Steve Hoogenakker "Audaces Fortuna Juvat"


The enormous cost of abusing salt de-icers for your commercial properties’ budget and the environment

By: Steve Hoogenakker

The use of salt as a deicer on on commercial properties’ roads and sidewalks is the preferred method to promote safe motor vehicle and pedestrian travel during winter months. The most commonly used deicing salt is sodium chloride (NaCl). Sodium Chloride effectively depresses the freezing point of water to melt ice. But what are the impacts of salt applications to drinking-water supplies and watershed ecosystems?

The application of NaCl and its environmental consequences have come under scrutiny by the environmental and scientific communities as well as regulators and legislators.

There is growing concern over plant habitat, wildlife kills, and water-quality issues. It is estimated that the United States applies 8-12 million tons of salt on the roads annually. Living in Minnesota, we certainly get more than our share of this total. The question is, how much damage to the environment is caused by dumping the equivalent of 20 pounds of salt on the ground for every man, woman and child in the U.S. each year?

Environmental Fate

Soil with high salt concentrations affect biotic communities, hinder plants ability to uptake nutrients and reduce root growth.



Damage to vegetation hurts wildlife habitat by destroying food resources, shelter, and  nesting sites..There have even been reports of bird kills. The thinking is that birds might not be able to distinguish between salt crystals and the grit their diets require. Salt can be an irritant to dogs and cats too.

Infrastructure Impacts

In addition to the public health and environmental problems associated with chloride deicers, the corrosivity of road salt adversely impacts motor vehicles and infrastructure. In vehicles, corrosion can affect critical vehicle parts, such as brake linings, frames, and bumpers, and of course, surface rust on the body. Commercial sidewalks receive a lot of damage each year.

“Pet Safe” products

Many bags of salt promote the fact that they are pet safe. In practice, most pet safe salts have a blend of different chemicals, some of which can be an irritant to pets. Magnesium Chloride and CMA are more “pet and environmentally friendly” than Sodium Chloride, but there still may be other salts in the blend.


So, what is the solution for commercial property managers? your winter maintenance contract. Does your contract call for auto salting by the contractor whether the site needs it or not? Although the numbers vary widely, most snowfalls in the Twin Cities don’t require salting. If we have 20 snow events in a season, Maybe 4-7 need salt. So salting 20 times is not only damaging your property and the environment, but you’re throwing dollars out the window as the contractor has built in the cost of the 20 saltings in your contract.

It’s better to have your on site manager determine when and where salt is applied on your property. Since the contractor does not come out daily, conditions can get out of hand easily.

2. Even if a site requires salt, many times putting the proper amount of salt on intersections, hills and underground parking ramps are all that is needed. That alone will save at least 50% of the salt applied.

3. Temperatures matter! At 30 degrees, one pound of salt melts 40 pounds of ice, while at 20 degrees, one pound of salt melts only10 pounds of ice, a 400% difference! And the air temperature is a minor part of the equation. Does your contractor apply varying amounts of salt to your property at different temperatures? Do the varying amounts show up when they bill for salt, or does it always seem to be “2 tons” every time? Can you afford to be billed 400% more for salt not used?

4. Barrels of salt/sand. 10 years ago, we were applying mixtures of 80% sand and 20% salt as THE standard application for townhomes. The salt was in there basically to keep the sand from freezing solid in the spreader. Nowadays, sand is rarely used on private lots, but there is still a place for sand. Your contractor can usually provide sand barrels for your association. They’ll place them next to hills and parking ramps, or wherever you want them. It’s that same 80/20 mix of sand/salt. They’ll provide a cover and a scoop for residents to use whenever needed. When a barrel runs low, call the contractor and he’ll refill it. At the end of the season, the contractor picks up the barrel and stores it.

Road-Salt Alternatives

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

CMA is relatively harmless to plants and animals, noncorrosive to metals, and nondestructive to concrete and other highway materials. CMA is very expensive and is required by customers with raised parking decks or concrete parking areas. Because of it’s expense, it’s use as a parking lot deicer is limited, but can be found in bagged salt as a blend to be used on sidewalks. CMA acts more slowly and is less effective than salt in cold conditions.

Magnesium Chloride. Another good choice if you’re concerned about pets and the environment. Magnesium Chloride also  melts ice at much lower temperatures than Sodium Chloride.

There are many choices in materials, application methods and outcomes. Working together, we can come up with the best choices for your individual properties.

