To Shovel or Not to Shovel – That is the Question

Is it really necessary to shovel your driveway? Or do you just do it out of habit, or because that’s what your parents did when you were a kid? Or out of guilt, because your neighbor is out shovelling his as soon as the last flake falls? Think about it for a minute.

Now I’m not talking about up north where they measure snowfall in feet rather than inches. Those folks need attached garages, heating coils in outdoor steps, two or three sturdy snow shovels, and a snowplow blade mounted on at least one of their four-wheel-drive vehicles. They also need snowmobiles, cross-country skis, and other things I simply refuse to own. If I ever move away from Kentucky the only white stuff that should be outside my door is sand.

I’m talking about people who live in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, who have less than an acre of land, have concrete or asphalt driveways, and whose kids don’t go to school if ten inches of snow falls overnight. You don’t really need to shovel. That’s right, you don’t. Now if you have a sidewalk, then yes, you are legally obligated to shovel the sidewalk and the area through your driveway that could be considered sidewalk. And there may be some neighborhood associations – the ones that don’t allow basketball hoops or inflatable holiday decorations and send you nasty letters if you leave your garage door open too long – that require shoveling. But it was your choice to buy a house there. Read the fine print next time. The rest of us can just park near the end of the driveway when snow is predicted, shovel away the mound the plow left at the end of the driveway while the car warms up (no 4WD needed), brush off the snow on the roof, hood, and trunk with one of those 3-foot scraper/brush thingies they sell everywhere in the winter, then back out and drive away. If you don’t live right on a snow emergency route your street’s probably not been plowed at all, and if it has it’s certainly not been shoveled clean. So why should you do that to your driveway?

I grew up in the country. A driveway might be a mile long. They were all gravel. About every third person had a pickup with a snow-plow attachment in case of deep drifts. But mostly all it took was somebody driving up and down the driveway a time or two and it was perfectly fine. I married a city boy, one of four brothers. He thought shovelling was essential until he met me. Now he just shakes his head as he watches our neighbors shovel themselves into exhaustion. The guy next door is a bit out of control, though. He precision-shovels his entire driveway, all the way to the garage near the rear of his yard. Then his shovels the front walk, the back walk, and his large deck. I happen to know he signed the petition circulating last week to put in sidewalks – I think he just wants more to shovel!

I watch the neighborhood shovelers for another reason. Back when I worked as a nurse in the Coronary Care Unit the first decent snowfall of the year meant one thing: lots of elderly men coming in with heart attacks from shoveling their driveways. Really? Is it that important for you to be able to see the surface of your driveway? You just drive on it, maybe park on it. It’s not a piece of art, the snow’s not going to hurt it in any way. I worry more about clearing a path for my dogs to get outside without slipping than I do the driveway. We make sure our walkway is clear enough for the mailman, but we don’t really shovel, because it’s brick and river rock.

Have I changed your mind about shovelling? Shocked you to the very core of your driveway-maintenance beliefs? Or just reinforced what you’ve always known? Write a comment, send a pic!

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2 thoughts on “To Shovel or Not to Shovel – That is the Question”

  1. I live in Arizona (Northern Arizona) so I DO get to shovel occasionally. And I shovel for just one reason: ICE.

    I have a north-facing driveway and if I don’t shovel it off, it turns into an icy mess and it stays like that for weeks (while the rest of the snow is gone in days)

    Do I shovel my WHOLE driveway? Nope. Just the part that’s shaded by the house — the part that gets ice. The part near the street melts on its own.

    1. Yep, ice is a whole different animal. There’s a part of my back patio that’s like that and I have to take good care if it – I’m always afraid one of my dogs will slip and hurt themselves.

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