Winter Waterland


Here are some helpful tips for responsible watershed stewardship during the winter months.

Ice Melts

Apply lightly and early. Apply ice melting products BEFORE it snows or ices; afterwards, the effectiveness decreases. Apply sparingly as everything eventually flows into our waters.

Read the label. There are several types of ice-melting materials on the market. Each material works at different temperatures and speeds, and also has its own set of “side effects.” Which one is right for you?

Watch an ice melt how-to video from CA Watershed Manager John McCoy.

Don’t use fertilizers or products that contain urea. Runoff from these materials can be very harmful to local streams and the bay.

Product Min. Working Temp. (ºF)   Speed  Damages Concrete & Metal? Harms Plants?
Magnesium Chloride -13 Very Fast No Moderately
Calcium Chloride -22 Fast Yes* Yes
Sodium Chloride (Salt) 18 Moderate Yes* Yes
Potassium Chloride 25 Slow OK on old concrete Moderately

(Table Credit: University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center,
*Sodium and Calcium Chloride are particularly damaging to newly poured concrete. Also these chemicals should not be applied to brick or stone surface.

Recycle Holiday Trees

Prep your tree. Remove all tinsel, garland and other manmade materials. Put the tree out the night before pick up.

Curbside Pickup: Dec. 26-Jan.18. On your normal recycling day, Howard County will pick up your holiday tree. Do not leave it out on trash day.

Drop Off: Anytime. Trees can be dropped off at anytime to Kendall Hardware (12260 Route 108), River Hill Garden Center (12165 Route 108), Cedar Lane Park (5081 Cedar Lane) and Grandfather’s Garden Center (5320 Phelps Luck Drive).

For more quick and easy tips for small actions that make a big difference in Columbia’s watershed, visit


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Filed under Green Initiatives, Watershed

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