• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Liv Smith
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Nancy Reading
  • Beau Davidson
  • Heather Sharpe

Everything I've learned about snow removal

 
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
198
4
hugelkultur dog trees woodworking
  • Likes 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Last weekend it snowed 8 feet at my house. The weekend before it snowed 7 feet. This week it's forecasted for another 4 feet or so. Which is to say, snow shoveling has been on my mind as of late. So I thought it might be fun to write down all I've learned about snow shoveling. I'd estimate that I've reduced my effort snow shoveling 100x over the past decade. After each of these storms, my girlfriend and I have spent about 1-2 hours each clearing our driveway by hand. That's less time than my neighbor spent trying to get his snowblower working!

Most of this is fairly particular to my location and context, but I think many people can benefit from some of this. Out here in the Sierras we get huge, wet storms followed by clear days. The city does plow my road, but usually 1-2 days after a storm. For many reasons, I choose not to use a snowblower. They are expensive, loud, nasty smelling machines that break down often and require constant maintenance and babying to keep functioning. I can keep my shovel outside and it works every single time without any preamble at all.

When to clear snow

The most important thing you can learn to reduce your effort in clearing snow is to understand the best times to clear the snow. You have three goals when clearing snow:

1. Gain access to the road
2. Reduce ice (slippery stuff!)
3. Do your future self a favor (leave room for the next storm)

The most important thing you must do is pay attention to the weather. If the snow is coming in warm (30˚F+), you want to remove it as soon as possible. If there's more than a couple inches, you should get out there and clear it. Don't let it pile up! Wet snow is heavy. Don't let it sit overnight! Freezing temperatures will turn wet snow into a hard-packed glacier. If the snow is coming in cold (<20˚F) it will be nice and fluffy. You can leave that snow be until it is going to warm up (30˚F+). It'll stay unconsolidated and easy to move.

When the plow comes by your street, it has the effect of a super warm day followed by a freezing night. That is to say, it turns any snow at all into hard ice chunks almost immediately (avalanche effect). As soon as possible after the plow comes by, clear your berm. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Sometimes this means a groany five minutes of shoveling when you were ready for bed versus two hours the next morning when you need to get to work. If you wait long enough, you will need heavy equipment (skid steer or tractor) to clear the berm.

Keep in mind this temperature effect when choosing how cleanly to scrape your driveway. Packed powder has far more traction than ice. But packed powder + warm temperatures = ice rink. If it's staying cold, I'll leave an inch of snow on the driveway so I can walk comfortably. If it's going to get warm, I scrape it down to the pavement.


How to shovel

The most important shoveling technique to learn is to stop shoveling! You want to be pushing the snow around, not picking it up. Shovels should be used to break snow up and move it short distances. So let's get started with the tools you should have.

The shovel



Go and get yourself a nice metal shovel. A transfer shovel can be used for this, but I much prefer a snow-specific shovel. Mine has metal teeth on the ends, a scoop shape, plastic glides on the bottom, a D-handle, and even folds up! I can fold it up and pack it behind the seat of my R32 (a tiny little 2 door passenger car). Don't even think about a plastic shovel if you get a lot of snow. It will fail you in your moment of most need.

The push bucket



This tool is a miracle of science. I cannot even fathom not owning it anymore. I want to buy more of them. It holds as much snow as twenty shovels full and can push another ten shovels full in front of the bucket. Instead of laboring with your back and biceps, you can stand up straight and use your legs to push the snow on the ground. This will reduce fatigue by leaps and bounds. Would you rather carry a baby down the street, or push them in a stroller?

The scraper



The last tool you'll want is a nice metal scraper. I think this was called a sidewalk scraper. But anything of similar shape will do fine. This is for hacking pure ice and scraping hard packed snow/ice off hard surfaces.

