How to avoid a driveway filled with snow

LINCOLN – Don’t you hate it when you spend hours shoveling out your driveway after a storm and a county plow comes along and fills it back in?

The reason could be you are shoveling out your driveway incorrectly, county officials said Monday.

Or blame it on the company you hired to plow your drive, they said.

“All the snow that homeowners push out of their driveway to the right, we push back into the driveway,” Jesse Campbell, managing director of the Alcona County Road Commission, said.

A backup plow driver, Campbell said, doesn’t mean to do it. It’s just when there is a pile of snow along the right side of a drive, a plow blade picks it up and drags it across the mouth of the entrance, so the resident has to shovel again.

The secret to less work is two-fold, especially with more snowstorms on the way.

As you are facing your home from the road, imagine your mailbox positioned to the left of your driveway, Campbell said. This protects it from excessive, winter-time damage.

Then, clear out a 10- to 15-foot tapered area along the shoulder to the right side of your driveway, pushing all of the snow to the left behind the mailbox, he said. That way, the plow blade has little or nothing to pick up as it passes your driveway, other than snow from the road.

Plow drivers cannot maneuver plow blades or wings easily in winter because the undercarriage becomes packed with ice and snow, Campbell said. They also cannot do custom plowing as they roll down the road because it is too time-consuming.

“People think the plow is going to stop or slow down because of the mailbox on the right, but that causes extra snow to be put in that drive,” Jerry Smigelski, manager of the Presque Isle County Road Commission, said. “If there is a clean area before the driveway, there isn’t any snow to come off the snow plow blade or wing.”

A cleared area also makes it safer for motorists to exit out of their driveways. Their view of the roadway isn’t blocked by banks of snow.

“It doesn’t prevent the problem,” Smigelski said. “I’ve had my mailbox and post sheered off by the plow. But if I can get the snow removed before they plow, it helps.”

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.