How to pick a snow shovel and how to shovel snow

I lived near Green Bay, my parents are Yoopers (residents of  the Upper Peninsula–U.P.–of Michigan), and I now live in Southern Michigan. I know a lot about snow and snow removal. When it comes to clearing the walk or the driveway, there are several choices to do the job. There is a right tool for various quantities of snow and different snow weights. 

Blade Shovel

The classic blade shovel is what I grew up with. When snow is heavy and wet, this is the shovel of choice. Just slide it along the ground, get a bladeful of snow, and toss it over your shoulder. That’s the classic method. It gets the job done but is hard on the body. The technique involves bending and twisting and lifting–all in one motion. When the job is small and the user is fit, the blade shovel gets the job done.  When the snow is light and dry, this is a poor choice.  

Scoop Shovel

The scoop shovel is best for clearing the end of the driveway where snow plows have piled snow 12-24 inches high, or more.  The scoop holds a large quantity of snow and gets the job done with much persistence.  Just pitch the blade into the snow like it was a pile of dirt and heave it over your shoulder. That’s the classic maneuver.  The shoveling technique also requires bending, twisting, and lifting in one motion. This shovel is best for larger quantities of heavy snow in a small area.   


Ergonomic Shovel

 The ergonomic shovel was developed to help people avoid the inevitable back problems that arise from the continuous awkward technique of bending, twisting, and lifting. The shaft of the shovel is bent in the middle which allows the user to stand in a more upright position while shoveling. The bending portion of the classic technique is eliminated, and by adding a step, the twisting can be eliminated, too, making this a method to cause less stress on the body. The design is much like the blade shovel and is ideal under similar conditions for similar jobs.   

Push Shovel

 The push shovel was developed to eliminate all of the bending, twisting, and lifting involved in all of the other shovels. It is actually not a shovel at all, but just a plow as it is nearly impossible to lift any snow to toss in any direction.  The push shovel pushes snow–that’s it. When there is a snowfall of about 3 inches or less, this is by far the best snow removal tool to do the fastest job while saving much wear and tear on the body. Just walk behind and push the snow in whatever direction you need.  When the snow is heavy and wet, an inch accumulation is about all it can handle. 

Push Scoop

My favorite non-mechanized snow removal tool is the push scoop.  I like it best because it clears a wide path, it holds a lot of snow, and it is easy on the body.  Removing snow becomes an act much like mowing the lawn. Just push the scoop up and down the walk or driveway until the job is done. Push the handle to an upright position to empty the scoop, or slide it to an abrupt stop so the snow slides out of the scoop. Heavy or light snow in accumulations up to 5 inches are effectively and easily removed with the push scoop. The best part is there is no bending, lifting, or twisting as in all of the other shovels.

The older I get, the more I realize that shoveling snow with a traditional tool is a bad idea. The combination of bending, twisting, and lifting is just too hard on the body. Pushing or scooping snow is the way to go. Years ago, I used a flat shovel, graduated to the scoop shovel, advanced to the push shovel, never considered the ergonomic shovel, and prefer the push scoop.   

 Lately, we have been using the 2 person attack. I use the big push scoop, while my wife follows behind and clears any overflow with the push shovel.  We have a 9 car parking lot on a corner lot that we can clear by hand in under an hour when the accumulation is 3 inches or less.  Upon completion, we may be winded, but not sore.


Mike Venturini

Jonesville Michigan Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper

“Life is good in Jonesville”

Munro House Bed and Breakfast








Published in: on January 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So many snow shovels . . . so little inclination to shovel snow. Maybe you should consider an export + training business here in South Korea. These peeps could do with a lesson or two!

    • Yes, I am familiar with the snow shoveling situation in South Korea. It is virturally non-existent. People just plod through and continuously tamp it down until it is a thick wad of ice. Yep, a little training in the art of snow removal would go a long way over there.

  2. Hey There Munrohouse,
    Very interesting, Most electric snow shovels state they are great for patios; however, do they work well in driveways, too (3-6inches of snow)?
    Any experiences?????
    Nice One!

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