Hints & Tips
It’s that time of year when the morning streets echo with the sound of windscreens being scraped, those tough footballers suddenly start wearing gloves and salt becomes a hot property, not just something to sprinkle on your chips.
Yes. It’s path-clearing season; time to get rid of snow or ice from your path or drive and keep it safe for your guests or clients to walk on.
We understand how important this seemingly simple job is and that, as a householder or businessperson, you want to keep your paths as clear as possible.
So I’d like to offer a few tips for getting it done easily and efficiently.
Always be prepared. Keep a shovel by the back door, fling a small one in the boot of your car, or make sure you have a Snow Blower fuelled up, serviced and ready in your shed. Don’t be caught out. When the snow comes it can come quickly so be ready!
Start as soon as you can. Get it before it gets walked on and compressed. Clearing a fresh fall of snow is a much simpler task than dealing with settled, compacted snow and ice.
Keep warm. Wear layers. Wear thermals. Wear good gloves and inner gloves if necessary. Even if you are only out there for half an hour don’t take the risk! A balaclava can be useful, not least because no-one will recognise you and know it’s you wearing those old leg warmers from your ‘Flashdance’ days. Oh, and footwear is very important.
Your boots (and they should be boots) need to be warm but should also have good grips on the soles, you don’t want to slip over while clearing your own path.
Don’t be tempted to throw hot water at the problem. You may remove some snow, but the water will just freeze and suddenly you have black ice on your path – a serious slip hazard.
Now. What are you going to clear with? You could use your old spade but they tend to be a bit clunky and heavy. Choose a simple Snow Shovel if you have a small path. Make sure you choose one with a good long handle for ergonomic reasons. You don’t want to risk straining your back in the cold. Make sure your snow shovel has a good, large, blade or scoop for maximum clearance. Like this one…
Try to make sure your shovel is not too heavy, but is strong. You can buy shovels with metal edges for breaking ice (like the one in the picture above) and these can be very useful. You can also buy small telescopic shovels for carrying in your vehicle.
If you have a large path or drive, or run a business, you might want to think about a Snow Blower. (See below)
Available in a variety of sizes and capabilities and powered by electricity or petrol, they save effort and can be very effective at clearing even deep falls of snow.
Whatever you use, it is advisable to start in the centre of your path or drive and work outwards. It means you are always standing and working on a cleared surface, which is safer and more effective.
Once you have cleared, you need to try to keep your path ice-free. Think about spreading something that will keep the path clear. Salts and ice melts can be very effective and can be distributed by hand or even with a walk-behind salt spreader. These machines are very handy and will often double as seed, pesticide or fertiliser spreaders in the growing season making them cost effective.
If you can’t get salt or grit, sand or ash can also be effective. They will not melt the snow and ice but will provide a gripping surface you can walk on.
Think about where the snow is going to go. Don’t throw it at your neighbour’s cat or brand new Mercedes, and don’t pile it up so high it becomes another hazard.
Finally, before you stop reading this and get out there, it’s worth having a plan so you know not only what you are going to clear and how you are going to do it, but where the snow is going to end up.
Oh, and always make sure you clean your gear after clearing, whether it is a shovel or a blower. That way it will be ready to work when the next flurry comes.
Happy clearing and enjoy your garden.
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