When you’re sitting on your deck sipping on a glass of lemonade with the hot sun beating down in the middle of summer winter feels like a million miles away, but it won’t be long until old man winter’s back knocking on your door.
Before you know it the winds will be whipping up outside and the snow will be blowing around your ankles.
It’s an inevitable fact of life for anyone living in a relatively northern climate and that’s why it’s a good idea to be prepared for it.
If you’re going to be ready for winter you need to make sure you have the snow removal tools you need.
There are numerous different options available to you and choosing the right one will depend on a lot of different factors.
The size of the area you have to clear will play a part as will other things such as health factors.
Here are the 15 must have snow removal tools for keeping your area clean in winter.
1. Standard Snow Shovel
If you’re not afraid of a little work a good old manual snow shovel is always a great problem. These come in a variety of sizes and are made from different materials.
My first snow shovel had a wooden handle and a metal shovel blade, but metal blades aren’t too common these days.
Most typical shovels are made with reinforced plastic blades and in many cases the handles are no longer made of plastic either.
You could probably find a more classic design if you’re willing to check out the odd garage sale or two.
Probably the biggest decision though is deciding how big of a blade you want for your shovel.
For walkways a small blade is the best choice, but if you’re shoveling a large driveway a heavy duty shovel with a large blade is likely necessary.
In our house we actually have a couple of shovels – a smaller one for the walks and a larger one for serious shoveling.
Recently a new innovation has been introduced for manual snow shovels that include a second handle lower down the main shaft to make the design more ergonomic and easier on the back.
It’s a simple innovation, but an effective one.
2. Ice Pick Axe
On the coldest winter days it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever see summer again. You know the type of days I’m talking about.
There are two foot long icicles hanging from your porch roof and your front door step has turned into a skating rink.
You won’t hear any birds chirping in this weather either, because they’ve all flown south for the winter.
Unfortunately we can’t fly south for the winter so we have to figure out how to deal with all that mind numbing ice.
Once thing you may want to keep stored in the garage for dealing with ice is a pick axe.
This may not be your traditional snow removal tool, but it sure can come in handy for getting rid of that extra ice buildup on your front step.
The best quality ones are made with fibreglass handles and a shock absorbing grip that makes handling one less taxing on the body.
3. Digging Bar
Another possibility if you’re trying to deal with heavy ice is a digging bar.
If you’re not familiar with these think of a sledge hammer and spike – it’s basically the same concept.
A digging bar is essentially a long metal pole with a sharp end on the bottom and a flat edge on the top for striking.
You can apply a lot of force to one of these without worrying about them breaking.
If you want to pick away at the ice and you have a problem with one of your shoulders this will allow you to apply the same amount of force as a pick axe without the wear and tear on both shoulders.
4. Garden Shovels
In our garage there are about 3 or 4 garden shovels that we’ve picked up along the way over the years.
Each one has turned a lot of soil in our backyard, but they’ve also served some other purposes.
If you have a small area you need to clear where a standard snow shovel is just a little too large a flat head garden shovel is the ideal alternative.
A curved edge shovel can work as well, but it’s a little awkward.
Your best bet is a flat head garden shovel if you have one and they also happen to be quite heavy-duty to handle the extra weight of all that snow.
5. Electric Snow Shovel
If you want something with a little more oomph than a standard snow shovel, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, an electric snow shovel may be just what you’re looking for.
These aren’t meant for the heaviest snow falls, but they’re great for making short work of a couple of inches.
If you live in an area that gets a bit of snow here and there, but not the heavy snow falls that many northern climates are exposed to this is a good option.
They’re also perfect for clearing off your walkways due to their lightweight and narrow design.
6. Snow Blower
Having lived north of the 43rd latitude for most of my life I’m used to winters with a lot of snow and that’s meant learning how to deal with snow drifts that are sometimes as tall as a man.
In this type of climate a snow blower is not only a status symbol it’s almost a necessity – that is of course if you don’t want to break your back clearing the snow from your driveway.
There are plenty of different models priced from a couple of hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand dollars and obviously the more you’re able to spend on one the better success you’ll have.
Typically, you should look for a snow blower with a chute that can rotate so you can aim the snow where you want it and one that throws snow at least 20 feet.
7. Riding Lawn Mower (Plow Attachment)
For those that happen to have a large yard of an acre or more you may have found the need to purchase a riding lawnmower.
