The Cure for Driveway and Sidewalk Plow-In

If you hate having the city snowplow plow-in your driveway and sidewalk, sooth your jangled nerves with this simple solution.

Snow-covered street ready for the snowplow
Snow-covered street ready for the snowplow

The situation

Anyone who has cleared a driveway or street-side sidewalk of snow knows the aftermath of "plow-in" from City, Town, State, or other governmental agency snow-clearing efforts. You clear a beautiful path to the street for foot or vehicle access, and bam! The snowplow comes by and fills it back in. Plow-in, in other words. And it isn't the nice, pristine snow you recently labored to move. No sir, it is hard-packed, dense snow that's a booger to remove. Well, there's a slick trick that will reduce the amount of plow-in I'll share with you next.

The solution

Here's the reason for plow-in. As the plows move down the roadway, they push snow ahead and to the side of the snow plow itself. In most places, it piles up harmlessly alongside the road.

However, when the plow passes your hard-won opening, the snow moving ahead of the plow happily reclaims the lost space, and as the plow passes, it packs more on top. Nice, dense, nasty snow that makes a shoveler's back hurt to look at and challenges all but the most robust snowthrower.

The solution is simple, create a space, aka landing zone, for the snow to go other than your driveway or sidewalk opening. Depending on how energetic you feel, you can almost eliminate the problem completely.

Update: Regular commentator Clark B. uses a similar technique. As he puts it, he sets the landing zone up so the plow is "empty" by the time it reaches his driveway or sidewalk opening. I really like that description! Thanks, Clark!


1. Clear the end of the drive and sidewalk as per your usual method.

2. Shovel or blow a right-angle triangle on the roadway directly in front of the sidewalk and driveway.

3. Orient the triangle as shown in the following sketch so it overlaps your opening a foot or so. The more space, the merrier! You can also use a rectangle if you prefer for an even more effective landing zone.

Note: Your landing zone can be oriented with the base of the triangle towards the plow to catch the snow and "empty" the plow. To make it most effective, move the base of the triangle 3-4' upstream of your opening.

4. Enjoy NOT having to dig through plow-in snow!

Why does it work?

As I mentioned, the snowplow pushes snow ahead and to the side of it. The clear triangle provides a place for the snow moving ahead of the plow to go other than into your driveway or sidewalk. The snowplow pushes the snow past your openings, leaving a lot less for you to handle later.

Important Note

Many governmental entities providing snowplowing services prohibit residents from moving snow from their property into the roads and alleys. And, in many cases, will levy fines on those who do. Of course, they can move snow onto your property with impunity!

What does this mean to you and this strategy? Simple, as long as you are simply moving existing snow on the roadways to create your landing zone, you should be okay. Just be sure you don't add any from your property.

Be neighborly

In cases of deep snowfalls, creating your landing zone might also create a pile on the road that could impede your neighbors and others. Spread it about, so it stays relatively the same depth or wait for the first pass of the plow before going to work.

Did I say this can eliminate almost all plow-in snow?

Why, yes, I did. The bigger your landing zone, the less snow will fill in your opening. How big you make it is up to you, your back, or the capacity of your snow thrower.