We recently moved from the city to 5 acres of rural property in a cold climate and let’s just say after two winters (this winter being harsh!), we have some snow removal tips to share with those in need!
While our first winter was mild and we only had snow on the ground for about a month, this winter we’re going on two full months of having snow on the ground, we’ve had many feet, and we’ve had sustained low temperatures for weeks on end!
We’re happy to report that snow has been a non-issue for us and we’re loving every minute of it due to both experience and careful planning!
Here’s a fun video of snow removal on our property but be sure to read the full blog post for extra snow removal tips!
Use a Sturdy Truck Plow for Driveway Snow Removal
Our first winter we didn’t have a snow plow or any other means to remove snow, and somehow we lucked out. Our neighbor did plow us out once which was nice, but we would’ve been fine without it!
This winter is a different story. We’ve had deep snow on our long driveway multiple times, and shoveling it by hand is an exhausting workout to say the least.
This year, we’ve had the opportunity to plow out our driveway a total of four times and WOW, it’s made all of the difference! Plowing our entire driveway as well as living area on the flat spot of our land takes no time at all… and it really helps us to stay on top of the snow.
The thing with snow is that it’s really ideal to remove it ASAP on areas you need to keep tidy. Otherwise, temperatures warm up, snow melts turning into a mush mess, and then it can even freeze again turning your property into a skating rink.
We know folks that have let the snow on their driveway get up to three feet deep and then the rains come, making the snow almost impossible to remove with a home plow. Lesson learned… if you have the means (or can find the means) to remove snow right away, do it, and your future self will thank you!
There are many economical plows on the market for home use such as the HomePlow by Meyer which is the one we have access too and seems to be working great so far.
While these may be an investment up front, the idea is that they last for many, many years and can benefit many families (heck, you might even be able to make an extra buck or two by plowing out neighbors!).
Have an Easy-to-Push Snow Scoop
One of the best tools on our property in winter is our snow scoop. Jesse actually grew up in an area where snow could be 10 feet deep in winter, and this was a tool that the locals used!
This snow scoop is ridiculously easy to push when the snow is nice and fluffy and it makes clearing larger areas of snow a breeze.
I think these would be ideal for clearing small driveways, walkways, sidewalks or other small areas you wish to not have a pile up of snow.
Before we had access to a snow plow, we were clearing our long driveway with this but it would take over an hour of repetitive work – a great workout when you’re feeling “fluffy” in winter!
BONUS TIP: If you find snow to be a bit sticky in the scoop, feel free to squirt some WD40 inside of the scoop. It should help the snow slide off more easily.
Have a Quality Snow Shovel or Snow Pusher
Even with a snow plow and a snow scoop, it’s essential to have a shovel that’s good for shoveling snow.
Even though we do our best to put things away before snow arrives, sometimes we have to unbury things such as hoses or pipe! Plows and scoops aren’t good for such tasks because they aren’t very precise.
You could use a shovel like this which works great for pushing dry snow, but if the snow gets too wet or icy as has happened to us already, you may need to use a a sturdy shovel that’s built for dirt!
Again… when shoveling snow, the key is to do it early and do it often so that the snow doesn’t have a chance to build up or melt! Nothing is worse than removing wet, heavy snow!
Here are additional snow shoveling tips if you’re interested.
Keep Plenty of Salt on Hand
Depending on the winter, it can be a great idea to have large buckets of salt on hand.
Even though we keep our driveway and walking paths plowed, sometimes the temperatures warm up, melt the sow, and then it re-freezes in the form of ice.
This makes for a nice ice skating rink on the driveway, but you can imagine that it’s a good way to land flat on your back (yes, it’s happened to us more than once).
Do yourself a favor and keep some salt around when things are extremely precarious! Ideally you would remove the snow before it has the chance to turn into an ice skating rink, but sometimes it’s just not possible.
Plan Ahead on Where to Dump Excess Snow
Another thing that is easy to not think about until it’s too late is where to dump your excess snow that’s been removed. In urban areas this can be more difficult, but we’re lucky to have a decent amount of space on our rural property.
We have a couple of different areas where we dump our snow but both are completely out of the way of vehicle traffic on the property.
These snow piles can grow quite large over the winter so plan wisely!