Now that you've got the tools squared away, you need to move the snow. Your goal is to push the snow into the street (where the plow will reach it), down the flow of traffic from your house (so that the plow will push it away from  your house, not back into your driveway!), into a nice smooth ramp (so that you can glide the push-shovel up the ramp). Here's the end product:



You can use any strategy you want to clear the snow. With two people, it's kind of nice for one person to push the snow from the driveway into the street while the other person pushes the snow from the street onto the ramp.

The last thing to keep in mind while shoveling is where the snow for the next storm is going to go. If you can't push the snow into the street where city plows will deal with it, you should really take some time in the summer to plan out where your snow pile is going to be. Hopefully in a sunny place where it'll have more chance to melt and consolidate in the sun.


Aspects of your property

Once you've done the snow shuffle a few dozen times, you'll start to learn that there are some environmental factors that make some driveways easier to clear than others.

The good side of the street

If you happen to live on the sunny side of the street, that means your snow will melt faster! It also means your snow will melt faster :( So while you might be happy in springtime, you might watch your driveway turn into an ice skating rink during freeze/thaw cycles. Still, most of us prefer the sunny side. It'll give your driveway a break in between storm cycles.

The other thing you'll realize is how nice it is to live on the side of the street that slopes down to the right of your driveway as you leave. This means that when you are pushing snow down the street (so the plow doesn't push it right back into your driveway), you'll be pushing it down hill.

And speaking of slopes, probably the most important aspect of a driveway designed for snow removal is that it slopes away from your house. In fact you want everything sloping away from your house. It makes snow removal easier (pushing down hill), but more importantly, it will prevent flooding and the resulting ice-rink caused by flooding. No, your french drain will not  not help you. In the winter, all drains get clogged with snow and ice and do not function. I would never purchase property with an inward sloping driveway. Every single person I've known with one of these has had massive flood damage and lives in misery all winter with their ice-rink driveway.

The mailbox shuffle

My mail carrier drives an old Jeep CJ and can make it through some pretty gnarly conditions. That doesn't mean she can clear a 7ft berm to deliver my mail. She needs a nice arc so she can pull the Jeep up and reach the mailbox out the window. But here's the dilemma: if my mailbox is close enough to the street for her to reach it, it's also close enough to get decimated by the plows.



That's why I've settled on a movable mailbox. AKA a bucket full of dirt with a mailbox shoved inside. I put the mailbox in the center of my driveway. I'm going to clear that out anyway, and that gives my mail carrier the widest arc to be able to drive in past the berm to reach the mailbox.

Markers

Get yourself some snow stakes. I'm sure you know where your driveway is, but trust me — things get more complicated when the snow piles up. I haven't seen my curb in a month. But that's not even the real reason to put up snow stakes. You do it for your plow driver. You know, the poor soul in a giant tractor navigating residential streets at 11pm during a blizzard. They'll thank you for some nice brightly colored markers with reflectors showing where your driveway starts and stops. Most plows have a gate they can drop that temporarily holds back the berm caused by plowing, and the snow stakes also allow them to get closer to your property line since they know where it is. Even if it's "obvious" where your driveway is, put them out and be a good neighbor to that driver. They'll appreciate you trying to help them out.

Now that you've spent all that time, sit back and enjoy your job well done!








And don't forget an old piece of wisdom I learned from one of my old neighbors: why spend money to fix the road when you can buy a truck instead? (There are many ways to solve the same problem, this is just how I do it…)

 
steward
Posts: 12731
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3582
3
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good tips Kyle!!!  

In my area you can't push or snowblow snow out into the road.

If you can't push it into the road, would your push bucket be as useful?  I see them around but didn't understand how to use them.  I guess in my case you could push the snow back onto the yard a fair ways.  Then just keep pushing it in that direction and hope you run out of winter before you can't push it off the driveway anymore.

One thing I did when I lived in a subdivision with a double wide driveway was to let it become a one car driveway at the road.  Then when the plow came along I only had to remove half as much snow.  

At another house with a sidewalk to clear, I'd pile the snow on the parking strip (between sidewalk and road).  Then when the plow came along my pile would block some of the snow so I didn't have to clear as much from the sidewalk.
 
Kyle Neath
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
198
4
hugelkultur dog trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yikes, I couldn't imagine not being able to get the snow into the road and out of the property! But to answer your question, the push-shovel does work great even if you're just piling snow up on your property. I actually have another big ramp of snow just to the left of the top of my driveway. Sometimes there's so much snow I feel bad pushing more into the street (you always wanna keep the road at least one emergency vehicle lane wide). That makes for a slight uphill path, but it still beats flinging snow around with my arms. You just kind of have to change your mindset about snow removal... building little walking/sliding paths to the snow storage area of your choice.
 
gardener
Posts: 1005
522
4
hugelkultur monies foraging trees composting toilet cooking bike solar wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As noted each persons situation can result in different strategies.  I'll toss in some ideas for those in a rural setting where there is a long, unpaved driveway.

For years I had a huge, beautiful oak tree at the end of my driveway.  Then the road crew came along to dig a drainage ditch and took out a big chunk of the trees roots.  It became a poor, half dead, struggling thing, always in danger of dropping large limbs.  One spring in a big storm it finally fell.  That was a sad day, but it was pretty cool how a whole bunch of my neighbors came along and helped me cut it up for firewood.  :)  

The next winter I had something of a revelation regarding a great way to conserve energy with my snow shoveling.  In the warmer months I tend to park my car maybe 100 feet up the driveway, well away from the road.  However, it's just parked in the yard, not in a garage or anything.  In the winter I'd shovel a huge amount of snow for my drive and a turn around section so I didn't have to back out a long drive.  Without the half dead tree looming over the end of the driveway though I realized one day that it was completely stupid and wasteful of my personal time/energy to shovel this long, car wide section.  Instead I started backing my car into the driveway from the start, but only going back about a car length and just parking there.  There was absolutely no reason I had to drive/shovel my way back to the normal spot.  I stay a car length back from the road so the frag from the county snow plows isn't pummeling my car.  So now I just have a short section to shovel to the width of the car and the rest is simply a single shovel wide foot path up to my door.

I have to agree with Kyle that it's best to try and push the snow as much as possible rather than lifting it.  If you are dealing with irregular surfaces like a dirt/gravel drive/yard I find it can be handy to be a bit sloppy initially, leaving some snow to get packed down into a smoother surface.  After this base is made I find it tends to be easier to push my metal shovel along it without the shovel getting caught and hung up on sticks, dirt bumps, grass, etc.
 
steward
Posts: 6489
Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
1922
8
hugelkultur purity forest garden books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kyle Neath wrote:The shovel



Go and get yourself a nice metal shovel. A transfer shovel can be used for this, but I much prefer a snow-specific shovel. Mine has metal teeth on the ends, a scoop shape, plastic glides on the bottom, a D-handle, and even folds up! I can fold it up and pack it behind the seat of my R32 (a tiny little 2 door passenger car). Don't even think about a plastic shovel if you get a lot of snow. It will fail you in your moment of most need.


I covet thine shovel.

I think this is it at Amazon:  DMOS Original Alpha Shovel, though there are wider ones there, too.

We've had so many snow shovels just not stand up to the helpers here. We bought two new metal (far cheaper than yours) shovels and on the first day, one was bent. Then, I used the second shovel without bending it for two years...until the first day this year that I had new helpers. Now both our metal snow shovels are bent. When they are bent, they suck.

Kyle Neath wrote:The push bucket



This tool is a miracle of science. I cannot even fathom not owning it anymore. I want to buy more of them. It holds as much snow as twenty shovels full and can push another ten shovels full in front of the bucket. Instead of laboring with your back and biceps, you can stand up straight and use your legs to push the snow on the ground. This will reduce fatigue by leaps and bounds. Would you rather carry a baby down the street, or push them in a stroller?


The closest I could fine on Amazon was this Kaufman's "Original Snow Scoop" which somehow doesn't look nearly as good as yours.



The next best option on Amazon any way, seemed to be The Snowcaster



Which somehow had far better reviews that a lot of sturdier looking walk-behind snow plow like contraptions.

