Can I Use a Snow Blower on a Gravel Driveway?
In some parts of the world, snow is inevitable. Life still needs to go on, meaning work, grocery shopping, kids to school, etc. Depending on how much snow you receive, the driveway and/or walkway will need to be cleared of the white stuff. A snow shovel is an option, but that is hard back-breaking work. The driveway may also be very long. Is there a snow blower that can be used to remove the snow if the above-mentioned pathways are made of gravel?
Buying the Correct Machine
The answer to the above questions is yes if you have the right snow blower. These machines come in one-stage and two-stage type units. You will want to stay away from the one-stage or single units. Yes, they are cheaper. They work just fine. They are not the machine you are looking for.
Single Stage Snow Blowers
The main component of a snow blower is the spinning device that picks up the snow, called an auger. In a single-stage model, the auger, usually made of hard rubber or plastic, scoops the snow up and throws it out of the chute in one motion. The difference here is, that auger scrapes the snow right down to the pavement. There is no middleman, so to speak, to intercept any debris, such as rocks or gravel.
Two Stage Snow Blower
This is the machine to purchase for a gravel driveway. It differs in a couple of ways when compared to the single stage. Usually having only one, but sometimes two augers, they pick up the snow, grind it up, and sends it to the impeller. The high-speed impeller then throws the snow through the chute up to 50 feet away. The opening of the machine sits low to the ground, but the auger doesn’t make contact. You can always adjust the height of the opening, so it sits higher, it will still not collect any of the gravel even if you have a larger diameter stone.
Look for a machine that you can change the height of the auger opening by using adjustable skids. There is a disadvantage to having a two-stage blower with the augur not reaching the bottom, and having those moveable skids; there will still be a thin coating of snow left behind. This can cause a problem if it does not melt immediately, then re-freezes that night. A remedy for this is to use salt or ice melting pellets. They are ineffective on deep snow, but the thin layer that the blower will leave behind is perfect for this type of application.
There is an art to using one of these type of snow blowers on a gravel pathway. If you set the skids too high, you will not be clearing enough snow to be useful. If you set it too low, there is always the chance you will be sending frozen gravel projectiles through somebody’s window.
A bonus of the two-stage blower over the single-stage is the adjustable chute. If the controls are on the handle, it makes it easy to aim the flying snow, with that ever-present possibility of a stray rock, away from any possible strike zones. A small piece of advice, when spring does roll around, and you are getting ready to mow for the first time, look around in the area that you were throwing the snow. It is better to find that rock before your lawnmower does.
Some Factors to Think About Before the Snow Falls
Gravel driveways and pathways are inexpensive, and that is why you probably have one, to begin with. If you know, there is going to be lots of snow in your future, and if it is at all possible that you can have it paved, you may save yourself some heartache in the long run. If not, something else to think about is to tamp the gravel down as much as you can before a snowfall. Tampers are relatively inexpensive, and if you can pound the rocks down enough, there is less chance of chucking one when blowing the snow.
Gravel driveways and pathways are tricky when it comes to snow removal. It is more of an art than science to it, but it can be done. During springtime, you do not want to be purchasing another truckload of gravel to redo what was tossed away with the snow. Use lots of common sense, don’t try to remove all the snow at once, do it in layers if need be. It is better to take a little longer to do it safely than to be buying a new window for your neighbor’s car or front door.