Clearing snow may seem as easy as switching on your snowblower and going at it, but there’s actually a bit of a science involved. Here are some tips on the techniques you should be using to ensure you clear your drive safely and efficiently.
Go with the Wind
It may sound obvious, but pointing the chute of your snowblower in the direction the wind is blowing will save you a lot of time and stress. It’ll help keep snow on one side instead of drifting back onto your drive, and speed up the process immensely. But watch out for wind changes when you’re clearing snow, as you may have to adjust as often as mid-turn.
Along with pointing your thrower down to make wind as much a non-factor as possible, you’ll also need to know what to do if you encounter cross winds. There’ll be no avoiding it, so the best way to forge ahead is to start on the upwind side and work downwind.
Pick a Dump Site
Now you have to figure out where the snow will be landing. Make it too close to the road, and you’ll run into problems of not being able to put your garbage cans at the curb, creating bad blind spots when you pull in, and giving city-run snow clearers that much more to push onto your driveway.
But put it too close to your house and you run the risk of the snow melting against the wall and causing interior water damage. And while plants, small trees, shrubs, and flowers generally like a blanket of snow to keep them insulated during the winter, too heavy a layer can crush and kill them.
Instead, aim the snow onto your lawn, your backyard, at the bases of large trees, and even your neighbor’s property (if you’re lucky enough to have a good-natured neighbor). One last tip: don’t aim snow at cars or vehicles, as your snowblower could pick up ice chunks, gravel or debris, possibly damaging whatever it lands on.
Find Your Pattern
Starting in the middle of your drive is the best place for two reasons: you’re throwing the snow the farthest it needs to go, and you’re guaranteed not to throw snow over anything you’ve already cleared.
As far as patterns go, you’re not beholden to any one way, but one stands out above the rest. If you’ve ever watched a Zamboni clear a rink between hockey periods, you’ll know that they start in the middle and make outward concentric laps because the water will always spit out the same way.
The diagram on the left shows the snowblower starting on side of the driveway and making turns. This isn’t very efficient because the thrower will alternate the direction if faces, and because you’ll be making very tight turns the entire time you’re clearing.
But in the diagram on the right, clearing in outward concentric circles helps keep your chute always pointed in the same direction, as well as make turns increasingly easier as they get wider. Whether you go clockwise or counterclockwise depends on the wind, but this method is definitely the best, easiest, and most efficient.