In the thick of a storm, when the snow is really piling up, is not the time to say, "Oh, I wish I would've...." That's why one of the most important facets of snow removal is actually taking steps to prepare for the snow removal before you have to get out there and brave the elements. With a little bit of knowledge and the right tools, you can set yourself up for efficient snow removal in just about any storm.
Preparing for the Storm
More often than not, you should have some sort of notice that a big storm is on the way. In many cases, you'll have a couple of days warning. If heavy snow is on the way, you should put some salt and/or deicers on your sidewalk, walkways, and driveway prior to the snow's arrival. The chemicals in both the salt and deicer will make the snow removal a less arduous task and reduce the amount of ice that accumulates under the snow.
Pro Tip: If you find yourself running low on salt or deicer, kitty litter will work in a pinch.
Once the salt and deicer is down, park as many vehicles as possible in the driveway. This way, the snow will accumulate on the vehicles and not on the driveway. It is much easier to remove the snow from vehicles than it is to remove the snow from the driveway. Try to get all of the vehicles in a single file line if you can.
Pro Tip: If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, park that one closest to the street. The morning after a storm, roads could still be a mess and the four-wheel drive will be the vehicle best-equipped to handle those conditions.
Using a snow blower is far and away a better option than shoveling. Sure, they cost a bit more than even the best shovel, but consider it an investment that pays dividends in time saved and fewer trips to the chiropractor. If you haven't used a snow blower before, you need to know that the right speed is absolutely critical. If you go too fast, snow spills out of the side and you wind up having to take more passes than necessary. If you go too slow, you don't get enough force to achieve the ideal arc coming from the discharge chute. When you find the perfect speed for conditions, you can take fewer passes and ensure that the snow is thrown plenty far away from the areas you want to keep clear. This is especially important in early-winter storms when you know there is the likelihood that there is still 100 more inches of snow on the way for the season.
Choosing the Right Snow Shovel for You
If a snow blower is not an option for you, then you'll want to be sure that you have the right snow shovel for your needs. Do you plan on shoveling snow or pushing snow? Knowing this makes a difference in determining the right shovel for your situation. A good push shovel can help remove more snow with less effort; it's a little like a small manual plow. If pushing is not an option for you because of tight walkways or driveway features, there are pushing/shoveling hybrid options available. If a shovel is your only option, look for one with an adjustable height so you can set it to match your stature so you aren't bending too low and putting yourself at risk for injury. If you have cracks in your walkways or driveway, or you simply have uneven surfaces, forgo shovels with metal edges as those are more likely to get caught on such surfaces.
Preparing Your Snow Removal Tools
Before you start shoveling, spray your shovel with basic cooking spray. This will prevent even wet snow from caking on your shovel and limiting how much snow you can remove with each shovel full. If you are using a snow blower, spray the discharge chute with cooking spray to prevent clogging there, as well.
Pro Tip: If you drive stakes into the ground along your driveway and walkways, it will serve as a visual cue as to how far you have to shovel. This will prevent you from pushing your shovel right into the landscaping at the edge of your driveway and walkways.
The Act of Shoveling Snow
There seems to be an endless list of different snow shoveling tactics and, really, you should go with whatever is most comfortable for you. That said, a good rule of thumb of is to remove snow throughout the course of the storm before the snow accumulates too much. While it might seems like this would take more time, it doesn't. Several passes at low levels of snow is much faster than one go at heavy snow. Not to mention the latter puts you at a much greater risk for injury (or even heart attack).
If you have a long driveway, use a pusher to push the snow to the outer perimeter of the driveway, then use a shovel to remove those little piles. Know your limits, though, and don't try to scoop to much snow at once. It's not a race. You are not getting a medal.
Pro Tip: Ice can often accumulate under snow, so always watch your step and make sure your boots have good traction.
As with most things in life, the key to success comes from good preparation. This certainly holds true for efficient and effective snow removal. If you implement some of the pre-storm snow removal preparation tips listed above, it should make your winter a little more bearable.
Of course, if you are looking for commercial snow removal services, we'd sure appreciate it if you would give E.P.M. LawnScape and Supply an opportunity. Simply contact us online or call us at (517) 990-0110 today!