Print Friendly

Inside our company, we’ve been discussing mother nature’s effect on our lawns. It’s no surprise that it’s been a strange season for weather. Honestly, every season seems strange. This one started out with over 400 funnel clouds early in the season, followed by plenty of rainfall, and an extended period of hot, humid weather. The item that’s caught our attention is the bumper crop of weeds.  We expect a lot of weeds during hot, dry weather, but not in a season with plentiful rainfall.

 So, why the bumper crop of weeds? It shouldn’t be a surprise when you hear that on August 30th, it was announced that Minnesota farmers are expecting all time record crops this year. It’s obvious that growing conditions are excellent.

Crabgrass is a particularly tough problem. Crabgrass crowds out healthy turf and a single plant can leave behind an ugly purple skeleton along with 3000 seeds to germinate in your lawn for the next few years, so control is critical. Most companies apply crabgrass control once in the spring. We’ve taken the proactive stance of applying  it twice as a pre-emergent and have spot treated during the summer as a third treatment.

Let’s recap the year:                

Mild growing conditions in the spring and early summer produced beautiful lawns, but excessive heat and rainfall have produced some weary and weedy lawns that will need assistance to recover this fall. Statewide precipitation rates well above normal provided ample water for lawn growth, but while your sprinklers may have been growing cobwebs, lawns in Minnesota were being set up for decline from diseases, weeds, insects, and summer stress.

Dollar spot and red thread were active through June, but the more deadly brown patch and Pythium have reared their ugly head in late July and August to finish off some of the weaker lawns.

This was a terrible year for crabgrass and yellow nutsedge. Pre-emergence herbicides generally give 85 to 100% control of crabgrass, but this year’s excessive rain and high temperature reduced efficacy of crabgrass control products. High moisture and high temperature are two factors that increase the activity of soil microorganisms that ultimately ingest the herbicide and render it inactive for season long weed control.

Lawns inundated with crabgrass by August 2010 will benefit from pre-emergence crabgrass control in spring 2011 to reduce the infestation of crabgrass that is eminent; seed from this year’s heavy infestation will germinate next summer and the cycle of crabgrass will continue.

Should you try to kill the heavy infestation of crabgrass now? When crabgrass covers less than 25% of the turf area, do nothing. Crabgrass will die after the first frost and the Kentucky bluegrass will usually fill in the areas through the dead crabgrass. However, if the Kentucky bluegrass is being smothered beneath a layer of crabgrass that covers 50 to 100% of the visible lawn surface additional action is needed. The thick, uncontrolled mat of crabgrass will dominate the turf until the first killing frost that usually occurs in October; then it will be too late to establish Kentucky bluegrass from seed. Contact your lawn care company for assistance to suppress or kill the existing crabgrass to aid re-establishment. Power rake and reseed in early September.

White grubs and bluegrass billbugs are our two major lawn insects. There were some bluegrass billbugs this year but damage was very limited compared to past years with drier conditions. Annual white grubs of the masked chafer and Japanese beetle are showing up in ample supply and right on schedule for Mid-August. Grub damage may be concealed by ample rainfall in late summer, only to appear during a dry spell. Curative insecticides are only effective between now and early October.

Summer Stress
High temperature and excessive moisture are a deadly combination that cause stress for cool-season grasses grown in Minnesota lawns (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue). High temperatures favor warm-season grasses such as crabgrass while cool-season grasses suffer. This partially explains why crabgrass can overtake Kentucky bluegrass as the summer progresses.

Excessive moisture also contributes to lawn decline in the summer. Roots need air to survive. Oxygen is displaced in soggy or flooded soils and the anaerobic conditions cause the roots to not function properly. Imagine lying down in the sun of your front yard in the hottest part of the day on a sunny, soggy and humid bed of grass. You wouldn’t last but a few minutes. Grass plants in the sun can’t get up and move to the shade. They’re stuck, and when the evaporative cooling system begins to shut down the grass plant, thatch, and soil surface quickly heat up to the existing air temperature or higher. Plants can be literally cooked to death by direct heat injury as plant tissue temperatures rise above 95 degrees F. Temperatures this year were sufficient to cause rapid injury directly from high temperatures and indirectly from prolonged periods of high temperatures that eventually depleted stored carbohydrates. Weakened plants with slow growth were often overcome by brown patch and pythium diseases that flourished when night time temperatures were greater than 72 degrees F.

What to do
The bad news is that several lawns have succumbed to the various woes of summer described above. The good news is that now is the best time to rejuvenate damaged lawns. This may be a good time to kill the existing mess and start over with improved grass varieties suitable for your lawn. Consult your local lawn care professional company to develop a plan to recover your lawn through aerification, slicing, seeding, and fertilizing.

By Dave Minner, Department of Horticulture & Steve Hoogenakker, Concierge Landscape Environments

Print Friendly

Maintenance Free Living!  Really?

 When a member asked me to address the belief of homeowners, that HOA living is maintenance free living, the zippy Green Acres theme song came to mind immediately. “Green Acres is the place for me, farm livin’ is the life for me… It continues on “The Chores.. The Stores.. Fresh Air… Town Square…”

I mean, the whole premise of the show was about Eddie Albert & Eva Gabor moving  from a complicated city life to their own piece of “the promised land” to enjoy nirvana. Nearly all the comedy revolved around the Douglas’s interactions with “real” people and misconceptions about a simple lifestyle they thought they would enjoy.

This isn’t much different than the belief that moving from a single family home to an HOA would make life carefree. Well, without the comedy and Arnold Ziffle, the pig.

Where does the thinking come from?

In general, many developers sell units implying the Association repairs everything and pays for everything, via dues.  They don’t explain that some items, like a leaky or clogged kitchen sink or a low battery in a smoke detector is the homeowner’s responsibility.  They also don’t understand the concept of a benefit assessment – i.e. a certain element is used exclusively by one homeowner so the association assesses the cost of repair back to the unit owner who benefits from said element – like a waste pipe or a fence or whatever. 

In addition, some people think they live in an apartment – or assisted living.  People call the property manager complaining about smoke detectors beeping because of a low battery or burned out light bulbs in their living rooms and are aghast when I tell them I’m happy to send someone over there, but they’ll get charged for it.  One woman called a manager 3 days in row to keep the manager updated on her fight with a spider web in her garage.

If you think that homeowners are entirely responsible for this thinking, you’d be wrong. In a quick search of one local real estate’s company, using the term “maintenance free”, there were over 1,200 homes for sale! There were even 4 farms listed as maintenance free.  Now, that’s funny. 

Senior communities tout the maintenance free benefits, and for good reason.  Many of the seniors have health problems that keep them from doing a lot of maintenance. Townhome living is meant to be easy.

Think about the term “maintenance free” during the winter.  I’m sorry to say, snow season is expected to make another surprise entrance in about 90 days. (Yuk) One of the biggest benefits of living in an association is that the lawn care is done, the driveway is plowed and the sidewalks are shoveled. Is there some maintenance required by the homeowner if the downspout is spilling water that freezes onto a sidewalk? It’s certainly not in the governing docs, but some common sense is in order here.  What would a good neighbor do? What if you had a pregnant daughter coming to visit? Do you say well, it’s not my responsibility;  C’est La Vie or do you get out there and do something about it? At the very least, call and let someone know about the dangerous situation or make sure the outside lights are working.

It amazes me that during a snowfall at an HOA, there are always a handful of people who shovel their driveway and sidewalk off, even before the snow has stopped and while our trucks are working down the street. I often wonder what drives these people to do something they don’t have to do. I just assume they care about their association and neighbors. Maybe they’re doing their neighbors sidewalk, maybe they’re trying to help us? If we all thought and acted like these neighbors, I don’t think worrying about light bulbs would even come up.  

Association living isn’t responsibility free either. A homeowner who just sits back and waits for the board to decide everything to their satisfaction is not going to work out for that homeowner or anyone else in the association who might be experiencing the same thing. Boards & property managers really need more (quality) inputs from the homeowners so they can do their job.

Contribute your time and ideas to make your association a better place to live for everyone.

Don’t believe everything the developer and salesperson said about maintenance free living. What’s wrong with doing your part and maybe just a bit more to realize the feeling at the end of the theme song…”You are my wife.. Goodbye city life, Green Acres We Are There!”

Print Friendly

Minnesota – God’s Country

Aug 12 – Moved to Minnesota. It is so beautiful here. The hills are so serene and beautiful. Can hardly wait to see snow cover them. God’s country…I love it here.

Oct 14 – Minnesota is the most beautiful place. The leaves are turning all different colors, I love the shades of red and orange. I went for a ride through the beautiful country side and spotted some deer, they are so graceful certainly they are the most peaceful animals on earth. This must be paradise Minnesota, I love it here.

Nov 11 – Deer season will start soon. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to kill such an elegant creature. The very symbol of peace and tranquillity. Hope it will snow soon…I love it here.

Dec 2 – It snowed last night. Woke up to find everything blanketed in white, it looks like a post card. We went outside and cleaned the snow off of the steps and shoveled the driveway. We had a snowball fight, (I won) and when the snowplow came by, we had to shovel the driveway out again. What a beautiful place. Mother nature in perfect harmony… I love Minnesota.

