Snow Removal

A harsh winter has been forecast for the Pacific Northwest this year, which means many homeowners may find themselves shoveling more snow than usual. While it may be tempting to merely shovel a hasty path to the front door and wait for the rest to melt, being proactive about snow removal not only makes your home safer for coming and going, but it can help minimize the storm damage done to your yard.

Following are some guidelines for removing snow from your yard and driveway.

Clearing Pathways

The first concern in any snowstorm is to clear a safe path to your door. Keep in mind, however, that the ultimate goal in effective snow removal is to consolidate the snow in your yard as much as you can. A few things to consider:

– A good, safe path should have a width of at least 42 inches. This is especially important if children, the elderly or people with wheelchairs or other mobility devices will be using the walkway.

– Completely clear any sidewalks in front of your home.

– If conditions become icy, sprinkle some sand along sidewalks and pathways for extra traction.

– Don’t forget to clear a path to the garbage can and any other areas of the yard you may need to reach while you’re waiting for the snow to melt.

– Before you start shoveling, survey your yard and choose a location for dumping the excess snow. It should be in an area you won’t need to access for a while, as the piled-up snow will take longer to melt than the rest of your yard. Make sure you aren’t piling snow on top of your garden or favorite spring plants.

– A snow blower can make snow removal vastly easier. These work best when the snow is at least several inches deep. Tune up your snow blower after each big snow to ensure it keeps working as long as possible.

Clearing Your Decking Material

One part of the yard many people forget about in a snowstorm is the deck. While it’s magical to look out the window and see drifts piling up on the deck and railings, snow can damage the decking material if left too long. Not only can the weight of snow buildup put added strain on the structure, but the moisture from melting snow can encourage the growth of mold and mildew as well as cause the decking material to rot.

It’s a good idea to keep your cedar deck or composite decking material as snow-free as possible. Best practices for clearing snow from your deck include:

– To avoid damaging your decking material, sweep the snow of with a stiff-bristled broom.

– If you must use a shovel, choose a plastic one, as metal can scrape or gouge a cedar or composite deck.

– Shovel along the length of the boards of your deck, not across, and don’t use the shovel to chip away at ice.

– To remove ice from a cedar deck, carefully pour hot water over the ice to help break it up, then sweep away the chunks with an outdoor broom. Lay down some cat litter to prevent additional ice from building up. Avoid using rock salt or de-icers on a cedar deck, as they can ruin the finish and even stain the wood.

– Rock salt can be used on composite decking material as long as you rinse off the remaining residue once the ice has melted.