Like it or not, winter is just around the corner. Rakes will soon be replaced by shovels, and fertilizer by ice melt. Before you start applying ice melt on your driveway and sidewalks this winter, brush up on these best practices.

For the best results, apply ice melt on your driveway and sidewalks after shoveling. Removing excess snow gives the product more contact with the surface to melt the ice. 5 Below is an easy-to-use ice melt that works in temperatures as cold as -5°F.

Always refer to the product label to determine how much to apply. For 5 Below, the recommended application rate is ¼–½ cup per square yard. A handheld spreader is a good way to apply ice melt because it’s more precise than spreading by hand or shaking from a jug. Be careful to protect vegetation from the product, which can damage plants.

Lastly, don’t use ice melt on a new concrete driveway or sidewalk. To avoid chipping, give the concrete at least a year to cure before applying ice melt. Even gentle options like 5 Below are necessarily corrosive and can damage uncured concrete.

With these pointers in mind, you’ll be prepared for whatever winter throws at us—hopefully, it’s lots of snow!