Dec 12 – More snow last night. I love it. The snowplow did his trick again (that rascal). Winter wonderland… I love it here.

Dec 19 – More snow last night. Couldn’t get out of the driveway to get to work this time. I’m exhausted from shoveling. Dang snowplow…

Dec 22 – More of the white stuff fell last night. I’ve got blisters on my hands from all this dang shoveling. I think the snow plow man hides around the corner and waits till I’m done shoveling my driveway…what a jerk!

Dec 25 – “White Christmas” my busted butt. More friggin’ snow. If I ever get my hands on that son-of-a-bee who drives that snow plow, I swear I’ll castrate that dumb idiot. Don’t know why they don’t use more salt on the roads to melt this god forsaken ice.

Dec 28 – More white stuff fell last night. Been inside since Christmas Day, except for shoveling out the driveway after “Snow Plow Harry” comes by, the prick…d_ _ _ car is behind a ton of snow. The weatherman said to expect another 10 inches of white crap tonight. Do you know how many shovels of snow 10 inches is?

Jan 1 – Happy Friggin’ New Year. The weatherman was wrong (again.) We didn’t get 10″ last night, we got 34″, stupid a_ _ weatherman anyway. At this rate it won’t melt before the 4th of July. The snow plow got stuck up the road and the jerk had the gall to come to the door and asked to borrow my shovel. After I told him I’ve broken 6 shovels already, shoveling all the sh@# he pushed into my driveway, I broke the last one over his friggin’ head.

Jan 4 – Finally got out of the house today. Went to the store to get food, on the way back a damn deer ran in front of me. I hit the big furry rat and tore my car all to hell. Did $3,000 in damages. Those worthless beasts should be killed. Wish the hunters had killed all of them last November.

May 3 – Took the car to the garage in town. Would you believe the thing rotted out from all damn salt they keep dumping all over the road. Car looks like a piece of crap

May 10 – Moved back to Oklahoma, I can’t imagine why anyone in their right f@#$%^$ mind would ever want to live in this g@#-forsaken place called Minnesota.

Print Friendly

Have you ever had a discussion with a renter, employee or HOA board manager that just didn’t click? Would you like to know how to communicate with people in your industry, regardless of how different their personality is?

A few years ago, I was introduced to the subject of personality profiling. By understanding the four different personality types, you can significantly increase understanding of board members, employees, and even your family. You will

experience amazing results. The personality profiling system is called DISC testing.

The letters DISC stand for the four prominent personality types. All people fit into this scheme in one way or another, and are usually a combination of a least two of these types. These types are as follows:

High D stands for dominating.

High I  stands for influencer.

High S stands for steadiness.

High C stands for compliance.

Let’s first take a look at how to use DISC testing to develop a team, and then study how to use this system to communicate more effectively with prospects and clients to really enhance your abilities in any endeavor.

Most property managers and some company or board presidents will find that they fit into the High D category. If you are a High D, you’ll be the driving force in your company. You are the leader. You are the quarterback of the team. You are innovative and organized. You want quick results. You want everything abbreviated, because you have the ability to quickly assess a situation and make a rapid decision.

Although all these are outstanding qualities, you, (High D’s) have to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just because something has been discussed, it doesn’t mean that the task is immediately accomplished by waving a magic wand. You need to learn to be more patient and to listen more often. Most importantly, you need to realize that the rest of the people in your world are trying frantically to keep up the rapid pace you have set for yourself.

If you are just a bit friendlier, and make an effort to compliment your staff on a job well done, it will go a long way in gaining their trust. They will then feel more comfortable in approaching you with new ideas, or with problems they may have

Let’s take a look at high I. The high I personality, or the influencer, is a very social person. I find that many great sales people fall into this category. They are the master net-workers. They are charming and upbeat, with loads of team spirit, and are instinctively great communicators. This is the type of person who is motivated by popularity and acceptance.

Give the high I on your team lots of interaction with clients and prospects in order to fulfill their social needs. They need to be able to interact and socialize—this is very important to them.

The High I typically lacks organizational skills, and will need help from the high D on your team in this area. They will also motivate others towards the common goal.

They are the cheerleaders on the team. They are the people who work the room at a cocktail party, and often walk out with fifteen to twenty business cards. These are the people who are at various events at CAI, MHA, Twin West, etc.

Let’s examine the high S. The high S person is noted for loyalty. These are the team players. These are the people who have an amazing ability to add a personal touch that sets the team apart from their competition.

As long as the High S has a clear understanding of the business model, they will carry it out with extreme devotion, because they crave a stable environment to work in.

