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How to properly de-ice your brick pavers

Every year we battle to keep out paver sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and ice. Winter can be the most destructive time of the season for your pavers. It’s not because of the freeze and thaw cycles, but because of how we remove snow and ice. Every time it snows we bang metal plows or snow blower blades against them. We throw hundreds of pounds of chemical deicers on top of them. Your pavers are strong enough to withstand this type of treatment, but only for so long. Improper winter maintenance can cause your pavers to deteriorate at a rapid rate.

Your pavers can be plowed and shoveled like normal asphalt or concrete pavement but in order to maintain the best surface integrity it has to be done right. If you have your driveway plowed to make sure they use composite or rubber blades or if you use a snow blower raise the blade height. Do not use sharp objects to chop ice away, repeated blows can cause the pavers to crack.

When it comes to chemical deicers there are three main types: sodium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. So which one is best for pavers? All three types of deicers work great at melting ice on pavement at extremely low tempertatures but they can wreak havoc on your paver’s surface. Deicers work by lowering the temperature at which water freezes. Because pavers are porous, water can seep into the brick and remain suspended until it refreezes. The water in the brick can expand up to 9% causing the paver to spall or have bits of the surface to break off. If you are using these products it is highly recommended by the manufacturer to remove any excess off of the pavement. These are extremely corrosive products and excessive use of these products has the potential to destroy pavers or any concrete products over time.

As recommended by our Garden Center Manager and Horticulturalist, Sean Ducey,there is one product that is not mentioned, which is Calcium Magnesium Acetate or CMA. This product is found to have low corrosive properties and is a good environmentally conscious alternative to other deicers by the U.S. Federal Department of Transportation. Today, CMA is used worldwide to answer environmental concerns and solve problems associated with corrosion and concrete spalling. CMA is the product that we recommend to our customers for their deicing needs.” As with all deicers, follow the manufacturers recommendation for application. This will reduce waste and keep your paver looking and performing at their best.

In addition to the proper use of deicers we recommend that you have your pavers sealed. Sealing your pavers helps resist fading, staining and also makes them more impervious to water. A sealed paver allows less water to enter into it thus lowering the risk of the water freezing and damaging the pager during the winter. Also if you happen to spill anything on it, it will allow you time to clean up before a stain sets in.

Your pavers are a large investment, good winter maintenance is essential in keeping your paver from performing and looking their best.

Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today to schedule a Spring 2022 cleanup. (Updated: 1/7/22)

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