Dealing with a steep, slippery, gravel driveway in winter (update)

The weather has turned mild here in Michigan, but winter is far from over.  On that note – probably the single most viewed post I’ve written on this quiet little blog of mine is last year’s How to fix a slippery driveway hill without damaging the environment.  Multiple people per day ask Google how to deal with a steep, slippery driveway and end up on my humble outpost of a blog. Since I feel their pain, having had to get my minivan winched out of the drop-off beside our driveway not once but TWICE (with the second time involving some rather unkind verbal exchanges between myself and my incredulous husband while standing on the edge of the embankment up to our knees is snow, but let’s not talk about that now), I am reposting the link above to the original post along with a few added notes below.

We use industrial absorbent diatomaceous earth to keep our driveway passable in winter. Diatomaceous earth is made entirely of fossilized algae, so it is not harmful to the environment or your landscaping.


Our steep, curving gravel driveway, sprinkled with industrial absorbent diatomaceous earth and pictured here with a ferocious Shiba Inu.

Almost every major auto parts store carries diatomaceous earth as an oil absorbent.  Note that this is NOT food-grade diatomaceous earth powder that is sometimes added to grains to keep pests from destroying them while stored, like this stuff:

This will NOT work on your driveway

Rather, it has a course texture, almost like cat litter, but it is NOT clay-like when it gets wet:

It does not become slippery or caked-up.  It stays granular so that your tires can grip it.  Here is some on my driveway a couple of weeks ago:


At $5-10 per bag, it’s a very cheap way of dealing with a steep, icy, gravel driveway.  It sticks around pretty well, so if you spread some on your driveway, you shouldn’t need to add more unless you get a bunch of additional snow that covers it up.

I hope this advice is helpful to someone out there and saves you both the tow-truck fee for a winching-out and the marital strife that may occur when your husband makes a flippant remark about your driving skills while your minivan dangles over the edge of a drop off. 🙂



On gardens and gratitude.




It’s time to do some more garden day-dreaming…I suspect this blog is going to morph into nothing but gardening posts. Next to faith and family, gardening is the thing that fills me with the most joy.

I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was a good way to reuse something we all have a lot of:


I put a plastic grocery bag in each of the bathrooms and asked everyone to drop the empty rolls into the bags. In the spring, I’ll start my seeds in dirt-filled toilet paper rolls and then plant the entire roll in the ground, leaving the top inch above the soil to give the seedlings a leg up on the slugs.

Though it may seem odd to be longing for the garden in February, it certainly beats contemplating the reality of this miserably-cold winter. When I picked up one of my girls on Sunday from a church event at a chapel our church recently bought, she told me the pipes had burst in the building and left it without water! And the temperatures have continued to drop ridiculously low at night, which is why I am unfortunately writing this post from a hotel room instead of from my cozy house in the woods.

When I got home from work this afternoon, just before my husband was getting ready to leave to go somewhere, I decided to hop in the shower. Right away I noticed a curious lack of water pressure (Can you see where this is going?) and called to him about it. He went and investigated and came running back a moment later, telling me to get out of the shower pronto.

A pipe had frozen and burst in the basement wall and water was pouring in through the freshly-painted drywall, soaking the carpeting and seeping toward the furniture. We were in a bit of a panic until Phil figured out how to turn the central water valve off. He had to call three different plumbers before he found anyone who could come out; all the others were booked solid around the clock because so many people have burst pipes!

Phil sent the girls and me off to a hotel and just now called me to tell me that the plumbers fixed the problem and told him they’d been working since 8:00 a.m. and are booked right through the night until tomorrow morning. The disaster clean-up people will be coming in the morning to start pulling up carpet if it isn’t salvageable and ripping out wet drywall, and the insurance adjustor will be over, too. Bah, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. 🙂 But I’m so thankful that we caught it early so it wasn’t worse. I shudder to think how bad it could have been if it had happened in the middle of the night when we were all sleeping. So even with a soggy basement, I am filled with gratitude.

Oh man, does it make me long for spring! But for at least a few more months, I’ll just be daydreaming…

wisteria veggie gardenveggie trellis