Winter’s colder climate, snow buildup, and ice accumulations can wreak havoc on your commercial property in which you’ve invested time and money. Winter’s wind and freezing temperatures can lead to building damage, utility interruptions, and even temporary business closures or delays.

No facility manager wants to deal with those worries and issues.

Your Greater Chicago commercial property needs special maintenance, particularly in winter.

If you want to prevent property damage from this winter’s plowing and ice removal, don't forget to invite your snow removal company to help. There are some things you can do before the snow starts piling up to ensure your property is safe.

Let’s discuss winter landscape damage and how you can prevent it from happening during normal snow and ice removal on your commercial site.

6 Tips to Prevent Snow Plow Damage to Your Commercial Property

If you don’t prepare for heavy snow and ice, you can risk damage to landscapes, utilities and structures that comes during the snow removal process.

If you don’t prepare for ice buildup, you can risk slips and falls, as well as flooding when that ice melts.

commercial snow removal truck with plow at a cleared HOA entrance

And, if you don’t prepare your hardscapes for that repetitive freeze-and-thaw cycle, you can get heaving or cracks that can create hazardous areas for people moving about on your commercial property.

Even turf needs preparation, or it can result in snow plow damage, salt burn or snow mold buildup.

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The way to avoid these issues is to properly prepare your commercial facility to avoid winter landscape damage. This gets you through the rough season so come springtime you have a great-looking property.

Avoid unsightly damage and cut down on expensive spring repairs. Try these winter preparation tactics to protect your commercial landscapes this winter.

1. Flag Snow Removal Obstructions Before Winter

Anything that protrudes from the ground that can be covered by snow can become a hazard to your commercial snow removal providers. 

Water meter covers or utility hardware, for instance – they could easily be covered by piled snow and are prime targets to be damaged by snow removal equipment.

Piled snow obscures inconsistencies in paved areas, too. When a snow plow comes along, it doesn't take much of an edge for damage to occur. Even a small piece of concrete walkway that sticks up an inch or two could be hit by snow removal machines.

commercial snow removal team member using snowblower on HOA walkway

To avoid this winter landscape damage, conducting a pre-winter walk-through with your commercial snow removal professional can help ensure they spot and flag these risks with snow stakes or safety cones.

Knowing about these areas helps your snow and ice removal expert avoid them, and will avoid the headache of expensive repairs in spring.

2. Highlight Paver Surfaces Like Walkways and Courtyards

Make sure to show your commercial snow and ice removal professional any paver areas you have that need cleared during winter.


Interlocking concrete pavers are a beautiful addition to any landscape. And while they are more durable than pavement or poured concrete in many ways, snow removal equipment can change things in a hurry.

Unlike poured pavement surfaces, concrete pavers have countless edges and seams that can be cracked or uplifted by plow blades. 

These areas require rubber-edged plow blades to protect the pavers from winter landscape damage. Rubber-edged blades have more give than traditional steel blades, meaning paver surfaces can be cleared without the risk of significant damage.

And, unlike asphalt, concrete pavers are especially susceptible to salt damage. Our teams using calcium chloride to treat poured concrete walkways, and paver surfaces should be treated in the same manner.

Before the season gets underway, make sure your snow removal provider has been notified of all paver walkways, patios and driveways to ensure proper removal is communicated to team members.

Read Our Guide to Year-Round Commercial Landscaping

3. Prune Potentially Hazardous Trees & Shrubs Before Winter

Properly pruning the trees on your commercial property in Greater Chicago means removing dead, diseased, dying or damaged branches on a regular basis.

These are the branches and limbs that are most susceptible to falling and causing further damage to your property or the people who navigate your site every day. 

While these branches can cause problems throughout the year, the additional weight of snow and ice can stress them to the breaking point. This is especially hazardous near areas of heavy foot or automobile traffic. 

commercial landscape maintenance technician pruning evergreen tree branches

By keeping up with tree pruning, you can clear out potential problems in your planting beds and avoid costly damage or danger to buildings, cars and pedestrians below.

