Winter Awareness: Preparing for Snow Removal

A man shoveling snow outside a house.
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There are few things worse in winter than waking up to a driveway full of snow and not being able to remove it. Not only can this type of situation prevent you from leaving the house, but it can also hurt your budget if you must pay someone to remove it. Luckily, you can void these types of unfortunate circumstances by preparing yourself with the right tools and knowledge before the storm hits.

Pre-storm Prep

In most cases, you should know when a bad winter storm is headed your way. When the weather report expects heavy snow, spread a little salt and deicer on your driveway and sidewalk before it starts snowing. These chemicals will make snow removal easier and help lessen ice accumulation beneath the snow. If you are short on deicer and salt, kitty litter will also do the trick.

Move Your Vehicles

A truck in a driveway covered by snow.

After you've spread salt and deicer, move as many vehicles as possible onto your driveway. The vehicles will block snow from accumulating on the driveway and it's far easier to remove the snow from the top of vehicles than shoveling it off the ground. Line up the cars and trucks in a single line, if possible. It's also a good idea to park a vehicle that has four-wheel drive at the end of the line as getting out of the driveway first will be a challenge.

Removing Snow

A snowblower blowing snow.

The easiest and fastest way to remove snow is with a snowblower. These machines are a lot more expensive than a traditional shovel, but they will save you on time and future back pain. When using a snowblower, finding the right speed is key in effectively removing snow. If you go too fast, then snow will spill out the sides of the blower. If you go too slow, you will not get enough distance from the arc. Getting the perfect speed will maximize the amount of snow you can remove with each pass and ensure that it's flung far away.

The Right Snow Shovel

If a snow blower is not on the table, then you will need to purchase the right snow shovel for your situation. The snow shovel you purchase will depend on whether or not you plan on pushing or shoveling the snow. It's hard to beat a good push shovel, but you may need to buy a traditional shovel if pushing is not an option for certain areas of the driveway or walkway. You can also buy hybrid shovels that work as both pushers and shovelers. When selecting a shovel, get one that has adjustable height as this can save you from bending down too low. If your surfaces are uneven, purchase a shovel without a metal edge as these are less likely to get snagged.

Preparing Your Tools

Before you start shoveling snow, spray the surface of your shovel with cooking spray or oil. This will help prevent the show from sticking onto the shovel. You can also drive long stakes into the perimeter of your driveway and walkway before it starts snowing. This will help you see exactly where you need to shovel without tearing into your landscaping. Of course, you can avoid this step by shoveling multiple times a day and keeping on top of the accumulation.

Shoveling Snow

There are a lot of different tactics when it comes to removing snow. If possible, it's best to remove the snow at different times throughout the day. This will help save on time and the amount of snow you will need to remove all at once. For long driveways, push the snow to the outer perimeter and then use a shovel to remove the piles. Be careful around icy patches, especially when they're concealed underneath a layer of snow. Finally, avoid scooping up too much snow at one time and know your own limits.