They are characterized by their ability to maintain deeply loyal relationships, because they are motivated by safety, security, and recognition of that loyalty

However, if the high S has a disagreement with others on the team, watch out! They will be inclined to hold it inside, since they don’t like conflict or sudden change.

To complete our tour of the four personality types, let’s look at the high C. High C personalities are the analytical problem solvers of the world. They border on being compulsively meticulous. I’m sure you have most likely had clients along these lines.

High C’s have the ability to offer creative solutions to complex problems, because they deal well with facts and calculations. This is your classic engineer. At the same time, they are inclined to focus so much on the hard data that they omit the human factor. They can over think the situation, and quite literally make a mountain out of a molehill. When you need a solution that requires close attention to detail, the high C will strive for perfection, and will set an excellent example for the team to follow.

You may find that their attention to detail slows things down too much. This is especially true if you are a high D. The high C likes to work at a snail’s pace, while the high D is running 100 miles per hour. C’s are the folks you dread in the homeowner association; because they are nit-picking every single detail and they cause you lots of headaches.

By testing yourself and your team members, you can gain insight into why certain people click, and how to approach each other with the most favorable outcome in mind.

I have provided you with a cursory DISC test. This test will enable you to assess someone in an initial conversation.  This is not a supplement to a DISC test—the full test is in excess of 100 questions. However, there is a way to be relatively sure of someone’s personality profile by just asking yourself a couple of questions:

Question #1: Is this person more assertive, or more reserved?

Question #2: Is the person more logical, or more emotional? This question may take a few more seconds of conversation for you to answer, since it is a bit more difficult to determine the answer.

Let’s imagine that a new prospect named “Tom” calls to talk with you about the possibility of hiring your property management company. During the conversation, you ask yourself the first question about Tom, “Is he assertive or reserved?”

You notice that he asks lots of questions, and is very forthcoming with information about what his wants, needs, and concerns are. You don’t have to draw information out of him because he is telling you what he wants. You notice that he’s taken control of the situation, and you are having a tough time getting a word in. This means he is assertive.

Since a D and an I are assertive, you’ve determined that Tom is either a high D or a high I, and you are now working within the top half of the quadrant only. An S or a C would be much more reserved.

You then ask yourself, “Is Tom more emotional or more logical?”

He often uses the phrase, “I think.” (instead of “I feel”) He takes time to evaluate his options and to crunch numbers. This leads you to believe that Tom is a logical thinker. The two logical thinkers are high D and high C. However, since you’ve already eliminated high C by asking the first question, we’ve identified Tom as a high D.

Once you’ve established a prospect’s personality type, you have a better understanding of how they process information. This understanding is key to communications.

Let’s continue with Tom. You’ve figured out that he is a high D. You can know put to use your knowledge of the high D personality type. You know they don’t want to take too much time out of their busy day to speak with you. They want things to happen quickly, and they are fast decision-makers. You need to be brief, to the point, and as efficient as possible.

On the contrary, if you have a high I, things are different. On the grid, we have an assertive person who is emotional. With a high I, you want to take some time to ask about their personal interests. You want to ask what they did last weekend, and about their family. Get social, because they relate to that. When you have future appointments with them, be sure to schedule extra time to accommodate their need to chitchat for an extra ten minutes. These touches aren’t to manipulate a person, but to honor them by communicating in their preferred fashion, even if they aren’t aware of what that is.

Let’s say you’ve determined that this person is a high S. Now we are looking at the bottom-right corner of the grid, which represents reserved and emotional. You need to win the trust of a high S. They are loyal team players. If you can make them feel a part of the team, they will champion your cause to the degree that they will be an additional sales rep out in the field.

Don’t be too aggressive when you speak with a high S, because they need to absorb information at their own pace. You must provide them with solutions that speak to their needs of security and stability. They are very family-oriented.

The final personality type you might run into is the high C. Quite frankly. C’s can be the most difficult people to work with. (Except my wife, who is perfect in every way.)  They are very logical and very reserved. They are going to be low-key, and have a long thought process. A high C doesn’t want to listen to a fast-talking person. Deliver information at a slow pace, and deliver facts only. They don’t operate on emotion. These people do very well with spreadsheets.

When receiving a referral from someone familiar with DISC, I might hear: “This person is a high C.” I immediately know that this person will need time to determine whether to work with me, and that they will want to see the numbers in detail. They will also ask lots of specific and detailed questions that I’ll need to be prepared to answer.

In conclusion, working with members of your extended team in utilizing this process is very helpful. The best part about this is that the client wins. They are being treated in the way that works best for them.