Kyle Neath wrote:The scraper



The last tool you'll want is a nice metal scraper. I think this was called a sidewalk scraper. But anything of similar shape will do fine. This is for hacking pure ice and scraping hard packed snow/ice off hard surfaces.


That Razorback scraper looks far better (and wider!) than the spud (for taking bark off trees) I've commandeered for ice scraping. Somehow that keeps disappearing down to other locations, too....

 
Mike Haasl
steward
Posts: 12731
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3582
3
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yesterday I saw someone using the push bucket!!!  They were on their roof and using that to slide chunks of snow downward and off the roof.  It made perfect sense to me for that job.
 
Mike Haasl
steward
Posts: 12731
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3582
3
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After looking all summer for a metal snow scoop at garage sales and resale shops, I finally just bought a new one.  It's made a little ways from here in the UP.  I haven't used it on the roof yet (its primary purpose) but I'm trying to maintain trails around the homestead with it.  It's great for pushing and collecting a pile of snow.  The issue is where to put the snow.  Or more accurately, how to get the scoop out of the track you're making and be able to dump it off to the side.

If you have a narrow driveway and you need to cart the snow 40' to your snow pile, get one of these.  In my case I have to plan ahead and scoop out a "run away truck ramp" that climbs out of the path and onto the adjoining snow.  Then I can grab a scoop from the path, back up and slide it up the ramp and give it a twitch to shoot the load off onto the pile.  With 5" of fresh snow I can clear about a 25 foot distance with three scoops.

This one has a scraper blade on the front that is riveted on.  If using it on cement or asphalt it seems like the rivets would scrape and wear down.  So I'm just using it on my paths in the lawn for now.  When doing the roof I'll want to leave a skim of snow up there to keep the rivets from digging into the shingles.

Here's the one I got from Kaufman Custom metal fabrication:
 
pollinator
Posts: 275
Location: Rocky Mountains, USA
134
homeschooling forest garden building writing woodworking homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
True story on the mailbox.

Ours is a metal post sunk into concrete cast into an old tire.

Once the summer weeds grow up around it, nobody knows the difference.  In the winter, however, it really saves my bacon.

Another benefit is when (not, if) somebody slides off the road each winter and hits it, it falls over rather than breaking off.  Plus, if damage to the box itself is too bad to simply pop out by hand, I can haul the whole thing inside and work on it in comfort.
 
gardener
Posts: 1609
Location: Westbridge, BC, Canada
445
building solar woodworking rocket stoves wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another tidbit I learned (if it already hasn't been mentioned) is that when the snow conditions get to the point where it sticks to the shovel / plow / tractor bucket (or whatever your using), to put a light coat of WD-40 on them. The snow just slides off like a non-stick fry pan and makes it a lot less tiring too.  
 
pioneer
Posts: 50
Location: Vermont
4
home care books building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Everything I've leaned about snow - I'm moving in about 5 years!
 
pollinator
Posts: 230
Location: zone 5-5
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wonder if PAM non stick pan coating might be better to use than WD40
I don't shovel any more than I have to.
I let it pile up and drive on top of it.
If it's powdery and cold I'll throw some water on it and let it freeze.

In the spring when everything is sloppy
where I park on the grass is a sheet of ice.
Until the frost goes out and the water sinks into the ground and things start to dry up and get solid.

 When I have to clear heavy snow like in the snow plow berm
I like my light weight aluminum "coal" shovel.
It doesn't grab too much, snow doesn't stick much.

I also have a medium width push shovel with a crooked handle so I can stand up when using it.
 
Gerry Parent
gardener
Posts: 1609
Location: Westbridge, BC, Canada
445
building solar woodworking rocket stoves wood heat greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Craig,   PAM might work too. WD-40 is just what I had around but any oil may do.
 
pollinator
Posts: 823
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
251
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kyle Neath wrote:Yikes, I couldn't imagine not being able to get the snow into the road and out of the property! But to answer your question, the push-shovel does work great even if you're just piling snow up on your property. I actually have another big ramp of snow just to the left of the top of my driveway. Sometimes there's so much snow I feel bad pushing more into the street (you always wanna keep the road at least one emergency vehicle lane wide). That makes for a slight uphill path, but it still beats flinging snow around with my arms. You just kind of have to change your mindset about snow removal... building little walking/sliding paths to the snow storage area of your choice.



