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With the nights drawing in and frost ready to pounce, Matthew Monckton, Sales Director at Enterprise Plants explains how to protect your facility from hazards and your landscape from becoming over-salinated with grit.

My Mum always used to say that an abundant berry crop was a strong sign of a harsh winter ahead. Luckily, today Facilities Managers do not have to try to predict the weather, as services are available to ensure someone else is monitoring the climate and conditions on the ground. Enterprise Plants is a specialist in this field, keeping clients working safely through the winter months by providing an automatic gritting service whether it’s freezing or if snow is forecast.

The key is to offer clients peace of mind, allowing them to focus on other important tasks.

Even though the last winter that a ‘Frost Fair’ was held on the River Thames was in 1814 and climate change has since brought higher average temperatures. The natural variability of the UK weather will continue; in fact there was only one Christmas Day with widespread sleet and snow falling across the UK in the 20 years from 1971. But there were 6 in the 10 years to 2004, with 2008 – 2010 producing some of the worst December weather for over 100 years.

With the probability that these difficult conditions will affect the performance of businesses, Enterprise Plants has a specialist Gritting Team on standby seven days-a-week to combat freezing conditions to keep clients’ properties safe and operational throughout the winter season.

With tailored gritting programmes to suit all requirements, local weather conditions are monitored constantly


during cold spells, to ensure timely gritting and snow clearance is provided for client sites. With operators equipped with the latest gritting machinery and bespoke software, clients are provided with up-to-date management information of the service delivery and are given reassurance that they have safe access to their premises.

Gritting is the best way to clear ice from surfaces and Enterprise Plants uses a high quality, white, de-icing salt to help prevent water from freezing, even down to -10°C. Using white salt avoids the mess of brown salt being trodden into buildings and complies with BS3247.


Grit is actually salt, because it is the most effective treatment to stop water freezing and to make ice melt. Water freezes when temperatures fall to 0°C, so any damp surfaces after heavy rain or melting snow can be treacherous once the temperature falls. Salt it is a hydroscopic material, attracting moisture and drawing heat from the surrounding environment rather than releasing it; in doing so it stops ice forming and can even melt existing ice and snow. Regular gritting makes sure that wastage of salt is minimised and efficiency maximised.

Unfortunately concentrated sodium (Na), a component of salt, can also

damage plant tissue whether it contacts above or below ground parts and high salinity can reduce plant growth and may even cause plant death. The expertise Enterprise Plants has in horticulture provides clients with reassurance that our technicians will take care to avoid excessive salt accumulation on tree and shrub roots, leaves or stems. This avoids challenges and potential additional costs to landscapes in the spring.

The science of predicting the temperatures of roads and other surfaces is complicated, with road surface temperatures being different from nearby grass and concrete areas, due to ‘depth temperature’.

Depth temperature is the result of absorbed heat during the day. Most ground surfaces build up heat during the summer months and the heat reserve dissipates slowly through the winter months. But roads and concrete surfaces also build heat reserves from tyre friction.

During winter the days are shorter and the sun less intense so the heat reserves don’t get a chance to build or to replace dissipated ‘stocks’. The longer nights mean as temperatures fall the reserved depth heat evaporates. When there is cloud cover this acts as a blanket reflecting the evaporating heat back to the ground and surfaces are less likely to drop below freezing. However cloudless nights means the heat dissipates into the air.

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