reapply the concrete sealer every other year with a two-step solvent based sealer. It will be well worth the effort. Concrete professionals recommend CSS Elite Crete Solvent.


Lawn-friendly de-icers

We have been tossing a lot of things on the flat surfaces around our homes to get from the front door to the car. To protect your lawn you also might want to think about tossing on something that is less corrosive.

Ohio State University recommends potassium. It is a good chemical to sprinkle on your sidewalk. Gardeners also call it potash. It helps your flowers and fruit grow strong and it will help you keep your sidewalk safe down to 20 degrees. But this is one of those chemicals that is good for your grass, but might damage your concrete over time.

Urea is a fertilizer that any farmer or hard-core gardener knows it well. Pellets made from this fertilizer will melt ice quickly down to 20 degrees. The agricultural grade is corrosive and struggles to work when the temperature drops below 20 degrees.

Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride will melt ice faster than regular salt down to about 15 degrees, but OSU says it also may make surfaces slippery if it is below zero. It only melts ice down to 15 degrees. It works better to toss on a dry sidewalk and prevent ice from collecting, rather than melting the ice.

Ammonium sulfate is a fertilizer that will melt ice down to 20 degrees. Potassium chloride will do the same thing but both chemicals might put pits in your concrete if you use too much or it sits on there too long.


First day of spring

Hang on friends, the first day of spring is March 20. Brace yourself for a wet spring with lots of flooding. We might be able to get into the garden by June.

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