As cooler temperatures move into our region, you will want to prepare your property to manage stormwater throughout the winter months. Follow these steps, suggested by Zach Popkin, PHS Program Manager. “We always say low maintenance, not no maintenance, when it comes to stormwater management tools during winter months,” says Popkin.
“Although downspout planters and rain gardens won’t provide the same aesthetic beauty as they do during the growing season -- and it’s difficult to enjoy permeable pavers when they’re under a foot of snow -- some basic maintenance practices can help ensure your stormwater management system will remain beautiful and functional for years to come.”
Before temperatures consistently drop below 32°F, disconnect the barrel from the downspout. First, drain the barrel by opening the spigot at the bottom. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the two screws connecting the downspout diverter to the downspout. Pull out the diverter and replace with the rubber winter cap that was provided during the installation. Screw in the cap using the same screws you removed from the downspout diverter. If you can’t find the winter cap, replacement caps can be purchased online. Store the accordion tube and downspout diverter in a safe place until spring.
Remove any remaining autumn leaves or other debris from your gutters and downspouts to keep them clear. Snow and ice are OK in the rain garden but be wary of any ice extending up the downspout. If the downspout freezes, this may indicate a clog. Make sure water can flow freely out of the downspout and into the rain garden.
Permeable pavers will do their job all winter with the right care. Remove debris from the pavers by sweeping them regularly. After snowstorms, remove snow with a hand shovel or snow blower with a rubber edge. Use salt sparingly -- it can damage pavers -- and concentrate de-icing products in the areas of highest use. Remember that salt is not effective when more than 3 inches of snow has accumulated or temperatures are below 25 degrees. Sand, cat litter, and other non-soluble de-icing products should never be used on permeable pavers -- they will clog the system over time and prevent proper water infiltration.