That said, this past weekend we got 30″ of snow in two days, and we had to quickly put snow wherever it would fit! We ended up pushing heaps of snow in front of our reserve firewood pile (already have plans on where to put the pile next year to avoid this)! Do as we say… not as we do!
Here you can see some of our heaps of snow. Hope we don’t need that firewood this year!
Keep an Ice Scraper In Your Car
If you’re accustomed to living in a cold climate, this is probably a no-brainer for you, but it wasn’t for me my first year living in an area that actually gets weather!
Ice on the windshield is no bueno. Since we live off the grid (we aren’t tied into public utilities) we have solar power, and it’s critical to keep the solar panels clear! Ice scrapers work great on these so that we can remove ice without damaging them, and so that we can continue to get free power from the sun.
Ice scrapers often have two sides: a blade and a brush. The blade is great for ice and the brush is great for powdery snow… our favorite when temps are cold!
Put Stakes Along Driveway
Depending on how much snow you get and how your driveway is laid out on your property, staking the driveway with stakes such as these can be a great idea!
Jesse’s aunt actually surprised us by putting reflectors along our driveway, and they surprisingly come in handy in the snow as we can really see where the edge of the driveway ends!
Remove Snow Quickly & Remove Snow Often
The #1 snow removal tip we could truly offer is to do your snow removal quickly and often. Nothing is worse than having heaps of snow in areas it shouldn’t be when the temperatures warm up.
Also, snow plows and snow scoops work great but not if there are feet upon feet of snow to be removed! It’s best if you’re only plowing a few inches at a time which should be manageable for most climates!
As soon as we get a decent snow, we get to work clearing the driveway, clearing the walking paths, clearing snow off of our outside deck, and clearing snow off of any outdoor stairs.
This really does keep snow manageable so that it doesn’t build up and ice over time! Don’t be lazy…
Use a Heavy Duty Ice Scraper on Solid Ice
Despite our best efforts to keep critical areas snow and ice-free, the best of intentions don’t always end with desirable circumstances.
We’ve had ice build up around our lawn tools as well as in our kitty’s cat hole (how he enters and exits our cabin) so we use something like this to break it up!
This option is really a last resort, but can be a great way to un-stick a frozen shovel from the ground or chip away at small sections of ice as to reduce accidents.
Have Durable Work-Worthy Winter Clothing on Hand
Because snow removal is part of our life in the winter months, we were sure to invest in quality winter clothing. We don’t want to feel restricted by our clothing but instead invest in items that help us do our job better.
Some things we have this winter that helped us to be comfortable while removing snow at all hours of day or night include:
- Bogs, Muck Boots or similar boots: We have these boots that come up fairly high on our calves. They are super insulated are rated for as low as -40 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. We actually gifted these to Jesse’s sister as well who removes snow all day every day for work, and she gives them the thumbs up as well.
- Lined pants: Jesse is cold-blooded, but I get cold easily so I invested in a pair of these these fleece-lined pants… combined with long underwear, I can easily get too toasty when doing snow removal.. a good problem to have.
- Durable jacket: Jesse and I each have durable jackets (me this one and Jesse this one) that keep us warm for our winter chores.
- Wool socks: We each have a few pairs of wool socks with the highest wool percentage we could find! These are my favorite… over 80% wool! This combined with Bogs keep my feet incredibly warm, sometimes too warm.
- Dress in layers: No specific articles to mention here, but in addition to the basics, be sure to dress in layers! Here’s some of Alyssa’s favorite winter clothing. You can always strip down but start with a good amount of layers on so that you don’t dread stepping out into the cold to do winter chores.
Bonus Tip: Remove Snow During the Coldest Times of Days
We can’t stress this enough… work smarter, not harder. Don’t remove snow when it’s warm outside, even if it means you need to do your snow removal at night or early in the morning!
We frequently are outside after dark pushing snow and the surprising thing is we actually enjoy it! It’s great to get some exercise in winter when we’re cooped up inside all day working on our businesses.
Summing it Up
In the end, all tips aside, we keep coming back to the idea of removing snow quickly and often. If you do it as soon as it snows, it shouldn’t pile up on you too quickly, unless you are in a snowpocalypse as we were last weekend!
We hope you find these tips useful and if you have your own, feel free to share! We’re happy to take some of those ideas and add to this page to make it the best resource possible!
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