When the snow starts to fall, your first priority is going to be clearing the essential surfaces such as driveways, pathways, and decks to allow for safe and easy movement around your property. In northern regions, we’re all probably way too familiar with the dreaded snow shovel and the attendant aches and pains from clearing away an accumulation of snow. But aside from using a snow blower or snow plow on the driveway, are there any other ways to clear away snow?
Depending on the type of snow, a leaf blower can be a very effective method to clear away snow quickly and easily, even on surfaces where a snow blower or snow plow cannot be used. When snow is light and fluffy, it’s as easy as blowing leaves in fall! However, heavier snow will need alternative methods of removal.
What to Consider When Blowing Snow with a Leaf Blower?
Power of the Leaf Blower Matters!
The first thing to consider when thinking about using a leaf blower for removing snow is the power of the blower. Obviously, a more powerful blower is going to do a more effective job in clearing away snow.
If you’re planning to use it just for a short driveway and a small patio, the time spent will not probably justify a really powerful model, but if you have lots of surfaces to clear, it’s worth spending more for a bigger machine.
Type of Snow Determines if it’s Possible
This is one instance in which living farther north will really pay off. You see, dry, fluffy snow is the only type of snow that can be effectively cleared with a leaf blower, as wet snow is too heavy to be blown away.
That light snow is only possible when temperatures are below freezing, so unless you often get cold weather, your leaf blower is only going to be useful for clearing leaves in the fall.
A Leaf Blower Will Blow More than Just Snow
One thing to bear in mind when deploying a leaf blower for blowing snow is that it doesn’t care what it blows! If you’ve got anything loose lying around, they’re going to get picked up as well by the force of the air.
That might include toys on the patio, or gravel on the driveway. While picking up stray items off the deck or patio isn’t too much trouble, you obviously can’t do anything about a gravel drive. Unless you want to spend the spring raking gravel out of your grass, plowing or shovelling is a better alternative.
Amount of Snow You Get Annually
A leaf blower can’t do much for a snowfall more than 4 inches (10 cm), so if you live in an area that regularly gets really big dumps of snow, your leaf blower is best kept for fall leaf cleanup.
How to Blow Snow with a Leaf Blower?
1. Prepare Your Leaf Blower
Start by preparing your leaf blower. If it’s an electric model, make sure you plug it into a GFCI outlet to avoid the risk of electric shock. It may be frozen, but snow is water, after all! Especially if you’re using a gas leaf blower, wear protective ear coverings.
2. Start with High Up Snow
Start with the highest spots and work your way down. For instance, if you want to blow snow off your cars, do them before tackling the driveway around them. The same goes for steps; start at the top and move down to ground level.
3. Avoid Stepping and Compacting Snow
Avoid stepping on the snow before attempting to blow it, as that will pack it down and make it harder to blow away. Sweep away a small patch at the start and then move forward on the bare surface as you blow. Be alert for any ice that may have formed under the snow that you might slip on.
4. Steadily Move Blower
Slowly and steadily move the blower back and forth ahead of you, distributing the snow in both directions as you go.
5. Wipe Blower Clean and Store it Properly
When you’re finished, wipe any accumulated snow or water off the leaf blower, and store it in a warm dry place to let it dry thoroughly.
Can You Blow Snow off a Patio with a Leaf Blower?
If your patio or deck have been cleared off for the winter, a leaf blower is a great way to keep snow from accumulating on those surfaces. However, if you’ve got outdoor furniture or a BBQ out there, there’s always the risk of damage.
In that case, a better choice is a snow thrower, which is essentially a smaller version of a snow blower. While it won’t throw snow as far as a snow blower, its smaller size makes it perfect for confined spaces such as a patio or deck. In fact, if you only have a very short driveway, you may find that it’s all you need for winter snow removal!
For instance, this Greenworks Electric Snow Thrower can clear snow up to 10 inches (25 cm) high, throwing it a distance of 20 feet (6 metres).
Can You Blow Snow from Your Driveway Using a Leaf Blower?
While many people might consider clearing snow from steps or walkways with a leaf blower, you may be wondering if it can also be used to clear your driveway.
That depends on the length of your drive and the type of surface. For instance, a short driveway paved with asphalt, concrete, or pavers could be cleared fairly efficiently with a powerful leaf blower.