Just like Mike, I live in Wisconsin, where it is absolutely forbidden to push your snow on the road: [You can push it across into the opposite ditch though, if you are careful]  The land is very flat around here, so snow plows can go by at a pretty good clip. When, in a near blizzard, snow plow meets snow berm in the middle of the road, it is a sure disaster that will cost you dearly. Mailboxes get impacted regularly but I'm not sure it is legal for us to plant our mailbox in a bucket of sand or I would do it. So we have to clear the mailbox and store the snow somewhere on the property.
We are well past the age of moving this much snow by hand: Hubby uses the skid steer for the driveway, I use the electric Snow Joe to clear a 4 ft. wide path all the way to the chicken coop, and the "Yooper Scooper" for the finishing job. Indeed, it is much easier to push or pull and drag snow than lifting blocks of snow onto snow banks. My scoop looks a lot like yours, minus the teeth. In Central Wisconsin, I'm lucky I don't get nearly the amount that you get or that Mike gets up north [6"is a "major snow storm"] and totally agree with you that taking care of the snow immediately is a lot smarter than waiting for the snow to stop falling. : It is fluffier while it falls! If I'm dressed warm, I can keep scooping right through the snow falling. I get back in, get warmed up. By then I can do my second shift: each time, there is half as much snow to remove than if I were to do it all in one go. It is less discouraging too. I think my scoop is just a tad wider than yours maybe[?] I've used it to push, of course, but also to *pull* that scoopful out of the way. For that, I have to wade through the deeper snow, but the scoop glides effortlessly over the snow this way, I don't get to a point where I have no room left for the next snowstorm.
 
Posts: 87
Location: Northern Ontario
21
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would be interested to see if anybody here has stories and info to share about clearing long laneways/driveways, and maintaining paths and other open areas through winter? What is your philosophy in this? I'm interested in all input, but especially from those who have large amounts of snow that persists for much of the year.



Some ramblings, if permitted:

I expend a lot of energy, physical and fossil, (not to mention mental/emotional energy!) moving snow around. It's a huge task, actually. ~ 12 foot of snow per year, on the ground probably from Nov - Apr, 500m/1,500' driveway, various paths needed to outbuildings and such. Further, if I don't keep areas clear of snow we have increasingly little space to move around.

-For some areas we just walk on the snow and create compacted footpaths - this works well, but the paths are narrow and if you step off of them you are liable to sink deep down into the snow! In the spring/late winter they are not nice to walk on.

-A snowmobile driven on top of fresh now and left to "sinter" can make nice paths, especially if temperatures are not too warm.

-Snow slides off the steel roof and lands on the deck, if you do not get to this snow quickly, it becomes a real chore to remove. It will freeze onto the deck.

-many areas and items essentially disappear until the snow finally melts in the spring... if you leave something out you can consider it gone!

-choose your battles

-time your battles

-learn to watch the weather/read forecasts

-At some point you need to think about drainage in the spring. A big snowbank can be a source or water potentially for months. Best to keep away from foundations/etc if possible

-I look forward to the snow melting so that I can discover what and where the dog has been cacheing all winter

-Be wary of snow build up on top of buildings/structures.The weight of accumulated snow is astonishing... It is easier to clear snow off of a roof than to deal with a collapsed building.

-Currently I have a hefty garden tractor with chains and a front-mounted blower as my main clearing tool. The larger tractor with bucket is occasionally needed to move snowbanks around, or to rescue the stuck smaller tractor... plow on the ATV works great for quickly running down the driveway, but eventually snowbanks can become too large and the plow won't be able to throw snow up and over them, resulting in an increasingly narrow lane.

