Mulch as snow melter?


Mulch as Snow melter
I have a 60 foot long 2 ½ foot wide concrete pathway bordering my back garden, leading to a laneway and garage. The path is full of packed snow. Since I have 125 litres of fine mulch in my garage(and cabin fever), If I spread my mulch along the pathway, since the mulch breaks down, would it do any harm, since we’re 30 days from spring?
It’s a better alternative to salt, and could make the path less slippery.
The mulch will end up in the garden anyway. The bags are probably a bit stiff, but I think they’ll be brittle enough to divide the remains of my mulch.
Can mulch help with traction?


Thank you for contating the Toronto Master gardeners with your inquiry.

you might be interested in some other eco-friendly alternatives to road salt.

The following is from one of our earlier posts:

Most ice melts have a high pH level and this burns the lawn, killing it, if large amounts seep onto the grass.   Rock salt is the worst offender. The good news is that small patches of “burn” in your lawn can easily be repaired. The people promoting calcium based ice/snow melt as being the safest seem to be the producers of the product and the evidence is mostly anecdotal. It’s so much better to avoid these products if at all possible.

The following response was posted on the Toronto Master Gardener Website on February 8, 2011.  Hope you find it helpful.

It is very good of you to think about alternatives to the detrimental use of salt and snow melting compounds in our environment. The products that are less toxic work better for creating traction rather than for snow melting and most of the time they are only effective at certain temperatures only.

  • Sand (Horticultural sand). It makes slippery areas less so by providing gripping. Only sprinkle it. Careful not to apply too much as this could block the city drains. If possible shovel back into the garden unless you think it has been contaminated with salt from adjacent properties.
  • Coffee grinds. Same as above.
  • Cat litter (choose biodegradable one). Same as above. Please note that once the snow melts, it leaves a mush on the pavement.
  • Saw dust. Same as above.
  • Ashes. Ok for garden but not for fruit and vegetable gardens.
  • Sugar Beet Juice. Effective up to -25C. Helps by lowering the freezing point of water. It was used this year by the City of Toronto, mixed with road salt.
  • Alfalfa meal. Melts ice and provides traction. Used as a fertilizer. However, be aware that you may have some alfalfa sprouting in the spring!

Please be also aware of some ‘eco’ alternatives. Just because a product says ‘green, eco, natural or organic’, it does not necessarily makes it safe for your plants and pets. I personally have not used salt in the 20 years I have lived in my house but I am also very disciplined at shoveling snow, breaking ice clumps and sprinkling sand on the areas were pedestrian will walk.”

Lastly, with regards to your question regarding mulch as an alternative, you’ll be interested to know that Montreal and Rosemere have been testing wood chips which have been coated in magnesium chloride as an alternative to road salt. They have determined that the wood chips is an effective, cost effective environmentally friendly alternative. This is discussed in the following two links: