Snow removal can take over your winter – it is time-consuming, and can be back-breaking work, depending on the storm. And when your driveway is made of gravel, you must take extra care to make sure that your shoveling doesn’t destroy your driveway – driveway repair can be costly!
The problem is that you want your driveway clear of snow, but you don’t want to clear away your gravel in the process of removing the snow. So the question is: is there a way to get rid of the snow without harming your driveway? In fact, there are several ways.
The Usual Solutions
You can remove snow from gravel driveways in a variety of ways that go far beyond your trusty shovel. Consider the following approaches:
1. A leaf blower or snow blower. A regular leaf blower enables you to remove light, dry snow very easily, which means that there will be storms where a leaf blower is the only tool you’ll need to clear your driveway. For heavier storms, you'll need to get out your snow blower, though this isn't an option for most people who rule these out due to their size, price, and need for fresh gasoline.
2. A regular shovel. When it comes to wet snow, you can’t just blow it away, but with a regular (not snow) shovel, you’ll be able to remove the snow in layers. Stop when you have about an inch of snow left, so that bottom layer of gravel remains where it belongs, on the ground.
3. A rake. A sturdy garden rake can do more than you realize when it comes to driveway snow removal. When the head of a rake is heavy and the tines of a rake are about an inch apart, the rake is an effective tool for breaking up dense, compacted snow. You might take a little gravel with you, but nearly all of it should remain in place on the driveway.
4. Salt. The idea of using salt is to melt as much of the snow that other methods haven’t removed, preventing the formation of ice, and leaving all gravel intact.
Melting Away the Snow for Gravel Driveways
As we said, there are the usual snow removal methods…and then there’s the new, innovative idea of melting the snow before it has a chance to accumulate.
1. Radiant flooring. One way to eliminate the need for snow removal is inground radiant heating, or heated driveways, where the snow basically meets a warm floor and melts. The downside? The cost! Even though the one-time installation is both logical and efficient, underground heating remains a luxury at $14 - $24 per square foot (approximately $201.50 - $345.43 CAD per square meter), at least for the time being. But it holds widespread appeal, especially for those who have not yet laid their gravel driveways (or, more popularly, their concrete driveways).
2. Snow-melting mats. There is also a more affordable option of melting snow before it accumulates, and that's with the help of heated mats. Industrial mats can be laid directly on your gravel driveway for safe and snow- and ice-free driving (the residential mats are meant only for walkways – not for driving on).
How Do Snow-Melting Mats Work?
These mats are made of customized thermoplastic material and generate enough heat to melt snow at a rate of 2 inches (5 cm) per hour (in a substantial snowstorm, it is not uncommon to see snow fall at a rate of 1 - 2 inches/hour (2.54 - 5 cm/hour); when snowfall reaches 3 - 5 inches/hour (7.62 - 12.7 cm/hour), the storm is unusually strong or fast). Because you leave the mats outside all day, every day of the winter, your walkways remain clear throughout the winter.
The mats use water-tight connector cables, which means that they can be interconnected to make a continuous walkway around your house and use only one plug.
The driveway mats cost a fraction of the cost of inground radiant heating and entail even less exertion when compared to shoveling or any of the other methods above. Turn the mats on when a storm begins, and turn it off when snowfall has stopped. Alternatively, an energy efficient thermostat or snow sensor conserves both your electricity and your physical efforts by turning on the mats automatically. Roll up the mats and store them during non-snowy seasons.
Shoveling snow can truly become a thing of the past. Look into the possibilities of Snow-Melting Mats for your driveway today.