4. Mark Pavement Edges with High-Visibility Snow Stakes

While you can mark potential snow removal hazards with flags, you want to protect your entire landscape from potential damage. 

For long walkways, or roadside turf and planting beds, marking the edges of pavement with snow stakes is the best way to prevent snow removal damage to long stretches of your landscape.

To keep track of turf edge lines and other hazardous or sensitive areas on your commercial site, you can use snow stakes to alert your snow and ice removal professional that something is there that the snow plow should avoid.

Most snow removal takes place overnight, when traffic is minimal and snow removal and be performed most easily. In the dark, and buried by snow, the edge where pavement meets landscape becomes obscured even after small snowfall events.

Tall, high-visibility snow stakes alert your snow removal teams to these critical edges, making sure that turf and landscape damage is held to a minimum.

cleared sidewalk at an HOA with snow stakes marking edges of the walkway in the snow

Traffic cones also work to highlight areas like driveway or entryway speed bumps that snow plow drivers may not see once covered in snow. It’s a simple preparation step that can help you avoid a lot of winter landscape damage.

A good snow removal company will even provide and install these markers for you before the season begins.

5. Plan For All Types of Snow and Ice Events

You want to ensure your commercial snow removal professional is ready for the season with enough salt and deicing products to handle whatever ice accumulation the season brings.

It's important to understand that not all winter weather events are the same, and your snow removal provider will approach different events accordingly.

Your snow removal provider will get ready for a blizzard much differently than a potential dusting. Heavier events will be more about removal than treatment, while dustings can sometimes be handled by salt and de-icer alone.

Sleet and ice events may also require specific preparations, like pre-treating, that might not occur with different types of winter accumulation.

Heading into a winter weather event with the wrong products, equipment or manpower can lead to damage to landscapes and structures that would not occur otherwise.

These products and techniques prevent ice build-up on walkways, paths, entryways, and sidewalks, which ensures your customers, employees, visitors and guests can safely access your building.

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If you have a large site, you might even have an agreement with your professional grounds management company that enables you to store salt and deicing products on your property, so it’s right there when needed. This little bit of preparation goes a long way in avoiding winter landscape damage that ice can cause.

If your site is large enough, you may even include provisions in your contract to keep some larger equipment on site like skid-steer loaders to streamline snow and ice management services even further.

In your snow removal contract, this can be called a monthly “ready fee” that ensures equipment is ready to use when needed.

6. Ice-Melt Variety May Be Necessary To Avoid Rock Salt Damage to Concrete

There are two types of ice melt products commonly used in Greater Chicago: rock salt and calcium chloride.

Rock salt is sodium chloride - the same thing as common table salt. It is easily available except when extreme and extended winter weather has caused local shortages, and is relatively inexpensive.

While it's very effective on roads and parking lots, rock salt has its drawbacks. It can be very harmful to some plant life if used too close to landscape beds, or if it used to excess.

In addition, concrete surfaces can become pockmarked, discolored and more prone to cracking if subjected to significant salt coverage.

To protect plants, salt runoff from snowmelt or rain should be managed as well as possible. Because of its potential for plant damage, using it on large, open areas like parking lots is the best way to protect against unsightly and expensive plant and turf damage.

commercial snow removal technician spreading icemelt on a sidewalk

Using calcium chloride can help you avoid rock salt damage to concrete. This product can be less harmful to plants than other deicers, but you still want to use it properly (it has no benefit as a fertilizer). By the end of the snow season, calcium chloride can also become quite expensive.

When it comes to grasping the differences between these two ice-melting products, your commercial snow and ice removal professional can help you figure out what’s best for your property based on your specific needs and goals. 

Don’t Neglect Preparation to Avoid Winter Landscape Damage on Your Commercial Property

It may be hard to envision all the snow and ice piling up on your site and what will or won’t be visible once it shows up.

A walkthrough and some simple preparation steps can ensure winter landscape damage is limited.

We know you’re busy and you may have no time to get to this task. Let KD Landscape help. By preparing early, you can save time, money, and headaches through winter and into spring.

Want to learn more about our winter commercial property preparation service in Greater Chicago? Get started today with a free quote. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice.

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