This article written by Steve Hoogenakker of Concierge Landscape Environments. Steve has 20 years in the landscaping field.  He can be reached at 763-213-2410 or by email at Steve@Landscape.Pro.

Print Friendly

On hearing one of his students use the expression, “I don’t know nothing about it…” a teacher took the opportunity to explain about double negatives and correct grammar to the class.

The teacher explained, “In the English language a double negative makes the statement positive, so your assertion that you ‘don’t know nothing about it’ is actually an admission that you do know something about it.”

Encouraged by the interest in this revelation among certain class members, the teacher went on to demonstrate more of his knowledge of world languages: “Of course not all languages operate according to the same grammatical rules, for example, in Russian, a double negative remains negative, although perhaps surprisingly, there is not a single language anywhere in the world in which a double positive makes a negative..”

At which a voice from the back of the classroom called out ironically “Yeah, right..”

Print Friendly

SNOW and ICE MELTING MATERIALS – Characteristics and Uses

 ROCK SALT (Sodium Chloride)

  • Easy to use
  • Melts to 12 degrees F
  • Harsh on concrete and landscape plants
  • Inexpensive
  • Salt is a must for 2 reasons: it is inexpensive and it works
  • Major drawbacks include poor melting performance in cold weather and the sodium is deadly to plants
  • Good tractions ability


  • Widely used fertilizer
  • Melts to 20-25 degrees F
  • Safe on plant as a fertilizer
  • Little to no residue
  • High salt index
  • Economical melter
  • Can cause plant damage



  • Fast acting
  • Melts to -20 degrees F
  • Safer on concrete than calcium and potassium chloride
  • More expensive
  • Very similar to calcium chloride, but is only 48% active
  • When comparing magnesium chloride to calcium chloride, you need to double the amount for a cost comparison



  • Fertilizer
  • Melts only to 20-25 degrees F
  • Ok on concrete and landscape plants
  • Economical ice melter
  • Does not contain any plant harming chlorides
  • It can cause fertilizer burn to plants


  • Fastest acting ice melter
  • Melts to -25 to 30 degrees F
  • Safe on concrete
  • More expensive than most ice melters
  • Attracts moisture from the atmosphere
  • When it turns into a solution it give off heat
  • Can leave an oily residue


  • Ice melter that does not attack rebar
  • 4 to 5 times the cost of calcium chloride
  • Less harmful to concrete and vegetation
  • Creates a bond between the surface and elements to protect against corrosion
  • More expensive than most ice melters
  • Minimizes tracking no floors
  • This product does not melt, but turns the snow into an oatmeal texture
  • OK product for driven area, but not sidewalks
  • Does not have the melting power of salt


  • Much better ice melter than CMA
  • Mets to -15 degrees F
  • Can be used as a pre or post application
  • Major drawback is the cost (4 to 5 times the cost of calcium chloride)
  • Available in liquid form only


 Various ice melters have significantly different performance levels, but they all work in much the same way.  NO ice melter is capable of melting snow and ice in its solid state.  Ice melters must first come into contact with sufficient moisture to dissolve and form brine.  The brine lowers the freezing point of water and melts ice and snow on contact.

 To be effective, ice melters must melt their way downward through the snow or ice until they reach the pavement.  There the accumulating brine fans out, breaking the bond between the surface and the ice.  Once sufficient undercutting has occurred, the remaining snow and ice can be removed easily by mechanical means.


Improved performance can be obtained by combining ice melters to produce a blend product.  By adding calcium chloride or some other product to salt increases its ability to work at lower temperatures.  The other product will help the salt dissolve into brine, which improves it melting temperature and ability. 

From Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA)

Print Friendly

Emerald Ash Borer’s effect on common interest communities

By Steve Hoogenakker and the MDA 

Why should I care about EAB?

All ash trees are susceptible to EAB and millions of ash trees have been killed in infested areas already. It’s estimated that townhome associations may have as many as 40% of their trees as ash trees. Minnesota has one of the highest volumes of ash on forestland in the U.S. with an estimated 867 million forestland ash trees and ash is a prominent component of our urban forests as well.

How many trees do you have in your association? If you have 200 units and there’s two trees per unit including common areas, that could mean 160  ash trees. The potential economic and environmental impacts of losing these trees is substantial. The cost of removing and replacing a single tree can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.  In any case, knowing the number and size of ash trees will be helpful and setting  reserves  aside now for future tree replacements or treatments is a good idea.

