How to Efficiently Plow a Parking Lot

Created June 1, 2016

Western plow plowing street of snow

Parking lots are crucial areas to plow, so you’ve got to develop an efficient system to get the job done well and move on to the next one as quickly as possible. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Prepare Before the Winter Season

Make sure you’re familiar with the property. Stake off areas of the lot that could be damaged by plowing. Also be aware of areas or objects that will be hidden once the snow falls, such as speed bumps, fire hydrants, etc. All customers and properties are different, and they may have some specific requests, such as a minimum plowable snowfall, the snow pile location, or if they want walkways and doorways cleared and/or salted. Again, this should all be determined before the winter season begins.

When to Start Plowing

In a perfect world, you’re plowing the parking lot when the business is closed, and the lot is empty, but you won’t always have that luxury. As always, be very careful of customers, cars, and property, especially if the business is open. Go slow when people are present to allow adequate time to stop if someone enters your plowing path.

The Proper Width for a Plow Pass

Use your best judgment based on the condition of the snow, but try to remember the following rule of thumb while plowing so you do not overload your plow blade. If there is approximately two inches of snow on the ground, plow with the entire plow blade, and if there is around four inches, use three-fourths of the blade.

How to Clear Snow From the Lot

For your first pass, begin by clearing along buildings, pushing the snow away from the building. Continue making passes away from the building in as long and as straight lines as possible. The goal is to clear the lot in the fewest number of passes and using the designated snow pile locations for that property. Reference the customer contract if necessary.

If possible, snow should be piled away from the building and, ideally, downhill and downwind to minimize drifting. Never pile snow on sidewalks, doorways, shrubbery, mailboxes, fire hydrants, or other structures. Some customer contracts may require you to stockpile snow and remove it from the site entirely, especially if the lot has a limited number of parking spaces.

De-ice Before you Leave

Ensure all areas of the lot are plowed and/or salted according to your contract. Check for clumps of snow or “hard pack” left in the parking lot, and remove them. Clumps can freeze and be dangerous to customers or a nuisance for you the next time you plow. Salt these areas per the contract to avoid injury hazards or damage.

Your business is built on your reputation; so when you leave the property, make sure you can look back and be proud of the work you’ve done. It makes a difference, and your customers will notice.

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