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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sand for safety--year round

confused yet?
Winter safety purchase
Every winter, just before predicted icing of roads and walkways, I rush out and buy 40 lbs of play sand. I should prepare earlier because very few bags of sand were left this fall. Someone at Lowe's loads the horrendously heavy bag into the car, of course. I can still manage to drag the bag from the car and down into my little red wagon. Later, I have to find someone to put it into a five-gallon bucket. I can fill the bucket, one scoop at a time if I must.

Preparing for ice
This bucket stays right outside the side door I exit. Inside the bucket of sand is a butter bowl or yogurt dish. That way, I can sprinkle sand down the five concrete steps to the bottom only as I need the traction. At that point, I can get onto grass and not slip. On the bottom step I keep a yogurt bowl full of sand. If it is icy when I try to get back up the steps, I just sprinkle enough on each step to put a foot. I safely work my way upwards this way. 

It will ruin concrete, shoes, and eventually cause runoff that will cause barren ground. I do not want to deliberately ruin my chances of getting grass or even weeds to grow.

Spring safety with sand
Each spring, I dispose of the sand by using it to fill holes in the yard. Some of the holes or depressions are a foot across. Others. like the one in the picture, are just three or four inches wide and deep. Either way, they are always out in the deep St. Augustine grass, where I cannot see them.

These holes cause me to become off-balance, stumble, or turn my ankle. I have fallen, but not in a few years. That happened this morning as I was at the clothesline. I stepped backwards into a hole that only held my heel. I was momentarily off-balance, but the wrenching myself aright hurt my knee that needs surgery, my lower back, and the shoulder injury that may be a torn rotator cuff.

Consequently, I decided today was the day to fill that hole and others. Okay, maybe just that one.

The problem with islands of sand?
Cats think I have prepared multiple litter boxes for their comfort stations. No no no, silly puddy tats!

The solution?
Red pepper sprinkled liberally keeps cats away. As a matter of fact, I sprinkle red pepper around plants when I plant them in the ground. It discourages the many cats in the neighborhood. Of course, the pepper must be reapplied after the rain. It takes very little pepper, just two or three shakes. Also, sometimes heavy dew dissipates it. This sounds like a daily chore, but you can keep the outdoor pepper handy by leaving it outside. Besides, the cats just don't bother to come after a few days. I still try to keep it on the sand most of the time. I do fail at that.

Too expensive?
Yes, it is at most stores. I found a 2.75 ounce bottle of 5th Season Ground Red Pepper at WalMart for 50 cents. I only use it for sand preparation, so it will last for years.  The container is about 5 inches tall, so there is lots of pepper.

Your turn
Do you ever prepare your outdoor walking places with sand? Keep sand handy like I do? Do you ever use red pepper to keep cats from your garden?


  1. wow, two fabulous ideas! our folks in town have more trouble with cats than we do, so can't wait to share that. And the're so right about the salt's effect...sand is the perfect solution. thanks for another great post, Practical!

  2. Dmarie, Thanks for stopping by. Tell those city folk to just leave the pepper on the porch or near the garden, out of rain, of course. Then, the red pepper chore is not so difficult.


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