How to shovel your driveway

I know it sounds strange, but I see a lot of people in my neighborhood who put way to much effort into shoveling their driveway (this doesn’t count those who have snow blowers, which I think is a cop-out for those who are young and fit enought to shovel). These shovelers spend way too much time picking up and carrying snow to the side of the driveway. Or they try to heave it all from the center of the driveway. Or they get a shoveful, bend over and pick it up and then carry it over to the side to be dumped. All of these methods, undoubtedly lead to sore or injured backs.

So, you may ask, what makes you such a self-proclaimed expert in shoveling? First, I live north of Syracuse. We get a lot of snow. And I mean a lot. The record for the city is 192″. Three or so years ago we had 191 inches and some change (didn’t beat the record, though) and I shoveled pretty much ever last inch of that in my two car wide, four car deep driveway. Second, I am a computer geek. I am paid to think about how to do things efficiently, and I apply it to many things in my life. Third, I relish shoveling. I think it is great exercise, when done right.

The first thing people do wrong is they use a straight handle shovel. These are a recipe for disaster. Get yourself a bent handle snow shovel. This prevents you from having to bend down to pick up the snow.

The second big mistake is they try to throw the snow from wherever they are. So, if they have a full shovel and they are in the middle of the driveway, they throw the snow to the side.

So, here is my algorithm:

  1. Bisect the driveway lengthwise by pushing the snow straight ahead of you down to the end of the driveway. This should leave a single stripe down the middle of your driveway
  2. Clear out any plow droppings at the end of the driveway
  3. Working your way back up one side of the bisected driveway, take your shovel in one hand, and push the snow to the side of the driveway as far as you can.
  4. Take a step up the driveway, and repeat the last step
  5. Repeat the previous two steps until you get to the top of the driveway
  6. Now, go back down the same side of the driveway that you just came up. Scoop one shovelful of snow off into your pile. If you don’t have too much snow, you can do this in a nice, low to the ground, efficient scoop which doesn’t require you to bend over at all. If you have a large snow bank, you may have to lift it up higher. Make sure you bend at the knees.
  7. Take a step or two back down the driveway and repeat the last step, scooping the snow onto the grass
  8. When you get to the bottom, depending on how much snow you have, you may need to turn around and go back up. Take a break at the top and bottom of the driveway if you need it
  9. Repeat this for the other side of the driveway.

With this method, you can have a driveway of my size clear of anywhere from 1″ to 6″ in about 15 minutes if you work methodically and are in decent shape. If you have a real heavy snowfall or a real wet snowfall, you will need to take more time. Also, with heavy snowfalls, you may need to also bisect the bisection, so as to create a “snow break”, which will make it easier to push the snow to the side.

Happy Shoveling!