The changes in seasons create a certain rhythm to our lives. In the summer we start thinking about revitalizing our lawn and landscaping. Summer brings mowing, fall brings those pesky leaves, and then there’s winter. Depending on where you live, this season can present some of your biggest outdoor challenges. Winter blizzards, snow, and ice can effectively bring our normal routine to a standstill.
If you live in a place like Colorado Springs, you know that frequent and major snowfall can quickly become a problem. Aside from the issue of blocking roads and driveways, snow can damage roofs and other outside structures. When snow melts in low temperatures, the ice that forms can create its own bevy of problems and hazards.
Getting Rid of the Snow: the DIY Route
Nature, of course, will eventually take care of removing any snowfall. The right kind of snow in moderate amounts can be great for your lawn and trees, as snow allows moisture to seep slowly and deeply into the plants as it melts. It’s a different story, though, when you have to get the car out of the garage or your roof is close to overload.
One of our favorite ways to get that snow removed is to create a sign in front of a blocked driveway full of fresh snow that says, “Free snowmen. Some assembly required.” But if that technique doesn’t work for you, here are a few pointers when you finally set out to tackle the job of snow removal yourself.
Check your pulse. It’s no urban legend that hospital emergency rooms gear up for cardiac cases when there is a heavy snowfall in their area. Studies by the American Journal of Cardiology show that heart disease deaths rise by an average of 22 percent during the week after a blizzard. Harvard Health points out that it’s not just shoveling snow: pushing a snow blower can also be a major hazard. When you think about tackling this job, make sure you’re up to it physically. If you are, use the same precautions you would for any strenuous exercise, including stretching before and after and staying hydrated.
Don’t forget the roof – and do it right. Heavy snow accumulation can damage your roof, even if the thing doesn’t collapse under the weight. The damage can be especially bad if the snow partially melts and turns into ice in parts of your roof and gutters. There are two key things to remember about removing snow from your roof:
- First, don’t use a ladder. In freezing weather, metal ladders present special dangers of icing and becoming slippery. Also, unanticipated slides of snow and ice will knock you off and can cause serious injuries.
- Secondly, be very careful with your snow removal rakes. These are great for reaching up high on the roof, but can also come into contact with power lines and other wiring. You can easily damage your shingles and roofing if you are too heavy-handed, especially if there is heavy ice mixed with the snow.
- Plan your work. Nothing about snow removal is more frustrating than having to do it twice. Consider that heaped up snow often hardens before melting and can last for days or even weeks. Evaluate the amount of snow you’ll be removing; carry the early scoops away and work backwards so that the last snow is thrown the shortest distance. It’s usually best to work from the center of your driveway and work your way to the edge.
- Treat your snow blower right. Because it’s seldom used, the snow blower is often ignored when it comes to maintenance and prep. Make sure it’s ready before the snow comes and keep the front cleared when you’re actually removing the snow.
A final tip for you proactive types: act before the snow. Be sure to cover and protect any of your sensitive vegetation and landscaping to keep it from icing as the snow melts.