How do I prepare for EAB affecting my association? You have two choices. You can learn to spot EAB on your own using the links below. The information also includes insecticide information that will teach someone in your association to treat the trees or contact a reputable tree/landscape company especially if there are any large ash trees. Some companies will perform an Ash Tree audit to see how many ashes you have. The three options available for your ash trees are

  1. Remove the Ash trees now and replace with a different tree so the landscape can continue to mature.
  2. Treat the ash trees using an insecticide. The treatments may have to take place for the remainder of the tree’s life. This is probably too expensive for your entire association, but if you have large ash trees in prominent areas, these can’t really be replaced and treatments might be the best option.
  3. Wait until the ash trees die, dispose of properly and replace later.

Emerald Ash Borer is in Minnesota

On May 14, 2009, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was confirmed as present in the South Saint Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul. EAB is a serious invasive tree pest, and consequently a quarantine has been placed on Ramsey, Hennepin, and Houston counties to help slow the spread of EAB to other areas. >>See Quarantine Information

What is EAB?

EAB is an insect that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults are small, iridescent green beetles that live outside of trees during the summer months. The larvae are grub or worm-like and live underneath the bark of ash trees. Trees are killed by the tunneling of the larvae under the tree’s bark.

Where is EAB?

EAB is native to eastern Asia but was discovered in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario in 2002. Indications are it may have been introduced to this area as early 1990. EAB has been spread in ash firewood, nursery stock and possibly other ash materials to a number of new areas

 “Dealing with emerald ash borer is a new challenge for most Minnesotans,” said MDA Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe. “In some cases people may not know when it makes sense to treat their trees and when it doesn’t, or what kind of treatment will work best for their situation.

With so many options out there and so many factors to consider, we thought it would be helpful to provide homeowners with all the relevant information in one small package.”

 “It’s not just a matter of picking the most effective option for your trees,” Friisoe said. “There are potential water quality and human health concerns with some of these products if they are not used properly. We’re doing our best to get that information into the hands of homeowners, but ultimately the responsibility is theirs to read, understand and follow the label requirements.”

Available to download on MDA’s Web site at, the guide recommends that homeowners consider the following factors before moving forward with an insecticide treatment: Also on the right side of the website, there are links to an EAB treatment guide, FAQ’s and how to determine if I have EAB.

Identify if EAB is near: Treatments are only advised for trees within about 15 miles of known infestations.

Consider removing and replacing small and struggling ash tree: The cost of replacing these trees may be less than the cost of repeated treatments over the years.

Check the calendar: Treatments are most effective from mid-April through June.

Have a professional treat large ash trees: Do-it-yourself products are generally less effective on trees larger than 48 inches in circumference or 15 inches in diameter.

Contact a certified arborist or city forester before treating your trees: Some communities have special restrictions or requirements 

Print Friendly

LinkedIn and CAI – The link to the top professionals in the CAI Community

What is LinkedIn and why is it so important to property managers & HOA’s? First of all, it’s the best way to post your questions and have them answered by your peers. Second, there are members of groups like CAI and CAI Minnesota that you can join for free and get timely articles and discussions on topics you care the most about.

LinkedIn is not a passing fad, it’s here to stay and it’s your free tool for important information.

The average LinkedIN user is a college educated 43 year old making $107,000 per year. Where else can you connect to this level of professionals in your industry?  There were 17 million visitors in February. Who is visiting? Your customers,  your employers, your employees, your vendors, your fellow homeowners and your peers.

This isn’t your “facebook for adults”, and this isn’t a short “tweet”. This is a free, powerful tool to manage your professional life and career, even if you aren’t looking for a new one.

Recently, Accenture’s head of global recruiting , John Campagnino, announced that he is hiring for 50,000 positions. 40% of those he expects to get through social media, particularly LinkedIn, so if you’re not using social media for your benefit, you’re missing out.

You Google other people, don’t you think they Google you? Of course they do. LinkedIn organizes your life’s work and interests, so if people search for you, it’s all presented in a clear, concise manner.

Here’s an example of LinkedIn’s value:

Nishar was trying to decide whether his daughter, who was 12 at the time, should spend her summer at a program offered by Johns Hopkins University. He posted the question to his status update on both Facebook and LinkedIn. While he received more comments on Facebook, they were casual and congratulatory. Only four of his LinkedIn contacts wrote him, but they offered a rich analysis, describing experiences with the Johns Hopkins program that left them better off academically; they persuaded him to enroll his daughter. “People are in a different context and mindset when they’re in a professional network,” he says.

CAI and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is even more important to members of CAI. The most powerful aspect of LinkedIn is it’s groups. There are 4 groups available as of this writing; Community Associations Institute, CAI Minnesota, CAI – CT, and CIC and Townhome Mastermind Group.

