It’s finally spring in the Northland, and that means mud season is in full swing. With late season snowfalls and incoming rain, there’s a lot of water to contend with both in the woods and around your home. These tips will help you make it through the wettest season without making a mess.
Mud is bound to make an appearance for the eager hiker ready to get out on the trails. Wear durable shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting dirty. Muddy trails are fragile, so seek trails that follow higher ground and avoid the lowlands until summer. If you do encounter wet trails, walk through the mud. It’s tempting to walk around the wet areas or make a new path to avoid them, but this contributes greatly to trail erosion which can be difficult to fix. Take smaller steps to avoid slipping in the muck and consider bringing along a trekking pole for balance. Keep a mud season supply kit in your car that includes a change of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, a couple towels, and a spare bag for the dirty stuff.
The mud around your home is a different matter, and there are a number of things you can do to control where the water goes. This is done through drainage and landscaping. Consider smart gutter placement and downspouts. You can re-grade your lawn so it slopes away from your house. De-thatch and aerate it for better drainage. A French drain (trench) will allow water to flow where you want it, and once it’s installed you’ll never know its there.
Landscaping with hardscape and dirt-free areas near entrances will help keep mud out of your home. Slip-resistant paving stones, concrete, kennel decking, or a patio are all good options. Gravel can also be effective but you will need to continue adding layers as the rocks get sucked down over time. Add rain gardens to depressions and low areas of your lawn to help collect and filter runoff.
If you’re looking for a quick fix for minor or temporary muddy areas around your home, flax straw is useful. It takes a long time to break down and will cause the mud to become brick-like as it dries. Alternatively you can use wood chips, mulch, or other organic matter.
Keeping the interior of your home mud-free doesn’t have to be a struggle. Designate one entrance as the go-to place for mud mitigation. If your home has a mud room, perfect! A covered deck or porch is also effective. Make sure the area is easy to clean – no carpet. Place a large bristled mat outside, and a sturdy, washable rug inside. Teach kids and dogs to stay on the rug to be cleaned. Keep towels and inside shoes or slippers near the door, and consider a boot dryer if members of your household often come home with wet footwear.
Hopefully these ideas will help you stay clean and enjoy the season. Warm, dry summer days are coming soon!