Neighborhood Spotlight: Bob Winkler

Winter Maintenance:

How do you describe your current winter maintenance habits?

Over the last 10 years, I’ve developed a preference for round pebbles instead of salt or sand. They’re obviously chloride-free, and unlike sand or small square grit pebbles they don’t stick in or onto your boots. Round pebbles are also heavier and tend to stay put where they’re placed. The sharper granite gravel does seem grippier, but tends to stick to shoes because its smaller and lighter.

Grit is a good fit for our home because it doesn’t melt, get diluted, and then refreeze. I can add as much as I want, then it’s easy to sweep up and a little bit won’t hurt the grass at all. It’s worked great to sweep it up and reuse it next year!

I feel that we’ve limited the risk of falls with relatives, 10 years of the habit and we’ve got no accidents, and eliminated de-icer chemicals.

We have a flagstone patio out front by the driveway, so we intentionally leave a layer of snow when shoveling to protect the stone. Sometimes we spot treat packed snow with heavier round grit as needed. Everyone in the family’s happy with the results, including the dog!

What’s your motivation?

Fewer chemicals applied any time of year means less in runoff into the stormdrain. We just like helping our area where we can. It’s a great cost motivation, too.

What are the costs associated with your practice?

I spend just about 2-3 bucks/bag. Granite was a little pricier, but is used sparingly. As I keep reusing some, it works out to be just a few bags/year. One would have to factor in how heavy and how often you apply it.

Weekly maintenance needs:

Put down as needed when slippery. 

Challenges or downsides that you work with:

Some pebbles can still get inside depending on the shoe treads. Some vacuums won’t take it, and some will, so that’s been a side detail to consider. It may not work for everyone depending on your needs, try mixing and matching the pebble sizes to see what works for you.

What tips would you give to someone trying to find their own balance in winter maintenance?

We give up on our back patio and just let it be in the winter. We also don’t mind skipping the whole driveway, I really just need a reliable path to the mailbox that’s the most trafficked space for where we park and walk most often.

I would say to shop around, see what’s out there, and try different things. If people still need salt, grit and round grit will reduce some need for it. If you’re using some salt and it refreezes after a thaw, grit will have some traction and stop the cycle of just adding more salt.

Any other things to convey?

You might have to find round grit or pea gravel it in the lawn and garden center for landscaping. It might not be sold with the name “grit”, but without that title and when its not spring where lots of landscaping is happening, I’ve noticed it’s cheaper!

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Adopt-a-Drain:

Why did you adopt-a-drain in your neighborhood?

Goose Lake is struggling with water quality. It’s an opportunity for a neighbor to help.

How much time do you usually spend on drain care each month?

Twice per month is my goal. Its 10-15 minutes of cleaning each time, including a bout a half a block walk to the drain.

How has it changed your interaction with the neighborhood?

I’ve become much more aware of how my own driveway, sidewalk, lawn and garden care can impact the Goose Lake runoff/water quality problem. I’m keeping my curb clean and limiting the amount/use of products.

What tips do you have for new adopters?

I’ve found that a broom, long handled dust pan, and a pair of gloves works well for tools. A five gallon green Menards bucket works great to fill up and then use to estimate your collection amount. That estimation goes onto the adopt-a-drain website for them to track the results across the Metro

Just adopt a drain online and then the resources and tips are available as you go. Then, encourage others to do the same!

Visit adopt-a-drain.org

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