These groups are made of your peers. There are relevant discussions there that can help you with your business or association. You can post your own discussion, or even ask a question. The members of these groups have been very supportive, and calls for help are almost always answered. We’ll tell you how to find these groups a little later.

So, how do you get started?
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, go to, and setup an account. It’s free. There’s no need to use the paid version. It will take maybe a half hour to two hours to enter the information. If you’ve been a professional for awhile, you don’t need to enter in irrelevant information like grade school, or even high school information.

Your typical profile might have your current position and company on top with previous employment underneath, Then you might decide to list your goals. Also on your profile, you can have LinkedIn automatically grab your blog entries, twitter, facebook entries and articles you’ve written. You can also list things like the groups you belong to, your reading list, people you’ve recommended, and people who have recommended you.

After you’ve done the original profile and joined a few groups, you might want to spend 30 minutes every 6 months or so updating your profile and inviting others to join your network. I encourage you to join the groups I mentioned earlier. Post a thought, or pose a question and get involved with your peers.

After the original setup, look for the CAI groups listed above and ask to join. Use the searchbar in the upper right and change the search from people to groups. Besides the CAI groups, look for other interests that are not based in business, like bird watchers, executive weightlifters, speakers and panelists, gardeners, whatever. For every interest you have, there are probably already 5 groups or more to possibly join. If you’re really passionate about an issue, it’s very easy to start your own group, like I did with CIC and Townhome Mastermind.

So get LinkedIn, join a few groups, and share this article with friends and famly. I hope your life can be enriched a little like mine has.

Steve Hoogenakker, Concierge Landscape Environments

LinkedIn and CAI

LinkedIn and CAI, a valuable tool that's easy to use

Print Friendly

You know, there’s a movie out, now on DVD called 21. It’s a story about some students from MIT who figured out a way to count cards in blackjack and took casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City for around $5,000,000. 

At about the same time this “crew” was working casinos, I learned to count cards. There was a man named Uston who developed this theory in the 70′s. Not just any count but an even more sophisticated count than what the crew used at MIT. To give you an idea, the count went like this. Any 2′s and 8′s were given a value of +1. 3′s, 4′s, 6′s and 7′s were given a value of +2. 5′s were given a value of +3. 9′s were a minus 1 and 10′s and face cards were a minus 3. At the end of each hand, you would then divide your total by the number of half decks remaining. What about the aces? Well, you would keep a separate count of aces by placing your feet in different directions on the bar at the table! HUH??
OK, , Mark and I loved to play blackjack. I found that counting cards was one of the most relaxing things I could do. I estimated that I counted in excess of 3,000 cards in a 5 hour session. Who’s got time to think about problems when you’re doing that. 
I told Mark about this idea of the BP (card counter) and the Gorilla Player (Mark). The card counter(s) would work on tables playing 10-25 dollars per hand. When the count would be in the players favor, I would use a hand or a hat signal Mark to come over to the table to play. Mark could play on the table as long as the count was in our favor. He wouldn’t have to count cards. We had worked out a signal so he knew when the count went minus again. He’d get up and leave until the cards got good again.
Our best odds were maybe 2-3% per hand and Mark would play 100-500 per hand. With 6 players at the table that’s 65 hands per hour.
So Mark would be playing around $20,000 per hour, and at 2% that’s $400 per hour, or $2,000 for a 5 hour session, which is really a minimum amount of time to work that small advantage. 
If you’re still reading this, here’s the hook to the story. 
Mark had his own case of ADD. I don’t know what it really was, but I knew I was in trouble when he got that little sparkle in the eye. 
See, while I was counting cards, Mark’s only job was to keep the dealer and the pit boss busy so they wouldn’t catch onto me counting. He could drink, make jokes with the other players, make fun of the dealer and just play basic strategy, I would take care of the rest. 
Well, you can’t keep Mark on task for 5 hours, so about 3 hours in, he’d get bored! Oh no. He’d start making jokes about me. He’d start making me lose my place. We always had this running joke about Mpls and St. Paul. You can guess which side Mark was on, so he’d somehow get it out that I was from St. Paul and he was from Mpls. When he reversed our favorites, it allowed him to start slamming St. Paul in all kinds of disgusting ways, then I’d have to defend it. 
He didn’t care anymore about making some money, he had to play around like the kid that he was. I know it’s a long story, but I smiled most of the time I wrote this. 
I went back to Vegas for a lot of Rapport functions, but I really haven’t played blackjack at all since Mark stopped going with me, it just never seemed the same. 
I’ll be thinking of Mark A LOT this fall while out in the deer stands. So will a lot of other people.
Steve Hoogenakker
Print Friendly