A new, neighborhood-scaled infrastructure designed to better manage snow as it accumulates.

SunPart Shade












Sun, Part Shade

The Snowmelter is a commercial or neighborhood infrastructural element designed to better manage snow as it accumulates.

This design is shaped to hold snow that is collected from local snowplowing and keeps it on the lot until the warm spring weather. This design allows water from the melting snow to infiltrate into the ground instead of draining directly into the city’s sewerage system.

This lot design has a unique palette of functional and beautiful plantings, from a salt tolerant meadow, to a ‘living snow fence’ designed to create a clean street edge and boundary between properties.

Ideal Location: Residential or commercial double lot in full sun or part sun.


The Snowmelter is a high cost lot design, assuming that you hire a contractor to help with the significant amount of earthwork and the culvert permitting and installation. The highest cost item in this design is work we strongly recommend a landscape contractor complete. The planting on the Snowmelter is imperative—however, if you are looking to reduce cost, the living snow fence can be planted with plugs or smaller plants as a way of conserving resources.

Green Infrastructure

This large stormwater feature manages snow harvested from neighborhood streets as well as from adjacent roofs. This lot is a great choice for neighborhoods where residents largely use on-street parking, as well as for those looking to play a role in green infrastructure implementation!

Vegetation and Visibility

This is a medium visibility lot design. The thick hedge is quite dense and, with time, can be groomed for height, creating additional privacy.

Planting Type

Most Interesting Season


The Field Guide recommends hiring a professional to build this project. Please see the Construction Package for a more detailed description of this lot design.

Build Time Estimate

This lot design requires a professional for the completion of several steps. Coordinate with the selected professional to determine projected installation time for their completed work.

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements

Other Build Considerations


The Snowmelter is a landscape that works, and to ensure it continues working well, will require monitoring and maintenance over time. After the spring thaw occurs, remove accumulated sediments and debris from the basin. If channels have formed from any snowmelting processes, corrective regrading and replanting of the Snowmelter should occur in the late spring or the fall. This higher maintenance lot design will also require stewards to weed and water shrubs, plants and the meadow especially in the first two growing seasons while plants are getting established.

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: High
  • Summer: Low
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Low

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools