Serious Winter Protection

I’m just back from another trip to Montreal. While there’s no snow yet, people there are READY for winter, and the preparations include their plants, shrubs and even their stairs and walkways.

funny-looking but effective

If you walk around looking at people’s front gardens, you see the shrubs and small trees all wrapped up like presents. This not only protects them from the cold, ice storm breakage and desiccating wind, for plants near the sidewalks, it also protects against ice melting chemicals. Believe me, they use a lot of those up there.

Here’s a line of boxwoods all wrapped up and ready for whatever winter – and city crews – throw at them.

While they’re at it, many Montrealers prepare their walkways and steps for winter, too. Sometimes this involves laying down rubber mats, but most people put down coir matting and affix it so it doesn’t buckle or peel away. Ice does not form on this stuff, so your front walk is much safer.

coir matting on top of stone

And speaking of winter prep, in Montreal, for the past couple of years, if you don’t get your snow tires on your car by December 15th, you can be fined – heavily. Up there, they don’t have time for people spinning their “all season” radials on the hills. Like I said, when winter finally does arrive, it’s serious.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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16 Responses to Serious Winter Protection

  1. Peg says:

    So that coir matting seems cool. How does it hold up under snow-shoveling?


    • dirtynailz says:

      It holds up well. You pull it up in the spring, rinse it if it’s salty and store it somewhere dry. It does break down after a few winters, though.


  2. fairegarden says:

    Hmm, I never thought about the chemicals they use to melt the ice but know how damaging that can be. Even the few times the city used that stuff on the streets here, it has pitted the concrete driveway where the particles flew up onto it. I can imagine what it would do to prized plants. Good to know about the coir, thanks! 🙂


    • dirtynailz says:

      Frances, the sidewalks are completely covered in these chemicals, otherwise people would be falling all over the place. My dogs used to whimper in pain because their paw pads were burning. I’d be quite a sight, picking up two dachshunds and scurrying to clean white snow.
      Plants anywhere near the sidewalks don’t stand a chance unless they’re protected. I was there last winter and it was so icy I had to wear crampons for most of my visit – and that was after they’d put down chemicals! Those coir mats help a lot. Ice does not adhere to them.


  3. Wendy says:

    I love that coir matting. I should seriously look into some larger sections of coir for my parents’ use. It tends to get really icy and dumping salt down constantly doesn’t seem like the best answer.


    • dirtynailz says:

      In Montreal, people install permanent hardware that enables them to use metal rods that secure the matting so it doesn’t wrinkle or come up when it is swept or shoveled. It makes a huge difference in traction and safety – especially great for parents who are afraid of falling!


  4. Peg says:

    Okay, so I googled the coir matting, mats, erosion control… Found a UK company, but thought that was a little extreme. Found a US place but smallest size was 6’5″ wilde in 100# roll.

    Can we buy this stuff somewhere? 🙂


  5. herbdoc says:

    Hi Peg!

    Try a company called Improvements at 1-800-634-9484. They advertsie coir rolls for walkways; 2 “carpets” 10 feet long by 18 inches for $19.99.


  6. Peg says:

    Awesome! Thanks so much…


  7. herbdoc says:

    You’re welcome! Let us know how it works out.


  8. GardensAreForEver says:

    Thanks, Cynthia.
    It is a great public service announcement!
    I will try to buy it for my mother-in-law who lives in the mountains of NH
    It gets pretty icy up there!


    • dirtynailz says:

      I am really surprised at the reaction to this post. I guess I just assumed everyone knew about the coir matting. But now that I think about it, since I have lived in Rhode Island, I have not seen it used anywhere.
      It really does work.


  9. gardenandthegoodlife says:

    I live in Boston now, but I grew up in Montreal and it gets soooo cold and icy up there. We still have family there and last year my husband brought back a few huge rolls of the coir because he could not get it here. Everyone puts it on their steps……


  10. wifirepeater says:

    Informative and entertaining. Ive added your blog to my reading material. Keep me updated!


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