Exterior Driveways & Walkways

8 Clever Hacks for How to Shovel Snow

Dig the big shovel out of the garage and rev up the snow blower, because snow is on the way. These tricks and hacks for how to shovel snow will help you conquer the white stuff.
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Make Snow Removal Easier


Many of us love the look of the white stuff blanketing our yards and homes, but we don’t know anyone who looks forward to shoveling their walkways and driveway after a big snow. Shoveling is hard work that, if not done properly, can lead to injury. Follow this advice to clear the snow quickly and safely.

Remove snow while it's falling.


Expecting snow flurries this weekend? Don’t wait until the snow has all fallen before you break out the snow shovel, or you will make your work harder and invite injury. For faster and safer removal, shovel snow as it lands on the driveway, as often as once every hour during heavy snowfall.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Snow Shovels We Tested This Year

Use products that are appropriate for your hard surfaces.


When choosing the right snow removal tools and ice melts for the job, your driveway’s material matters. On concrete, use only calcium chloride—using rock salt on concrete can make surfaces that are already cracked or chipped even worse. On bricks and pavers, use plastic shovels because metal blades can cause damage. When clearing snow from asphalt driveways, remember to keep shovel and snow blower blades at least a half inch off the ground to avoid chipping the driveway’s surface. 

If you’re using powered snow removal tools, pay attention to how much power your gear is capable of: Lawn and garden tool manufacturer Troy-Bilt says that single-stage snow throwers can handle up to 9 inches of snow, while two-stage snow throwers are designed for deeper and heavier snowfall.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Melt Ice Without Salt or Ice Melt

Hold the shovel close to your body.


Snow shoveling is all-too-common cause of winter injury, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many injuries occur simply because the shoveler failed practice proper form while shoveling. To prevent injury, keep your shovel close to your body. This will help keep you from overreaching, which causes undue strain to your arms, shoulders, and back.  

RELATED: 5 Ways Shoveling Snow Can Be Detrimental to Your Health

Make snowballs.

YouTube via Joshua Jordan

If you think snow removal is boring, you’ve probably never tried this vlogger’s life hack. Instead of shoveling away all that white stuff, you (or your kids) can roll it into giant snowballs—and off your property. If you’re considering this method of snow removal, know that not every snowfall lends itself to this technique. To get the ball rolling, you’ll need a dense, wet, sticky snow. If your snow is dry and powdery, stick to using your snow shovel. 

RELATED: The 26 Best Ways You Can Prepare for a Frigid Winter

Keep snow from sticking.


If you’ve ever struggled to dislodge a heap of sticky snow from the end of your shovel, you need to remember this helpful hint. Here’s how to keep snow from sticking to a shovel: Apply a generous coat of nonstick cooking spray to the front and back of your shovel blade. The lubricant will let snow slide right off the blade, making your job easier in the process. (Likewise, to keep snow from sticking to your snowblower, check out our researched guide to the best nonstick sprays for snow blowers.)

RELATED: 15 Ways Winter Weather Damages Your Home

Clean your car's hood first.


Before you pull the snow shovel and snowblower out of the garage, deal with the snow that has piled on your car’s roof, hood, and windows. Wipe or scrape it off your vehicle, then start shoveling. Otherwise you’ll only make a mess of a freshly cleared driveway when you go to warm up your car.

RELATED: 16 Winter Emergency Supplies You Should Always Keep in Your Car

Stick to a strategy.


When shoveling snow, many homeowners start at the top of the driveway and work their way down. The problem with this technique is that the closer you get to the base of your driveway, the heavier your shovel will become—and heavy shovels lead to an increased risk of injury. For a lighter load, shovel from the center of your driveway and work your way out. By moving less snow at a time, you’re less prone to injury and exhaustion.

RELATED: How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost?

Tie on a tarp.


Looking for a way to remove snow without a shovel? One of the quickest ways to clean snow off outdoor surfaces your car is to cover said surface with a poly tarp. (It’s fine to use the kind of general-use, heavy-duty tarp you’d use for fall cleanup but if you really mean business, get a heavy snow removal tarp with handles.) 

When the storm is over, simply pull the tarp off the surface and deposit the snow into your yard. This technique works for cars, driveways, and even on decks. (If more than a few inches of snow falls, beware that the tarp might be too heavy to move.)