Written By: Samantha Justice, P.E.
What You Need to Know About Removing Snow from Porous Pavements
Vehicle and pedestrian use on porous pavements don’t stop because it’s winter. Roads need to be plowed, parking lots need to be cleared, and walking paths need to be snow and ice-free for safe use. This is true for all surface types: concrete, asphalt, and porous pavements—however, it is a common misconception that snow removal is more challenging with porous pavement systems.
Myth Busted: Snow removal on a Porous Pavement System (PPS) is easy!
Get the answers below to the frequently asked questions about removing snow from plastic, modular type porous pavers.
Can I Apply Salt to Porous Pavements?
Applying salt or ice melt chemicals to gravel-filled PPS surfaces encourages snow and ice to melt, the same as it would on a concrete road.
Most porous paver units are made with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), a strong plastic that has a high resistance to environmental factors and is chemically inert. Cold temperatures and freezing and melting snow or ice will not cause damage or deformation to the paver material. Most importantly, HDPE is chemically stable, so it will not react to applied deicers, including road salt.
The added benefit to using a PPS is that the melting snow will infiltrate through the infill material and into the sub-base, minimizing the amount of surface water that could refreeze over time. With the ice at the surface removed or reduced, the insulating effect is gone, reducing the need for deicing salts by up to 70%. And you don’t need to worry about freeze-thaw issues in the base of the PPS either, because of how the open-graded aggregate’s high void space gives the water room to expand as it forms to ice. See More on Freeze-Thaw >>
Of course, deicers should only be used on aggregate infilled PPS as they would do damage to vegetated paver systems.
Can I Apply Sand to Porous Pavements?
Using sand, saw dust, kitty litter, or other abrasive materials on the surface of fallen snow can create traction to prevent slips, but doesn’t promote melting. More importantly, sand is only effective when it is on top–if it is buried or when the snow melts, the sand is ineffective.
Sand should not be used on PPS because it will eventually seep into the open-graded aggregate base underneath the paver units, causing it to clog. A clogged system will not work properly, leading to excessive maintenance requirements in the spring. Avoiding sand and other fine-grained materials will help keep the PPS in ready-mode for the next snowfall.
Can I Use a Snowplow on Porous Pavers?
When heavy snowfalls occur, you cannot rely on deicing alone. For residential or small porous pavement areas, using a hand shovel is perfect for clearing away the snow; but for larger areas, snowplows are the way to go. When plowing over any gravel areas—especially gravel-filled porous pavers–snow blade shoes are recommended. The snow blade shoes will protect the paver units, while avoiding excess wear or movement of the gravel material. When using the blade shoes, snowplows have no special requirements. Simply run the plow according to standard use.
If a blade shoe is not available, the plow’s blade should remain 1 to 2 inches above the paver system to avoid damaging the units or catching on the system. Typically, there isn’t a need for deicers as the warmth of the ground permeates through the open-graded base course and melts the thin layer of unplowed snow—but if desired, deicers can be applied to melt the remaining snow.
How Do I Remove Snow from Grass Pavers?
If the porous pavement system has topsoil infill and sprouts vegetation, then snow removal is typically not required. The grassed area should look and act like a regular lawn, so snow can accumulate and melt naturally. When the snow melts in the spring, maintain the vegetated porous pavement area in accordance with regular landscaping plans.
In the case where snow removal is required—such as an emergency lane—simply leave the blade up 2 inches and allow the remaining snow to melt off naturally. It may be necessary to have visibility poles marking the boundaries of the porous pavement area.
Making Winter Surfaces Safer
As you can see, snow removal on porous pavement systems is easy. Roads, parking lots and walking trails will not only be safer, but with a porous pavement system, drainage and runoff during the spring melt will not be an issue either.
Presto Geosystems offers the GEOBLOCK® grass and GEOPAVE® gravel porous pavement systems to help control stormwater, meet load requirements and suit landscape plans.
Watch this video to learn more about our PPS and start building green today.
For more information on porous pavements, visit our web page: Porous Pavements.