Gardening

Snow Shoveling Tips to Follow this Winter

Photo; Gina Sanders, depositphotos

By Samantha Waites

Winter is jam-packed with fun snow activities we can all enjoy. Shoveling your driveway isn’t one of them. It’s tedious and often labor-intensive work that most of us would be thrilled to never have to do again.

Unfortunately, we’re not all that lucky—snow shoveling is a harsh winter reality for many.

While we can’t avoid doing it, there are some things you can do to make sure the experience is as pleasant as possible.

If you’ve had enough with shoveling your driveway all winter, you could consider buying a snow blower. You’ll still have to clear your driveway, but you’ll save a lot of time and energy while doing so.

But if you’re determined to stick it out with that trusty shovel of yours this winter, here are some helpful snow-shoveling tips that will make the task a bit easier:

Be Prepared

• Always warm up and stretch. Shoveling snow can be strenuous work. If you haven’t properly prepared, you could end up hurting yourself. Make sure you warm up and stretch beforehand, as you would ahead of a workout, so your body is ready to shovel.

• Dress for the occasion. That means layers! Keep yourself warm while you’re out in the cold by layering up when you’re preparing to shovel snow. Put on a good winter jacket over a warm sweater, along with gloves, a hat, a scarf and thick socks. Most importantly, wear boots that will not only keep your feet warm but will give you good grip on snow and ice.

• Have a plan and stick to it. Assess the area you need to shovel and the amount of snowfall you need to clear, and then devise a plan that will get the job done quickly and efficiently. Consider starting from the middle of your driveway, figure out how to avoid clearing the same area twice and remember to wipe the snow off any vehicles before removing snow around them.

Be Aware of Technique

• Push the snow—don’t lift it. It’s not always possible to avoid lifting snow when you’re shoveling, but try to push the snow to either side of your driveway rather than carrying it there. That way you save your back the trouble and are doing as much as you can to keep yourself from getting injured.

• Lift with your legs! When pushing the snow isn’t possible and you do have to lift it, lift with your legs, and bend your knees instead of bending your back. Most injuries that occur because of snow shoveling are back related, so using proper technique when moving snow is vital. It’s also helpful to keep the shovel close to your body when lifting snow—the further the shovel is from your body, the more strain you’re putting on yourself.

• Widen your base. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart when you’re shoveling so that you’re sturdy and you have the best footing possible when standing on ice or snow that has become slippery.

Be Easy on Yourself

• Choose a light, ergonomic shovel. Shoveling is already a grueling task, so don’t make it harder by using heavy, awkward equipment. Do research into the best shovels out there for the job you need to do and get the perfect one to fit your needs. Make sure it’s lightweight and designed for efficiency and comfort.

• Shovel during and right after the snow falls. It might seem counter-productive to start shoveling when the snow is still falling, but you’re actually doing yourself a big favor if you start during or right after a snowfall. Whatever you do, don’t wait! The snow you need to shovel will either get heavier or turn into ice; either way, it’s going to be harder to shovel than it would’ve been if you’d just started earlier.

• Give yourself a break. If the area you need to shovel is large or you’re clearing snow from a particularly big snowfall, make sure you give yourself some well-deserved breaks. This isn’t a race so take your time to get the job done right and without injury. That includes keeping yourself hydrated! It may be cold out but that doesn’t mean water is any less essential to your survival.

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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