Even the most experienced snowplow drivers can have a problem with gravel drives or parking lots. Plowing gravel driveways and surfaces is actually more art than a science.
Gravel drives and surfaces offer a great many more obstacles than paved surfaces, and each area tends to be unique. There can be wheel ruts along a drive with a crown in the center. There can be potholes just about anywhere in the plowing path. There can also be areas where the driveway is tilted side to side, or up and down, which can cause the plow to dig into gravel or even the earth itself. And gravel drives, which are more often found in rural areas, tend to be curvier than paved drives.
Before the first snow fall of the season, a gravel driveway or parking lot should be scouted and notations made as to where these kinds of problem areas exist.
The biggest challenge in plowing a gravel surface is picking up gravel and transporting it to a snow pile or spreading it to surrounding grassy areas or a lawn. On relatively flat surfaces, put shoes on your plow, and adjust them so the plow’s blade is between a half-inch or so above the ground. This will prevent you from digging into gravel in most cases. However, you should also use your senses and go slow. Speed kills when you’re plowing a gravel drive or parking lot.
If you like to work with the radio or music on, this is the time when silence is golden. Turn the radio or music off so you can hear gravel clinking against the plow. You’ll also be able to feel if the plow is digging into the earth on either a crown or a grassy or earthen edge. When you start to hear or feel anything unusual, make adjustments to the height of your plow or the plow path immediately.
Gravel parking lots tend to be relatively level, so keeping the plow slightly higher is all you can really do. However, residential drives can offer myriad problems, especially for the novice.
During a heavier snow event, plan to make multiple passes along a driveway lowering the blade a little each each time.
Start at the center and traverse the entire path of the driveway to the place where you plan to pile snow. Move to the edges and slowly work the snow to either side using either a V-shaped plow or a straight plow with the edge tilted so it trails outward.
Continue making multiple passes in this manner working your way downward with each pass. Only plow about a half or less of the overall width of the drive with each pass to either side.
Plowing in this manner prevents you from making mistakes like tearing up great mounts turf or spreading gravel unnecessarily. The wheels of your truck also compact the snow which also helps eliminate the problem of picking up gravel.
This is almost counter intuitive from a paved surface, where you want to eliminate icy patches that are created by a vehicle passing over an area multiple times. The packed snow acts as a buffer against the underlying gravel or earth.
You might also want to wait until the first snowfall sits and packs down before plowing, which is also runs contrary to what you would want on to do on a paved surface. This allows your plow to ride along the top of the snow or ice, while still creating a relatively clear driving surface.
If you would like more information on tricky plowing situations, don’t be afraid to ask your local Meyer dealer. They have the answers or know people in the industry with the knowledge and experience to answer your questions.