Winter Is Around the Corner - Are You Ready?

A frosty leaf laying on green plant matter.

Every year, it seems as though winter just creeps up on us. During fall, we get mesmerized by the bright-colored leaves and forget it won’t be long before they're replaced by cold and snow. Don't repeat the same mistake this year. Take care of these tasks before winter really takes hold.

Get the Leaves Off the Ground

Unfortunately, you have to get rid of the leaves, so consider a leaf blower. They’re available in electric- and gas-powered models (the electric ones are much quieter) and can save you hours of work and an aching back.

When choosing one, consider the volume of air the unit puts out. Most blowers have a rating from 350 to 600 CFM (cubic feet per minute). The more powerful the unit, the faster it will do the job.

They can range in weight from 5 pounds all the way up to 25 pounds. If you feel a heavier one is better for you, make sure it comes with a shoulder strap. A great option on some blowers is a vacuum feature, allowing it to suck up the leaves (often shredding them at the same time), which ultimately makes them easier to gather and bag.

Get a Snow Blower

Better to do this shopping now than wait 'til there's snow on the ground. There is a snow blower to suit virtually any property and kind of winter condition. For a small pathway, where snow is only an occasional issue, consider a single-stage, electric blower.

These will clear 2–3 inches of snow in a path about 24 inches wide, and, since they’re electric, they start easily and are relatively quiet. They can’t handle deep snow, however, and they cut such a narrow path as to make clearing a long driveway take quite some time.

A gas-powered, single-stage blower can handle deeper snow and works much more quickly than a smaller, electric model. Such blowers have around 5HP. If you have a large drive or live where snow comes in large amounts, consider a larger, two-stage, gas unit (up to 12HP) with a path of up to 30 inches. On a two-stage unit, the front blades gather the snow and feed it to an auger (the second stage) that throws the snow. The downsides to these large units are their weight (up to 100 pounds) and the noise they generate.

Pick Up a Shovel

Even small snow blowers don’t work on stairs or narrow walkways, so you still need a snow shovel. Avoid plastic shovels without a reinforced blade, because they're light and will break or wear quickly. To find a shovel that’s right for you, take your snow-shoveling mitts along and try a few in the store before selecting one. Ergonomic shovels have a bend in the handle and may look funny, but they actually take a lot of strain off your back.