Snow plow or snow blower?

Old 09-21-14, 03:49 PM
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Snow plow or snow blower?

Living in the northern Rocky Mountain region, some winters can bring a lot of snow. It tends to be dry and powdery. I have a long driveway and I'd prefer not to shovel it by hand. I'm considering getting a walk-behind snow blower or putting a plow blade and tire chains on my John Deere L120 lawn tractor. As far as cost, based on my initial research it seems the blower option would only cost $150-$200 more.

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience or insight that could help me decide which option would be better. For example, I'm wondering if the tractor/plow would be ineffective past a certain depth.

Many thanks.
Old 09-21-14, 05:01 PM
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You have to have somewhere to put the snow when you plow, and with a little plow, the more you push, the higher it gets and snow piles off the left and right sides of the blade or over the top. Around here snow can't just go in the street, it has to stay on your property. After several snowfalls, those piles start getting tall. Sometimes 10-20' tall. (by means of tractor loaders or pay loader buckets) You can't really pile snow up with a blade on a lawnmower. They are ideal for light snows... maybe less than 3-5"... in places where it may not snow that often.

IMO a snowblower is far more effective, especially in dry snow. Large 2 stage blowers will blow a long ways and spread that snow out over a greater distance- especially if you can blow it with the wind (so that hopefully it doesn't blow back in a second time!) So with snow blowers you really don't end up with huge piles of snow, unless you somehow direct it all to the same spot.

After my dad got a snowblower, he actually preferred to walk back and forth down his lane with the snowblower rather than get on the tractor and use the bucket. Think he may have just wanted to use his new toy. LOL
Old 09-21-14, 05:39 PM
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I used a single stage blower for a number of years. My drive is slopped and I went down on my backside one to many times. Old age etc. I got a plow for my LT 160 and love it. I plow about 70 feet of drive and a 30 X 30 garage apron in short order and without bruising my bod.
If you get a plow attachment, be sure to also get a set of chains.
Old 09-21-14, 07:17 PM
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Skookumchuck -

It all depends on how much snow (and type) you get and how long your driveway is. In MT, I suspect a "'long driveway" could be very long.

In my experience, a walk behind snow blower is best, most versatile and convenient. I lived in different homes in different areas.

My first home was on a MN metropolitan city lot (60') including a vacant lot(60') that was on a corner with a sidewalk on only one side. The 2 car garage was parallel to the alley with a short approach that saw an average of 45-50" inches per year. My little single stage Toro "snow pup" handled it well. Nobody ever walked on the sidewalk, but a clean walk looked better.

My second home (in a snow area)was in northern MI with a 60' city lot but got and average of 100" of "sissy" snow (light and fluffy normally) with about 200" one year. I had a walk behind self propelled 8 hp over-kill blower. The (2-1/2 car) driveway was only 50' long that was slightly sloped, but it had an alley along the side of the garage that limited the throw areas. I had to get a blower that could direct the snow anywhere needed. It was rare to blow the sidewalk because the neighbors always seemed to plowed everything in sight ASAP as a daily competition. The self propelled auger was good to blow out the driveway when the city plows dumped everything (especially chunks) onto the driveway apron when they flew by at about 4 AM.

I always had walk behind mowers, so the riders were never a consideration, but seemed to be more of a hassle to keep in condition constantly summer and winter both.

Old 09-21-14, 07:23 PM
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I too lived in the Rockies, and experienced 6 years of winters there. Our gravel driveway was about 150' long, and had a gradual downward slope out to the road in front. A few neighbors used snow blowers, but my first (and only) weapon of choice was a 54" hydraulic plow on the JD 445. Both neighbors were living proof that snowblowers have the disadvantage of turning their operators into abominable snowmen during windy conditions, something I would never put up with. And we had lots of wind-driven snow, coming off the lake in front of the house. No restrictions on where it could be pushed, and my practice was to make individual passes all the way out to and beyond the road, dumping it over the steep bank on the open space land there. I also had the advantage of the driveway being cut into a side slope, with a 3' drop-off on one side, meaning I could push each pass towards that side and eventually over the edge.

For your situation, I'm not sure an L120 would have enough beans to push serious snow. The 445's 22 HP were challenged at times, and you'll definitely need chains and wheel weights--I even added a custom-built, 110-lb. plow weight to hold the front end down. In heavy snows, I had to hit it when not more than 8" or 10" built up--much deeper than that and I couldn't budge it, even though the drive wheels would spin furiously (it's a good way to dig nice symmetric holes in a gravel driveway). I always enjoyed plowing snow, and made a practice of doing at least 3 or 4 neighbors after finishing ours.
Old 09-21-14, 07:46 PM
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I live in San Diego and cannot comment on this.

I did grow up in the country though in Ohio and would have killed for a snow blower.
Old 09-22-14, 06:51 AM
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We plow the sidewalks in front of our units with an ATV with a blade on the front. If we don't start in the fall moving the snow 6-8' off the edge of the sidewalk, we'll have no room to put the snow in the spring.

A snow blower would be better.

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