For anyone that hasn’t a) turned on the television, b) looked at their phone, c) picked up the papers or d) drawn their curtains, we have some news for you: it has been snowing quite a bit over the past couple of days. Mmmm hmmmm. Traffic has been properly disrupted, airports have been closed, flights have been cancelled and, most importantly, your outside space has been dumped on by about three inches of the white stuff.
For some of you, getting your shovel out of the shed-slash-garage may be avoidable. You haven’t got to be anywhere anytime soon, which means you can wait for all that snow to melt away, while you pop your feet up and enjoy the crackle of a log fire. Bliss. For others, however, the shovel may be calling your name. Not bliss.
Now, we know shovelling snow is about as far from fun as one can possibly get, but if you don’t act fast then you might find this meagre snowfall your looking at melts and refreezes, which could spell disaster (#slippery #dangerous).
With that in mind, we have decided to pull together a list of snow shovelling tips, tricks and bits of advice to make sure this rather cold chore goes as smoothly as possible. Oh, and we’ve also thrown in a couple of ways to make the whole thing a little less, how do you say, boring – because we’re awesome like that. So, without further ado and all that…
Perfection Is All In The Preparation
When it comes to shovelling snow, at the top of any given list is safety, followed closely by comfort, and then – as Jeremy Clarkson would say – more speed. That is why you need to adhere to these five preparation pointers before you do anything else:
- Stretch it out – if you want to avoid injury, then you need to accept that you’ve probably enjoyed a rather lazy Christmas where you’ve done little to no physical exercise and are thus not in peak physical condition. What we are saying is, you need to stretch your muscles or run the risk of moaning and groaning your way into the new year.
- Warm it up – The reason it’s been snowing is that it’s been cold and the reason the snow hasn’t melted yet is that it is still cold. So don’t underestimate it. We’re talking wellie boots, ski socks, long johns, vests, cable-knit jumpers, jeans, coats and even two pairs of underwear if that’s what it takes. After all, no one is happy when they’re cold.
- Have a break – Like we said, you’re probs not in the best shape of your life post-Christmas lunch. So don’t try and get all your shovelling done in one go. Take a break, or two, or three, or four.
- Wax on, wax off – This may sound like something Keen Kevin does because he has too much time on his hands, but there is a reason to this crazy piece of advice and it is all to do with making your blade slippery. Why? Because a slippery blade stops snow sticking to it, which makes the whole snow shovelling thing a whole lot quicker. Candle wax, PAM spray, car wax – whatever you have kicking around will do fine.
- Good habits win – We mentioned safety being at the top of the pile and we meant it, which is why you need to make sure you exercise good habits, such as bending at your knees, holding the blade close to your body and switching the arm you lead with every so often. You’ll thank us for it.
Sometimes Shovelling Isn’t The Answer
If you’re staring out of kitchen window and seeing an expanse of white where your lawn used to be, our immediate recommendations would be “leave it alone”. Shovelling snow off your lawn is just one of those high-risk manoeuvres that could damage the crown of the plant and either weaken your grass dramatically or even kill it off completely. So, yeah, it’s not worth it. If, however, you are a super proud lawn owner (or you’re meeting your in-laws for the first time and know they are super proud lawn owners), then we recommend you use a broom rather than a shovel. It’s not entirely risk-free, but it gives you better odds than a shovel does.
If It’s Good Enough For Making Igloos…
It’s one of those shower thoughts that we constantly get stuck on; this idea that something as cold as snow and ice can be used as a shelter that keeps you warm. But that’s exactly the point here. While old Jack Frost maybe scratching at your nose, snow can actually be used as a great insulator, which is why you should make your snow shovelling efforts worthwhile and toss some snow onto your flower beds. Think of it as a sort of freezing cold mulch. Just remember to a) keep your tosses low and gentle so that you don’t cause any damage to the winter-brittle plants and b) don’t use snow from near the road because it will probably be full of salt and not every plant out there can tolerant salt.
Brush Your Branches Clear
For those that are skimming through this article with more impatience than a millennial late for a climate change march, we mentioned how some plants have probably become brittle as a result of winter. As such, you should keep an eye out for any branches in your garden that have been covered and brush the snow off them. This will – hopefully – prevent the branches from snapping. Of course, this could mean your garden gets covered in little heaps of snow everywhere, which is why you should pick your shovel up again and start lining the foundation of your home with the white fluffy stuff. After all, it does have insulating qualities, as we discussed above.
Build A Wall And Make Winter Pay For It
Scooping snow and then tossing it mindlessly is a chore as monotonous as they come. However, if you can aim your snow tossing a bit better, then you might find yourself building a nice little windbreak out of the white stuff, turning the monotony you once felt into a mission fueled by purpose. You see, lawns and shrubs and flowers and perennials, they are all craving some shelter from the harsh wintery conditions, and that is exactly what a windbreak offers them. So, this weekend, build a wall and make winter pay for it.
Always Have A Thought To Ponder
We’ve established that shovelling snow is boring. It just is. It’s like mowing the lawn. It’s fun for about 0.8 seconds and then it becomes tedious. That is why you should gather a few thoughts worth pondering before you head outside; that way your mind will be kept nicely busy. Sure, the age-old questions of “what is the meaning of life?”, “why is there something instead of nothing?”, “why is the alphabet in the order it is?”, “who the heck voted for Trump?” and “why do people yawn?” will all do the trick, but it may be better to arm yourself with some thought-provoking topics more closely linked to your, well, circumstances. You know, things like, “which catchment area has the best schools?”. But whatever floats your boat, really