-My equipment is good, but generally old. It seems that something is always breaking, as long as you're fixing things at the same rate it sort of all evens out...!



I’m always looking for ways to improve and do this more efficiently. I’m not exactly thrilled about the cost, monetary and environmental, of my need to move snow. If I really wanted to cut down on the cost I could probably park our road vehicles by the road, and essentially let the laneway snow in over the winter.



Ultimately I try to embrace the snow as much as possible, there's not much else to do about it. I’ll take a nice cold dumping of snow over freezing rain, that’s for sure! I also find the hard-packed and cleared snow paths and driveway to be aesthetically appealing and kind of a nice surface for walking on, working on, playing on.
 
David Huang
gardener
Posts: 1005
522
4
hugelkultur monies foraging trees composting toilet cooking bike solar wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Rosseau wrote:
I’m always looking for ways to improve and do this more efficiently. I’m not exactly thrilled about the cost, monetary and environmental, of my need to move snow. If I really wanted to cut down on the cost I could probably park our road vehicles by the road, and essentially let the laneway snow in over the winter.



While I don't think I get nearly as much snow as you, this has essentially been my approach.  I park my car down near the end of the drive by the road.  Then I just have to shovel my long narrow paths and about 2 car lengths of my driveway.  Reducing my "needs" has saved me money on equipment/fuel, and time to do the work not to mention my environmental footprint.  Now if I had a garage I was parking my car in that might change things, but since for me it's just a matter of selecting a different place outside to park it made sense.
 
Mike Haasl
steward
Posts: 12731
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
3582
3
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John, for a long driveway I kind of like a snowblower on a garden tractor.  My single stage blower on my 1974 John Deere 110 can blow snow up to 16" deep.  It sucks to do a turning driveway but going straight it's a dream.

I had to clear out a bunch of grassy areas with it for a buddy to drive on and that was a chore.  Any slope and I was getting nervous I'd get stuck trying to back up it (rear wheel drive with a heavy snowblower on the front).  I also dug into the unfrozen ground.  

But it gave me the idea that if I could keep a path clear around the property (to the greenhouse, barn, sugar shack, wood pile, etc) it would be slick.  

Two years ago I just trampled the way but if you step off the side you're screwed (as you say).  Plus we had older visitors and they were really nervous walking the path to visit the sugar shack.

Last winter I shoveled out the paths.  We got a ton of snow so that became a chore.

If I had a SunJoe like Cecile I'd probably just use that and blow the snow away.
 
master gardener
Posts: 6641
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
2916
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David Huang wrote:

Now if I had a garage I was parking my car in that might change things, but since for me it's just a matter of selecting a different place outside to park it made sense.

There's no reason the garage would have to be built near the house. If I had a long drive, I'd be *very* inclined to build it as a separate building close enough to the road as to be practical for winter parking, assuming I was in a snow zone. We don't get a lot, but a friend who has a lovely garage, moves her cars out and up by the road if snow is predicted or else she's trapped until it melts!
 
gardener
Posts: 610
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
222
hugelkultur forest garden foraging tiny house wood heat
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Rosseau wrote:I would be interested to see if anybody here has stories and info to share about clearing long laneways/driveways, and maintaining paths and other open areas through winter? What is your philosophy in this? I'm interested in all input, but especially from those who have large amounts of snow that persists for much of the year.



