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How to Prepare Your Construction Site for Winter

Posted By Marty Wessler on November 20, 2014

Do you have an active construction site? Managing sediment, erosion, and pollutants on construction sites can become a great challenge in the late fall, winter, and early spring.


With winter months and cold weather just around the corner, adjust your erosion control and pollution prevention plan to account for winter conditions.

Ground Cover, Mulch, and Soil

Vegetated ground cover cannot be established outside of the growing season. In general, grasses will grow between March 1st and September 30th. Alternate methods of soil stabilization must be implemented October through February.

Mulch may be applied at a thicker application rate on relatively flat surfaces to protect bare areas. Do not apply mulch to ice or snow covered surfaces. Mulch may be secured with netting to hold it in place or erosion control blankets may be used to protect soil surfaces.

Limit the amount of disturbed soil at any given time and prepare finished areas for final stabilization as soon as construction is complete in an area.

Swales and Ditches

Swales or ditches without well-established vegetative cover by the end of October can be stabilized with stone or geotextile to prevent erosion in these areas of concentrated flow.

When possible, plan to keep vegetated buffer strips at the downhill end of a slope to naturally control erosion and to filter sediments in stormwater runoff.

Prepare for Freeze, Melt, and Thaw

Practices that must be anchored or dug into the ground are difficult to install when the ground is frozen. Plan ahead to install silt fence, erosion control blankets, sediment filters, and other measures before the ground becomes frozen.

Prepare for snow melt conditions or ground thawing. When ambient temperatures begin to increase, disturbed soils and bare areas can become a muddy mess and soils will begin to migrate downslope. Implement surface stabilization practices and sediment barriers to limit the amount of soil movement.

Plowing Snow

If snow is plowed on a construction site, the snow piles must be inspected during snow melt to remove trash and debris. Place snow stockpiles at the downhill end of a construction site to reduce the amount of water flowing across the site during a snow melt condition.

Through the winter months, inspect the site regularly to identify areas that may require additional measures and repair and maintain existing measures promptly.

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