By James White
Snow may be beautiful to behold, but it is a pain to deal with. Between potential spills and back injuries, damaging your home or making you late for work, snow removal is both a hazard and a hassle. If you’re weary of labor-intensive shoveling and noisy snow-blowing, you may already be on the lookout for creative alternatives to snow removal. To give your imagination a kick start, here are five clever strategies.
1. Use a Tarp
Those one- or two-inch dustings are among the most miserable snowfalls. They’re just enough to require removal, but not enough to make the job feel worth it. Instead of scraping up more pavement than snow trying to remove the world’s thinnest snowfall, consider laying down cover before snowfall begins. Spread out tarps or other cloths to cover your driveway, your car or even the roofs of small outbuildings. Once the last flake has dropped, simply grab the far edge of your tarp and pull it back over itself, allowing the snow to roll and slide into a neat, out-of-the-way pile in your lawn.
Warning: Do not attempt this method for heavy snowfall. Straining to pull a tarp weighted down with a thick, wet layer of snow could cause injury.
2. Make It a Game
Have some time to spare? How about kids? If you’re not in a rush for work or other responsibilities, consider unleashing the kids on your snow-covered drive. Have a snowman-rolling contest on the driveway. Encourage the children to make a snowball arsenal or snow “bricks” for a fort or igloo out of the snow from the driveway.
If they’re old enough to wield a shovel and follow directions, why not have a snow clearing contest? Divide your drive or walk into equal sections and see who can get their part cleared the fastest. Just be sure to provide clear safety instructions first to avoid injury.
3. Rake Your Roof
Those with a three-story home may not benefit from this tip, but for those with an easily accessible roof, this tip is for you. Say goodbye to balancing precariously on a snow and ice covered roof.
If you can’t wait for sunlight and snow-melting temperatures to clear your roof, try a roof rake. These long-handled contraptions help give snow a push in the right direction, encouraging sheets to slide right off your roof, no acrobatics required. You can purchase this specialty equipment or dust off your DIY skills to make your own custom tool.
4. Create a Custom Contraption
Those with the correct skillset may find custom tools and gadgets are the way to go. A little ingenuity and time in the workshop is all you need to create a personalized contraption that meets your snow-clearing needs.
Make the tool that fits your property, your local snowfall and your physical needs. Perhaps that means rigging a snow plow or attachment to a tractor or four-wheeler. You could integrate wheels and a frame to help push snow or gain even better leverage for lifting spades of snow. Or, if you have the skills and vision, why not skip the assistance tools and go straight to building your own snow-removal robot?
5. Heat It Up
Robotics and radiant heat round out the expensive end of our list. They might not be the solution for everyone, but for those who can afford it, they provide a safe, labor-free alternative. For those with gutters threatened by giant icicles, consider heated gutter products. Instead of waiting until icicles form and breaking them off with a broom or shovel, you can simply heat your gutters to prevent or loosen icicles.
There are a variety of heating options available for driveways as well. For those looking to replace a drive, consider adding radiant heat during installation. If you’re not in the mood for demo, try laying down heated mats before a snowfall instead. These products not only help with snow removal, but can eliminate winter’s invisible icy dangers as well.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of solutions. Innovative homeowners create new techniques and gadgets every winter. Bottom line: Don’t resign yourself to flimsy shovels or gas-guzzling blowers. With a little research or a little imagination, you can discover a clever technique that’s right for you.