The Best Snow Shoveling Tips & Tricks from Around the Web

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Tess Wilson)

On New Year’s Day 2014, I did my very first real snow shoveling, and let me tell you — that stuff is no joke. We had 1-2 feet of snow covering a driveway that’s larger than my last apartment, meaning I got a serious introduction to the world of shoveling. I found the work and the exertion exhilarating, but really had no idea what I was doing. Time to bring in the experts…

Whether you’re living in a snowy locale for the first time, or, like me, you’re no stranger to cold climates but have always lived in apartments, or you still live in an apartment and are just an extraordinarily good citizen, here’s a collection of shoveling secrets to help you get the job done safely and efficiently.

TAoM wants to be sure you’re dressed properly for the job, and that you own the optimal shovel (not plastic, not “ergonomic”). My favorite tips are “Do not try to shovel into the wind” and “A man is always looking out for others. So if you live next door to a little old lady, go over there and shovel her driveway and walkway, too”. However, their recommendation of snowblowers for medium to long driveways falls flat to those of us without the money or inclination to buy big pieces of equipment. I’ve got a shovel and determination, and that’s plenty.

I love Rule #2: “Don’t move snow twice”. Yes! I kept trying to figure out how to make something like this work, but Popular Mechanics lays it out in simple, elegant terms. Unfortunately, Rule #13 (“It’s easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down”) totally violates my own rule, “Why bother shoveling when it’s still snowing? Let’s just wait until it’s all over…say, April?”.

Physical therapist Abby Sims has some excellent and thorough advice, including #4 “Avoid reaching too far”, #7 “Pivot to avoid excess twisting of your trunk”, and #8 “If the snowfall was a big one, lift and move it in layers to limit the weight”. She elaborates on each of these- and 8 more- tips, so be sure to read through.

I appreciate this tip: “If the snow is too deep or heavy to push, think wall squat: Set your feet shoulderwidth apart, keep your lower back and core set, and lift with your legs and butt.” Any chance to do squats is fine by me.

The news affiliate reached out to a University of Minnesota mathematician to come up with the ultimate formula for snow shoveling, but the answer they received was highly disappointing: “This is the kind of question that could be approached mathematically, but there are so many variables that it probably wouldn’t be a good way to find an answer”. I refuse to accept that! Mathematicians, please try harder! And then send me a diagram.

THIS is exactly what I’ve been looking for! The article linked is mostly about snowblowers and other snow-removing gadgets, but the real gold is in the graphic on the lower left. Click to expand, and you’ll see three diagrams for maximum snow removal efficiency. There are separate tips for dealing with light, fluffy snow vs. wet, heavy snow, and I love it so much. I’m going to memorize it (“Continue pushing in a spiderweb fashion”) before the next snowfall and totally dominate the driveway.

To contribute to the good advice-o-rama, please add your best tips below!