As it turns out you can also use these mowers for snow removal in most cases.
There are some models that come with a plow attachment, but in most cases it’s something you will have to purchase separately.
Normally these are relatively easy to attach in the winter and if you have a long driveway this is a great way to go.
What would take you a couple of hours with a manual snow shovel will probably take you as little as 15 minutes with a lawn mower and a plow attachment.
8. Tractor (Plow Attachment)
A similar option to the riding lawn mower is a tractor with a plow attachment.
If you’re a farmer or you live on a hobby farm you may already have a tractor in your barn.
It would be a shame not to take advantage of this power unit you already own for plowing through the heavy snow.
There aren’t too many snow falls that a tractor with a plow attachment can’t deal with.
Be prepared to spend a little bit of money on one of these though, most tractors do not come with a plow attachment by default and they’re quite expensive.
9. ATV with Snow Plow Attachment
In the summer we love hitting the trails on our ATV’s.
There’s nothing quite like the mud splashing everywhere with the sound of the wind and the branches whipping by your ears as you burn down the trails.
It’s an exhilarating experience and one I recommend if you’ve never had the opportunity to try it.
When winter hits with a bang though, you don’t have to bury that ATV away in your garage – you can also buy plow blades for these as well.
The great advantage of plowing snow with your ATV is that they’re usually much more maneuverable than a tractor making it easier to handle tight turns.
10. Truck Plow
Every snow removal tool we’ve talked about so far has been a build up to the ultimate snow removal tool.
There is nothing that compares to a pickup truck with a snow plow attachment.
We had the good fortune a couple of years ago of having a neighbour with a pickup and a snow plow blade and we didn’t have to shovel our driveway for two straight years.
It took him about three minutes to plow our driveway and in return we’d buy dinner – a fair trade in my opinion.
If you have a friend, a family member, or a neighbour with a pickup truck and a plow attachment I definitely recommend getting in their good books!
Another great little machine for clearing snow is a bobcat.
These are typically found on construction sites for clearing away dirt, but they’re also excellent snow removal machines.
They’re almost as quick and effective on driveways as a pickup truck, but they have the added advantage of being narrow enough to use on sidewalks as well.
If you own a bobcat for clearing away walkways I guarantee your neighbours will love you.
They are quite expensive though, so unless you have money to burn you’re not likely to opt for one of these as a snow removal tool alone.
As the snow falls from the sky at an unrelenting tempo you don’t just have to be prepared to clean the snow from your driveway.
Unless you’re the type of person that prefers to walk everywhere or take the bus – there’s a good chance there’s a car in your driveway as well.
You can’t use a shovel or a snow blower to remove the snow from your car. What you need is a good scraper with a brush attachment on the other end.
These are relatively inexpensive and you can find them at the local hardware or department store for just a few bucks.
13. Outdoor Brush
When you’re faced with one of the heaviest snowfalls of the winter the small hand brush and scraper we were just talking about won’t really get the job done.
What you need in these types of situations is a large outdoor brush.
These are perfect for pushing large amounts of snow off your car with just a couple of sweeps.
Be careful though, make sure you choose one with soft bristles or you may damage the paint job on your car.
If you use one of these carefully it can make the process of removing the snow from your vehicle a much quicker and less painful process.
Once you’ve cleared the snow away from your front porch and steps you’re not necessarily finished the job.
When the temperatures drop well below zero there’s a good chance there’ll be a surprise or two waiting for you under the snow you just cleared in the form of ice.
There are a few different ways to deal with it and probably the most common method is to use a little bit of rock salt to melt the ice.
This will work pretty much every time and will help to prevent the risk of injury due to falls on the slippery ice.
15. Calcium Chloride Snow Melt
What a lot of people don’t realize is how much damage that salt can do to concrete.
Continuous use of salt over several years will leave a concrete porch looking pitted and worn.
If you want to remove the ice on your porch without damaging your porch concrete there is an alternative.
There are quite a few different products on the market today that use a chemical called calcium chloride.
This will melt the ice on your walk without damaging the concrete underneath it.
If there’s one thing you should take away from this article it’s the fact that there really are a lot of tools available to you to remove snow from your driveway and walkways when winter rolls around.
You might even have a couple of them sitting in your garage and just didn’t realize what you could do with them.
Good luck this winter and hopefully this list will help make your snow removal tasks a little easier.