We are on a private road that is about 1600 feet long and our home is another 600 feet (of footpath) from the road. Over the years, various neighbours have owned various beat up plow trucks and we've always managed to keep the road passable. Last winter we were all alone at the end of the road. Two neighbours died and their spouses moved away, so we were responsible on our own to keep our road open. Or not. We don't have vehicles any more so we really only needed the road open for company, but as you all know, last winter was a time of isolation. We still kept the road shoveled but did so at a leisurely pace, taking long coffee breaks and naps, sometimes taking days to pick away at the snow. It was actually really enjoyable and peaceful to have no machinery involved and to feel a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance when the job was done.
We have accumulated about a dozen different shovels that each have their unique purpose for different snow types or depths. My favourite is a particular snow pusher that has the magical ability to roll the snow just like rolling up a carpet. Conditions need to be just right, with the snow not too deep and not too wet. When everything is perfect it is almost a joy to clear our paths. We keep about 800 feet of footpaths clear and it is something that our visitors always comment on when they walk in to see us. By spring, the paths resemble hallways through the snow.
We have new neighbours now and they will need the road to be kept clear, so we are looking for a plow vehicle that will be affordable, effective and dependable. As with most things, it is becoming clear that whatever we wind up using will be a big bundle of compromises.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1018
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
351
kids dog home care duck rabbit urban books building writing ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Snow Plow Berms: I find the easiest way to deal with this it to completely avoid it.  I will actually shovel the road a good 50 feet on the side the plow will come from so that the bulk of the snow he is pushing is deposited BEFORE it hits MY driveway.  Many think I am nuts, but I would much rather use a push shovel, clear and salt the road than deal with sketchy conditions or shoveling a 2-3 foot solid ice berm.  My driveway is UPHILL to the road, so having a safe clear turning path for exiting and entering the driveway is critical, and that is before you factor in the 4 foot deep ditches on either side of the driveway AND the road.

Snow removal:  On the Wet Coast (BC, Canada) our snow is infrequent, but when it comes it is usually huge, wet, soggy flakes...perfect for back breaking work and freezing into ice.  On the rare occasion it is cold enough for nice fluffy snow, I haul out the leaf blower we adopted.  We don't use it for leaves, strictly as an impromptu snow blower (or gutter cleaner) and is terrific for getting snow out of the way, be it on the ground or on low slope/ auxiliary building roofs.

Snow shovel lubricant: Any sort of wax, oil or grease will keep snow from adherring to a shovel.  Just keep in mind what is the most environmentally friendly.

Driveways and Vehicles: I too park at the end of the driveway; but ALWAYS at least a car length or two back and NEVER on the shoulder of the road (no need for someone slip sliding into my vehicle whilst driving like an idiot).  

An old feed bag, tarp, or even cardboard judiciously placed on the windshield of an outdoor parked vehicle makes windshield clearing a breeze.  

Parking facing the morning sun can also help with snow removal on windshields, nothing like a little free solar energy working for you.

Only dig foot wide "tire track" paths when snow is being difficult.  At the very least, these can be mostly cleared and salted/sanded/kitty litter etc. to deal with the rest.

Tricks:  NEVER walk where you intend to shovel, just seems to pack the crap down and turn it into ice; always sweep or shovel the steps BEFORE stepping on them - so store your snow shovels on the porch or indoors so you can easily access and find them.

Remove hazards such as slick metal roof panels (found THAT one out the hard way last winter!!) that are no issue when you can see them, but deadly when you forget where they are.

Put traction strips on outdoor stairs; put grippers or spikes on your boots/shoes.

Put reflective tape everywhere; it is amazing how things disappear in a good dump of snow.  All my tools, corners, pits, and such have been marked for ease and safety.

Lastly, make it a point to watch or listen to local news broadcasts for weather forecasting; or become addicted to a weather app (https://www.ventusky.com/   is my absolute favorite) so that you are prepared to be without for a while if it gets REALLY nasty.

P.S.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the moveable mailbox's; brilliant!!!

 
Posts: 7
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Go get a Wovel (https://www.thegreenhead.com/2006/01/wovel-ultimate-snow-shovel.php).  In 2010 we had 50" of snow in 8 days.  Delightful!  Shovel a while. Come in and eat homemade bread and soup. Go out and shovel a while longer.

With the Wovel your lower back is not affected.  However, when you push the snow up and away your arms and shoulders get a good workout.  How good?  The next morning when I brushed my teeth, I put the toothbrush on the sink and held it down with a hand while I moved my teeth back-and-forth on the brush.
 
Did you miss me? Did you miss this tiny ad?
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/45/pmag
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic