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Solar cleared snow on driveway  RSS feed

 
Russell Olson
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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So I have a 1000' foot+ driveway, that includes a sharp curve placed inconveniently on a steep hill.
Needless to say, clearing snow and ice is a challenge.

I observed one thing that got me to thinking though:
A thick 100 year old red oak on the north side of the driveway seems to absorb and reflect enough solar heat even in the middle of winter to clear the driveway to the gravel. It also melts several weeks earlier in the spring. Just a little exposed gravel makes the drive much easier, but the tree is near the top of the hill, and if cars get stuck they usually can't make the cleared area..

Anyone seen or observed a solar "driveway wall". I'm thinking just a stacked wall of oak logs cut maybe 12'' thick and stabilized to 4' high, then painted black on the southern face. Any other ideas to make it more efficient, or other considerations?
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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I am happy that you made that good observation; it is a very useful skill.

I am curious about how the solar wall would fit into your system. They definitely fulfill a useful niche.

Russell Olson wrote:
I observed one thing that got me to thinking though:
A thick 100 year old red oak on the north side of the driveway seems to absorb and reflect enough solar heat even in the middle of winter to clear the driveway to the gravel. It also melts several weeks earlier in the spring. Just a little exposed gravel makes the drive much easier, but the tree is near the top of the hill, and if cars get stuck they usually can't make the cleared area.


My main question/concern is can this be done differently or improved upon?

In correlation, Paul Wheaton invented tefa which has similar concepts as what you would like to do. Except, instead of making a microclimate for food, you want to to make a microclimate for your driveway.

A few ideas: Why not strategically plant more trees? A tree serves more functions than a simple wall, simple being the keyword. You could grow things on/inside the walls. Why not texture the earth some?
 
Brian Knight
Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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Russell, Iam struggling to understand how a tree is effecting your snow melting. Surely this effect has more to do with the direction and slope of the curve or melted area? Is the melted snow right at the tree trunk or a bigger area?
 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Russell Olson : You are describing a common condition here in Northern New York, where we add on an extra seasons to other peoples traditional 4 Seasons -
MUD Season !

I have in front of me at my desk an old ''Woodcut print'' dating back to the late 1800s showing Maple Sap, gathering in a ''Sugar Bush'' on a bright Early Spring Day!

It shows the team of horses pulling the sleigh behind with a large tin tub to hold the Maple Sap that is being collected from the buckets hanging on the maple trees
and carried to the collection tub, and the grooves left in the snow from the runners of the sleigh AND -

It clearly shows little islands of Zero Snow immediately around the base of the maples with the south side clearly represented by the widest part of the snow free
islands !

Hiking through the "High Country'' in the winter time it is very common the see Black Boulders peeping out of dense snow pack, Some times a new crust of snow will
form with lower temperatures and hide the Well of air surrounding one of these Black Boulders and an unwary hikers careless step can "Post hole" or drop that leg
into the deep hole formed earlier from the Thermal gain due to good solar energy transfer in areas above cloud cover !

You can add large Black Boulders on ether side of your drive and increase this solar Gain. That and a little attention to Draining the Boggy places in your driveway
should help your navigating your Drive ! Good Luck ! Big AL
 
Russell Olson
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Thanks for the good thoughts, I'm going to come up with something and post pictures once it goes into effect.
I'm thinking a combo dark logs, living trees staggered would be the best bet, maybe some rock too if I can find some big enough.
Thanks again
 
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