Truck + plow blade. Snow-covered driveway ending in garage. Can it work?
December 31, 2013 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Dumb question: can a pick-up truck with a plow blade clear a short straight driveway that goes from the street right up to a garage? By design, the plow is intended push snow in front of it—so won't the result be a pile of snow against the garage door? Or can the blade be raised high enough so that the driver can move it over a mound of snow, lower the blade, and drive backward to pull the snow away?

I'm considering trying out Plowz, an iPhone/Android app for requesting a service to plow a snow-covered driveway, to clear my mother's driveway in Utah when she needs it. As far as I can tell, Plowz acts as an intermediary to hire drivers with pick-up trucks outfitted with a plow blade in front, rather than (say) people with snowblowers. I don't personally know of anyone who has ever tried to have a pick-up truck with a blade try to clear straight driveways, nor have I ever seen it done, so I just don't know if this approach would work. If I hire a driver and they go do it, and the result is a pile of snow against the garage door, that'll leave my mother with a different and possibly worse problem. This is not a good "try it and see" situation, or else I would try it.
posted by StrawberryPie to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Half my neighbors- all with straight driveways- have plow services come up here in Alaska. The drivers kind of drag the snow back then push it in a pile on the front sides of the driveway. Like so. I see drivers shovel the stuff very near the garage door when they're done.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:09 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

The blade can be placed at an angle so that the snow goes to one side.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:20 PM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

My husband has one of these and says your plow blade should have a mechanism to allow you to adjust the angle, so you just angle it to the left or right depending on where you want the snow to go.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:20 PM on December 31, 2013

The blade can be placed at an angle so that the snow goes to one side.

I've never seen a plow pick-up rigged any way other than on an angle.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:24 PM on December 31, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, the idea is to angle the blade so that the snow gets pushed off to the side as you go along. If it all piled up in front of the blade, it would quickly become too much for the truck to push. Generally when someone is plowing a driveway, they will try to organize their work such that the snow gets pushed into areas where it isn't in the way so much. Also, if they are working up against a garage or something where they can't push it forward without just making a wall of snow in front of the garage, they will raise the plow blade, drive up to the garage door, drop it again, and then drag the snow backward to somewhere where they can work with it. This is a bit of a pain in the butt but it's standard operating procedure. It would be pointless to plow a driveway such that it actually became more difficult to drive up it.
posted by Scientist at 5:34 PM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

We have a driveway like this. Plows can be lifted, dropped over a pile of snow, and then pulled back but it doesn't work very well. The structure of the plow isn't designed to hold it down when you're pulling backwards. But in our case it's generally been sufficient.

Bobcats are better, though.
posted by alms at 6:42 PM on December 31, 2013

Here's a thread where a group of plowing professionals discuss driveway clearing techniques. Sounds like it can certainly be done, and a "backblade" is the way to do it efficiently. The truck is backed in over/through the piled snow with the plow blades raised, then they lower the blades to the ground and drive out, pushing the snow to the sides and into the street.
posted by contraption at 7:39 PM on December 31, 2013

Best answer: Your standard snow plow blade can be adjusted from left to center to right by the operator. The procedure would generally be to clear as much of the driveway as possible the standard way, then pull up to the garage, drop the blade and pull the snow backwards.

You'd still probably need the driver, or someone else, to clean up the edges. Truck plows for residential work like that aren't terribly efficient, nor do they do a very pretty job. If the driveway isn't perfectly smooth, the plow blade will chew up any high spots. If you want a really nice job done, you are better off hiring someone nearby who has a good snowblower.

Only an idiot would just push the snow into the garage door. That doesn't mean it wouldn't happen, but it shouldn't and would be the kind of thing to complain about.

They also make a blade specifically designed for this kind of work that hangs off the back of the truck. The driver would back down the driveway, drop both blades and clear the whole thing in one swoop.

(You also may not get great prices and/or service by arranging things on an ad-hoc basis. Most guys try to get as many maintenance contracts as they can so they have some kind of guaranteed work when it snows. So they really don't have a whole lot of time to fit in extra, one-off jobs. Your driveway will probably be at the bottom of their list.)
posted by gjc at 8:59 PM on December 31, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all the great answers (on new year's eve, no less!). They also help answer the question of how advisable it is to arrange for a random plow service to come do a short residential driveway :-).
posted by StrawberryPie at 9:43 PM on December 31, 2013

On another note, my mom has a service come plow her driveway and I think she pays a set fee per month. Then the guys monitor the weather and conditions and just make the rounds. She lives at high elevation in Montana so this is pretty common. These guys are great, they plow the driveway and then get out and shovel her steps. If it's really coming down, they might even come back around and make a second pass. It might be worth it to have a service on retainer. There was one winter where my Dad tried to handle the thing mostly with a snow blower mounted on an ATV and then, when the snow got too heavy for the machine to handle it, they had to wait all day or even into the next day for the guys to come since they had to wait behind the regular customers.
posted by amanda at 10:31 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a blade for my truck and can actually back into my garage to get a straight run at it, but when I do my elderly neighbor's house (when they are in town and not in Arizona), I push the snow on an angle up to about 3 feet away from the door. Then I do as you suggested and as not above, I lift the blade and pull so back. Then, because the driveway is two car widths wide, I am able to angle it so that I push the snow to the side of the driveway usually in piles next to the garage. I don't do it professionally or for anyone but myself and this one elderly neighbor, so I am not sure I am doing it the most efficient way, but I have never had anyone ask for their money back.

Btw, a good plow service will do it multiple times during a heavy storm. Not only does it make the part near the garage easier, the less snow to move, the less strain on the truck's engine. Plowing can easily burn out an engine in short time.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:13 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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