Best Landscape Pavers for Colder Climates in Michigan

One of the best ways to spruce up your outdoor appeal is to have pavers installed. Whether you’re talking about a backyard patio, a front walkway or even a driveway, pavers bring unparalleled beauty, intricacy and intrigue to your home.

When you’re planning a paver project, you’re most likely focused on choosing products that look well and will stand the test of time. A major factor in your decision should also be how well the pavers you choose hold up in the colder climates in Michigan.

Many of our clients ask us, what happens to masonry during the winter? The answer is that it depends on what the product is and what it’s used for.

Below, we discuss this more in depth and how important it is of selecting appropriate pavers for the harsh winter conditions in Michigan.

Types of Pavers Suitable for Colder Climates

A top paver choice for colder climates is permeable pavers. This type of paving allows for water to seep through the pavers and through into gravel layers and soil below. In this way, ice isn’t able to form on the surface.

Unique products are used in permeable pavers, which are laid in grids or other patters and filled in with grass or gravel. The products are very durable to withstand heavy traffic — and maintaining their permeability throughout.

The product is also eco-friendly and can enhance your overall landscape look and feel.

Advantages of Permeable Pavers in Snow Removal

Permeable pavers are designed to control stormwater in all forms. This means that snow melt and water eventually make their way through the pavers’ gaps so they can seep into the ground.

In other words, the design and construction of the pavers themselves serve as a form of snow melt. How the product is constructed also helps to delay a frost layer from being formed, which means you don’t have to use as much salt to prevent ice from forming.

In addition, as large amounts of snow melts, you won’t have huge puddles of dirty water pooling on the surface. The permeability of the product allows the water to drain right through.

Snow Removal Efficiency

Not all pavers are made the same, of course, and each has unique advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to snow removal, here’s a breakdown of the different types of pavers and how each performs …

  • Concrete Pavers: These pavers have a smooth surface, which allows for snow to be removed quite easily. If you opt for darker pavers, they can also help the snow melt faster. In addition, you can even install systems that melt the snow and ice with these pavers.
  • Stamped Concrete: This option often has uneven textures and patterns, which could make both shoveling and plowing difficult.
  • Clay Paver: Clay pavers have a rough surface, which creates challenges when plowing or shoveling.
  • Cobble Stone: Just like clay pavers, the rough surface of cobble stone makes it difficult to plow and shovel.
  • Natural Stone or Brick Pavers: These materials might have smooth surfaces, but the gaps in between each might make it difficult to shovel.

De-icing and Maintenance

If you have a paver driveway, walkway or entrance, it’s important to remove snow and ice efficiently and effectively so people can traverse them safely. 

There are many de-icing products available that can help you in this regard, but not all are recommended for pavers. It’s best to avoid any product that is magnesium-based as it can cause significant damage to the pavers’ surface. 

Instead, use a product that is made of sodium chloride. This product is generally referred to as rock salt, and works great on pavers without damaging them. It can cause damage to plants, metal and grass, though, so be careful when spreading it.

No matter what de-icing product you use, it’s important to not overdo it. Only use what you need, and be careful when you’re putting it down.

Another big question is whether a metal snow shovel is harmful to my driveway when clearing snow. The answer is, yes. 

The metal blades can cause damage to the pavers’ surface, while also leaving metal fragments behind that can create streaks or rust stains. That’s why it’s always best to use a plastic shovel to remove snow and ice, and to put a plastic blade cover on plows or snow blowers if their blades are metal.

Innovative Solutions for Winter Paver Maintenance

Today, there are many innovative solutions for winter paver maintenance. 

One option is a snow melting system. Much like a heated floor in your home, heating elements are embedded into the outdoor surface to remove snow and ice. And if they’re run after the snow has melted, they also help to evaporate the water that’s left behind. 

These systems can be installed for any type of outdoor surface, including accessibility ramps, walkways, patios, driveways and stairs.

Another unique choice would be artificial grass. These systems can be installed instead of traditional pavers. Not only do they give a unique look to your property, they are relatively maintenance free.

When it snows or it’s icy, artificial grass excels, as it is porous, just like permeable pavers are. This helps prevent the accumulation of ice and water on top. And to help melt snow, heating systems can be installed as well.

Pros and Cons of Various Paver Options

Each type of paver has its pros and cons in colder climates and snowy environments. Here’s a description of some of the main types …

  • Slate: This hard rock can come in thin sheets and various colors. While it’s used in roofing a lot, it can also be used as a paver to walk on. It’s weatherproof and durable and isn’t porous. This means it’s resistant to the cycle of freezing and thawing, though it could be slippery.
  • Travertine: This limestone variety is very porous, but it can work in colder and wetter climates if it’s sealed properly. It does require some ongoing maintenance.
  • Porcelain: This type of ceramic tile is extremely hard and waterproof. You’ll have many different color choices, and it won’t fade. Porcelain can be extremely slippery, but textured porcelain could help reduce slippery conditions.
  • Brick Pavers: Brick is great in cold weather. It’s tough and hard, and very good for any type of weather, meaning it will last for ages. It can be challenging to plow or shovel, though.
  • Permeable Pavers: Permeable pavers have obvious benefits when it comes to wet and colder climates. They are usually more expensive than other types of pavers, though, and need special equipment and materials to install. They also can clog and require a lot of ongoing maintenance. In addition, some permeable pavers won’t be able to withstand the stress or weight that vehicles can cause.

Planning and Consideration

As with anything, it’s important to consider all aspects of a product before getting a permeable driveway, or choosing which material to use.

While permeable pavers provide some great benefits in colder climates such as Michigan, there are drawback as well. We mentioned some of those above — the high cost and difficulty of installation, the fact that they require ongoing maintenance and can clog, and the fact that they might not be handle the weight of too many vehicles.

This is something you should definitely take into consideration before opting for permeable pavers in your new driveway.

That being said, they are still a solid choice overall. Some of the other materials above can also be good, especially if installed with a snow and ice-melting system.


Homeowners have so many choices for landscape pavers, though not all are optimal in cold climates such as Michigan. Permeable pavers are among some of the best, as are some natural stone products.

Keep in mind that no matter what paver you choose, there is going to be some maintenance required to ensure the long-term durability of the product. By ensuring that your pavers are sealed (if need be) and either installing an ice melt system or using the appropriate ice melt product, you can make removing snow and ice during the winter months as easy as possible.

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