Winter is Coming! Time to Think Snow Removal

Today is the last day of summer. Don’t shoot the messenger, but like it or not Snow Removal season is fast approaching.

snow removal

Prevention plays a key role in making snow removal greener and less expensive

This week’s blog is the first in a series of useful articles, ‘best of’ tips, and product recommendation articles designed to help you get ready for what The Old Farmer says should be a cold and snowy 2016-2017 winter in Chicago. Who knows, if you’re prepared enough maybe you’ll enjoy the Polar Vortex this year? Or at least have time to shop for good prices on vacation homes in South America…

evanston snow removal

The Old Farmer says be ready for a cold and snowy 2016-2017 winter

This Week: Making Winter “Green”

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

–Benjamin Franklin

Snow removal is a dirty business. Companies generally run it as an emergency response service with the focus on clearing snow after it has accumulated.

This reactive approach to snow removal leads to dumping lots of rock salt and other environmentally damaging materials on top of snow and ice build-up to get rid of it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we apply more than 20 million tons of sodium chloride on our roadways every winter. That’s hugely toxic to the environment.

road salt snow removal

Commercial and municipal snow removal services dump huge amounts of rock salt to clear fallen snow each winter. This approach is hugely toxic to the environment.

In Chicago, winter snow and ice are inevitable, but we can approach snow removal safely and in a much more environmentally friendly way by taking a proactive approach.


Here are four ways to turn a white winter ‘greener’. Prevention plays a key role in redefining the snow removal process:

  1. Pre-treat surfaces when ice and snow are in the forecast. Keep an eye on the weather. Apply ice melt before a storm hits, so that the snow can’t adhere to the ground. Don’t wait until after the snow has fallen. Pretreating cuts down on the amount of ice melt needed – and wasted. Think snow prevention instead of snow removal.
chicago snow removal

Chicago and snow go together like polar and vortex. Be prepared will and you can learn to love winter. Or at least not dread it!

  1. Use environmentally friendly ice melt instead of rock salt. Cities use rock salt because it’s cheap. But rock salt’s public safety benefits come with ecological drawbacks. Salt is bad for your pets, will kill your grass and plants, is corrosive to cars, and will pollute nearby streams and rivers. A recent scientific study found that 70 percent of the salt applied to roads stays within the region’s watershed. Once it gets there, the contamination is difficult and expensive to remove. 
  2. Don’t let the snow build up. Shovel before the snow reaches more than 3″. It’s easier to shovel 3″ of snow three times a day than it is to shovel 9″ of snow all at once. Let Mother Nature help with the grunt work by doing snow removal early in the day. The radiant heat of the sun warms the surface to keep it safe and dry.
Chicago winter

Winter in Chicago can be beautiful. We’ll provide tips to make help you enjoy it rather than dread it.

  1. Replace asphalt driveways and concrete walkways with permeable surfaces. Permeable pavements allow water to drain through surfaces where it would normally pool. Because there’s no standing water on permeable surfaces, ice doesn’t form in freezing weather. This virtually eliminating the need to apply for deicer. And because permeable pavement is porous it does not become an impermeable ice block. This means it’s not subject to damage caused by the freeze/thaw cycle. Freeze/thaw damage creates costly repairs every year in asphalt and concrete surfaces.


For more iGreenwise snow removalnformation on Greenwise’s approach to eco-friendly snow clearing, please read this article in Lawn & Landscape magazine: A Green and White Mixture.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to Winter is Coming! Time to Think Snow Removal

  1. Jay Jorgenson November 17, 2016 at 9:10 am #

    This morning, believe it or not, I experience exactly what Benjamen Franklin was advising us to do. I was unprepared this morning for the snow to hit, and I found myself scrambling to get to work on time. It shouldn’t be a last minute emergency response. It should be something you plan for!

    • Michael Kormanik November 18, 2016 at 9:19 am #

      We couldn’t agree more, Jay. Especially here in Chicago. It may be unseasonably warm much later than normal this year, but we all know the snow is inevitable. And when it hits, it hits HARD! 🙂

  2. Katy V April 15, 2018 at 9:59 am #

    I can apply this on the next winter this year. Need to prepare cause I got a lot of bad experience during the last winter season.

  3. Ice February 6, 2019 at 12:43 am #

    I am typically to blogging and i actually appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information.

    • Robyn Hurtig February 15, 2019 at 12:24 pm #

      I’m glad you found the information helpful! Thanks for continuing to check in with us!

  4. Sandra Patterson April 23, 2019 at 6:10 pm #

    You make a great point about paying attention to the forecast and applying snowmelt before a storm hits, to avoid having to deal with snow buildup. My husband and I just moved to an area that we have been told is notorious for its heavy snowfall. I think we might try this method, but calling in a professional will probably be our first choice if we need it.

  5. Dennis Sanchez July 9, 2019 at 4:47 pm #

    Thank you for the tips on snow removal! It’s great that you elaborated on rock salt causing harm to pets and plants. I would say that cities should investigate alternate methods for snow removal that isn’t so harmful to the environment. During the winter I’ll be sure to use environmentally safe ice melt to clear the ice off of the ramp to my house.

    • Robyn Hurtig July 10, 2019 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dennis, and I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s almost nice to think of winter on such a hot day!

  6. Skylar Williams December 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm #

    Thank you for your tip to shovel the snow away before it hits three inches as well as to use eco-friendly ice melt instead of rock salt. My brother usually pulls out his snowplow this time of the year, but last year it broke towards the end of the season. We’ll have to find a place to buy parts for it before the snow really starts building up.

  7. Billy K December 16, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

    Excellent Article, Dennis! I like how you inform the reader of how to be proactive in preparing themselves for a heavy winter. The more steps taken in advance, the more safe your property is, and less work to be done later on. I know all about this process first-hand. Even though your article is a few years old, the content is still relevant and helpful today.

Leave a Reply

Call Now Button