It’s easier than ever to plow snow like a pro

Courtesy of ARA Content

As more Americans stretch their budgets in hopes of accomplishing more with less, many owners of half-ton pickup trucks are purchasing a snowplow to handle their snow removal. Owners who want to put their pickup truck to good use are realizing the benefits of using it as a working, snow-clearing machine.

Smart equipment designed for tough winter weather

Recently, the industry welcomed several new lines of full-sized, full-featured snowplows designed specifically for half-ton pickup trucks for light commercial, institutional and extended home use.

These new snowplows are designed for the weight restrictions of today’s half-ton trucks, and are surprisingly quick to attach and detach, making it easy to remove when not in use.

These new snowplows for half-tons offer similar features to the larger plows used by professional snowplow contractors, such as steel construction and fast, easy-mounting systems. Simple handheld controls allow the operator to hydraulically raise, lower and angle the plow from inside the cab. Many also offer an anti-theft device that allows the operator to electronically lock the snowplow while it is detached, making it inoperable to unauthorized users.

Snowplows for half-ton pickups are available at local truck equipment dealers that specialize in snowplow installation and set-up. Dealers can also provide accessories, parts and service, and answer questions about snowplowing.

Following are some basic snowplowing tips to guide new users through a successful winter of snow removal.

Plow tips: Proper planning

Prior to the first snowfall, stake the edges of the property to indicate the area that will be plowed. Marking the edges helps ensure you can plow safely and neatly without damaging the surrounding grass, landscape features or other obstacles. Without stakes, it can be difficult to determine the edges of the property. Available at landscape supply outlets, 30-inch wire stake flags are easy to insert into the ground and are tall enough to see, even with heavy drifting. Be sure to mark utility boxes and other objects such as gas meters and sewer vent pipes, along with any drop-offs and ditches, to help prevent injuries and costly damage.

Once the snow starts to fall, remember to keep drains clear and unobstructed, so melting snow has an easy, appropriate escape. Furthermore, when determining where to pile snow, think two snowfalls ahead by building snow banks far enough back to ensure room for future snow accumulation.

Some plow owners like to plan ahead for upcoming snowfalls by backing the truck into the garage with the snowplow already mounted, so when they open the door they can simply plow forward.

Plow tips: Safety first

While plowing, always maintain a manageable speed, generally no more than 8 mph. Traveling too fast can push snow onto the windshield, reducing visibility. In addition, although most plows are designed to “trip,” reducing the impact if an obstruction is hit, a slower speed will further reduce the potential for injury or damage.

In addition to maintaining safe speeds, you should also avoid overloading the plow blade with too much snow. The snow’s depth and water content should determine the width of your pass, or how much of the blade you use for each pass. The goal is to move just enough snow with each pass to get the job done efficiently without overloading your equipment. This is something you’ll get a feel for with experience.

Plow tips: Industry techniques

Stacking and back-dragging are two procedures used by snow contractors throughout snowy northern states. Stacking is simply creating a snow pile storage area. As you push the snow toward your predetermined stacking area, slow down and raise the blade as you push the snow into the pile. The blade will climb the pile as you push into it, forcing the snow upward. This will also prevent damaging underlying turf.

When plowing driveways with a garage or other outbuildings, a method for removing snow that accumulates close to the building is back-dragging. As the name indicates, back-dragging refers to pulling the snow backward, instead of pushing it forward. Begin by driving forward close to the building, lower the blade to the ground, then slowly back up approximately two car-lengths. As you do this, drag the snow back with you from behind the plow blade. Raise the blade and drive forward to the next pass, repeating this process for the full width of the area. When finished, turn around, back the vehicle into the area you just plowed, and push the accumulated snow to the designated snow bank.

To read more plowing tips, or for more information about the new full-sized, full-featured snowplows built specifically for half-ton trucks, visit

From the Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 5, 2010 issue

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