How to Plow a Driveway Like a Pro
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For many, snowy weather is a welcome change from the typical sun, rain, or clouds — especially when it’s the first snowfall of the year. A snowstorm can mean a day off for the kids to go sledding, or it can transform your commute into a crisp, calming white vista.
But snow — especially on the roads — also has several downsides, like hazardous road conditions, uncomfortable temperatures, and the never-ending shoveling.
Whether you’re going to work or play on a snow day, if your home has a driveway, chances are you’ll have to shovel or plow.
When plowing a driveway, using the right equipment and method helps facilitate all that snow removal.
But what are some excellent tricks for snow plowing driveways? What's the best way to clear snow from a long driveway?
Let's look at some snow plowing tips so that you can plow a driveway like a pro.
The hazards of driving in snow and ice
When you encounter snow and ice on the road, your tires may have less traction, so it’s always important to drive with extra care.
Snow and ice can cause increased stopping distances, slippery acceleration, reduced steering response, and loss of control when navigating corners.
Not only does snow lead to a loss of grip, but visibility can also be minimal during a winter storm.
Snow tires are a great way to ensure safe navigation of snowy roads. They have deep "siping" in their tread that's especially effective for winter conditions.
Paying attention to the appearance of the road surface can also help you estimate traction. An icy sheen can indicate slippery conditions ahead. Usually dry, fresh, fluffy snow offers better traction than slushy, wet snow because its crunchy texture allows tire treads to lock in and push your vehicle forward. If you're unsure of available traction levels, stopping in a safe area and checking the road surface can give you a better idea.
You can use several safety strategies when driving in the snow.
In slippery conditions, smooth inputs on the accelerator, brakes, and steering wheel will maximize the limited traction available, preventing the tires from breaking free and sliding. You can also monitor the warning lights for the ABS, electronic stability control, and traction control system to see if you need to use more subtle inputs or slow down. But always look further up the road than usual for any hazards that might appear in the distance.
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How to plow your driveway
Like anything, developing your own techniques for snow plowing driveways takes time to master. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Plan ahead of time
Whether you're a novice or a seasoned pro, you won’t regret planning ahead, as it will help prepare you for when the big snow hits.
Staking the driveway provides you with a roadmap so that you don't plow over the rest of your property while you're in the thick of it. Begin by positioning a stake by the sides of your driveway's entrance. Then add more stakes along each side every 10-15 feet (more for twists and turns). That way, even if a storm produces significant snowfall, you can see where your driveway begins and ends. And if you plow at night, having reflectors on the stakes can boost visibility.
With pickup trucks being ideal for snow plowing, a staked driveway helps account for their substantial size.
Plow during the storm
The more snow that accumulates, the heavier a load you'll have to plow. And heavy snow might harden, making plowing even more laborious. If more than a few inches of snow are in the forecast, plowing during the storm decreases your workload.
Waking up in the early morning hours during a heavy snowfall may seem like a slog, but it pays off later when you don't have a foot of snow to remove.
Prepare for other plows
Even if you thoroughly plow your own driveway clear, you may later discover a mound of snow waiting at the entry. That's a possibility if your neighborhood has a professional snow removal contractor.
To prevent that from happening, plow away a sizable chunk of snow from the right side of your driveway. That way, when the plowing service passes, the snow has somewhere to go instead of your driveway.
Back dragging short driveways
If your driveway is straight and not too long, back dragging is an excellent method for snow plowing.
To back drag a residential driveway, drive toward your house as far as possible, lower the plow, then back away to the street, pulling snow along the way.
While many modern vehicles feature backup cameras to go with the side mirrors, it's best to rely on your own eyes when back dragging a driveway. Pay particular attention to whether there are animals or people in your path.
After each pass, designate a specific area or areas to make snow piles that won't inconvenience your neighbors or oncoming traffic. Be sure to find a spot with enough room, as you may have to plow several times during a storm. Don't forget, snow melts, so consider where it will drain and take care to avoid mailboxes, electrical boxes, drains, and fire hydrants.
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April 15, 2022
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