However, if your driveway is very long, or has a gravel surface, a leaf blower is not a very practical choice. A long, paved driveway is best cleared with a plow or snowblower. If your drive is gravel, the leaf blower (or a snow blower, for that matter) will pick up gravel and fling it into your grass, where you’ll have to remove it the next spring.
It’s better to use a snow plow attachment on a riding mower, or hire someone to come in and plow it for you.
Can You Blow Snow off Your Car Using a Leaf Blower?
That early morning chore of clearing off your car after a snowstorm is never fun. This is one place where a leaf blower can really shine! If the snow isn’t wet and heavy, blowing the accumulated snow off your car should take no time at all.
What are the Best Leaf Blowers for Blowing Snow?
There are of course many different leaf blower models out there to choose from. While you probably will not be buying one solely for blowing snow, it’s worth keeping that in mind when purchasing a leaf blower.
1. RYOBI 38cc Gas Backpack Leaf Blower
The RYOBI 38cc Gas Backpack Leaf Blower is not only extremely powerful, but also convenient to carry on your back as you work. It has variable speeds and cruise control so that you can easily choose the right level of power needed to clear your snow away.
2. Husqvarna 28cc Handheld Gas Blower
The Husqvarna 28cc Handheld Gas Blower is handheld, with high air volume and an adjustable tube length for whatever job you need it for.
3. DEWALT 20V MAX* XR Leaf Blower
The DEWALT 20V MAX* XR Leaf Blower is a light-weight, battery powered leaf blower. It has a fairly brief run time before recharging, but if all you need is something to clear snow off your front walk and cars, it will be more than adequate.
What are the Alternatives to Clearing Snow with a Leaf Blower?
Snow blowers are commonly used for clearing snow off driveways and walks. You have a few options when looking for a snowblower.
If you have a riding lawn mower, you can buy a snow blower attachment that will do an excellent job clearing your driveway and paths. It will fling the snow as far as 25 feet (15 metres), preventing large snow piles that can take forever to melt when spring arrives.
Walking snowblowers are another option if you don’t have a riding mower. While they involve more effort as you walk back and forth, they also eliminate the tiring work of manually shovelling snow.
A snow thrower is a smaller version of a snow blower, and is perfect for smaller spaces such as patios, very short drives, and paths. Because it is lightweight, you can even use it on a raised deck.
Shovelling used to be the only way to clear snow away in winter, and it’s still a handy method for small jobs. When the snow is too wet and heavy for a leaf blower, using a shovel to get rid of snow on your front steps or deck is really your only option. For larger expanses like a driveway, however, it can be quite taxing physically, especially if you’re not in great shape.
Even a snow blower mounted on a riding mower may be stymied by a big dump of heavy, wet snow. In such a case, you best alternative is plowing.
While you can get plow attachments for riding mowers, trucks, or ATVs, you may find it easier to just hire someone to plow out your driveway on the hopefully few occasions every winter that the need arises.
Especially if your driveway is sloped, a heated driveway can be a definite safety feature. Heated driveways are a pricy option, but if you do spend the money, you shouldn’t have to worry about clearing snow off your driveway ever again, with one big exception (more on that later).
The cheapest alternative is buying portable heated mats. An advantage is that they can be moved around to melt snow or ice in other spots as well, and you can take them with you when you move. However, you will need somewhere to store them in-between storms and all summer, and lugging them around will soon become a bothersome chore on its own.
A built-in system is best installed at the same time as your driveway. You can get either hot water or electric grid systems that will melt snow and ice as it hits the surface, keeping your driveway safe.
However, unless you also have a generator, if there’s an electricity outage (more likely in a major storm, of course) your driveway will still be covered with snow and ice!
The Verdict – Is A Leaf Blower the Best Snow Clearing Tool?
A leaf blower is a good snow clearing tool, but it’s not going to be the only one in your shed. If you have a moderately light accumulation of dry, fluffy snow, it’s ideal for quickly clearing off relatively small areas like your cars and steps, but for heavy-duty snow clearing, you will need alternatives designed specifically for that purpose.
Essentially, if you already need a leaf blower to deal with autumn leaves, it doesn’t hurt to use it for clearing snow where possible.
However, I wouldn’t recommend spending the money on a leaf blower just for clearing snow.
Janice is a retired High School teacher who is spending her leisure years keeping busy with all sorts of projects. Aside from freelance writing, she’s an enthusiastic amateur chef, home wine maker, and tends a large raised-bed vegetable garden, while at the same time running a Bed & Breakfast.