Introduction: Clear Snow the Laziest Way Imaginable

Picture of Clear Snow the Laziest Way Imaginable

In the true Olympic spirit I wanted to test a truly effortless method of clearing snow off your car, steps or driveway that even Homer would be proud of. This is a concept that I've wanted to try out for over a decade and finally got around to it. I found a few links and videos that describe the method (after the fact); so this is not an original idea. The idea is very simple: put out a tarp or plastic sheet prior the snowfall and pull it away at a strategic time. The original concept was to have a really giant tarp which covers the driveway (cars), walkways and steps which could be pulled into the street with a vehicle. This is actually against the law in most jurisdictions (transferring your snow onto the street). So if you are going to do this, you'll need to figure out a way to pull it into your yard.

If you try this please let me know how it went and expect people to think you are crazy (check out the guy stopped in his tracks in the animated gif above!).

***Safety Warning: The tarp or plastic sheet is extremely slippery when covered in snow. Make sure that any potential pedestrian doesn't take a major spill on your property!***

Step 1: ITEMS

Picture of ITEMS

All you really need is a tarp, plastic sheeting (even the bag your mattress came in). I needed the firewood to keep the tarp from flying away and the twine is to provide some towing options.

Step 2: Tying Off the Tarp

Picture of Tying Off the Tarp

The fully scaled version of this concept will cover a lot more ground, and I was considering using my van to pull out the tarp. If you get to that scale you should consider a more robust tarp tie off (wrap a ball in the corners and tie around the ball or rock as explained in this book and image). In this case I just used the existing grommets with a couple lengths of twine. The name of the knot is a "Lark's Head" (thanks to mhjii for the name).

Step 3: Laying Out the Tarp

Picture of Laying Out the Tarp

You basically want to cover the area in question and make sure the tarp does not fly away. If you are covering a car you could use some bungee cords to tighten around the bottom; I used some firewood to keep the tarp down in this case. After there was a good coat of snow down, I pulled out all the logs so I didn't have to deal with them later. I tied the twine onto the handle of a shovel so I wouldn't have to dig around to find them after the storm.

Step 4: Let It Snow and Yank It Out

Picture of Let It Snow and Yank It Out

If you scale this up to cover a wider area, you may end up needing some serious horsepower to move the snow. I envisioned using a car to pull the load into the street, but this is not legal and has many potential safety issues. The best approach would be to pull it onto your yard somehow.

Let me know if you try this out or if you have a variant on this approach; and remember spring is just around the corner.


fred23 (author)2016-03-23

this is ingenious!

avayan (author)2016-01-26

HAH! Man, this is a good one. I don't live in Snow Land anymore but I ever move back will definitely give it a try. I see a bunch of people have criticized the concept, but hey, you were shooting for the laziest way imaginable and at the moment I can't imagine a lazier way, so you are winning ;-)

Renard_Bleu (author)avayan2016-02-14

Thanks, most people that are criticizing haven't tried it... thanks for the comment.

daleink (author)2016-01-26

I tried something similar with my wife's minivan. Backed it in the driveway, then put a 12' x 16' tarp on top tucking in the front on the 2 doors, then draping it over the back with 2 heavy weighted bags to keep it from blowing away. After the storm, I cleaned out in front of the van, then dusted off the doors and pulled out the sections of tarp and started up the van. Just drove it out slowly and all of the snow came off w/the tarp. Will try and do an Instructable next snowstorm. It was a real time saver, especially cleaning off the top of the van which is a law to do in my state.

Renard_Bleu (author)daleink2016-02-14

Great! thanks for sharing. enjoy the rest of winter!

NapoABC (author)daleink2016-01-26

Just FYI, that's a great way to scratch your car.

daleink (author)NapoABC2016-01-26

Thanks, but it's a 2006 Dodge Caravan. If I cared about every scratch on it, I wouldn't have tried it. It didn't add anything more to the process than a soft broom would have. Clean up was the same.

dharper2 (author)2016-01-26

Oh, no. My mother would have never let me do this back in the day during various Kansas blizzards. It was shovel or die, where she was concerned. <laughing>
Good "ible". Thanks.

Renard_Bleu (author)dharper22016-02-14

I am glad you survived. thanks for the comment!

lbrewer42 (author)2016-01-26

Probably works very well in places getting the average snowfall most places do. Places that have school off the next day when they get an inch or so.

But places where is a winter where 2-3 feet per (many) storms is not unusual would have to beef up the tarps, ropes, and definitely use a car to pull the stuff out of the way (and try to find a place to put it). Years ago Erie, PA would empty plowed snow piles from parking lots by trains to Florida. They had to find a way to make space to put more plowed snow piles. The Erie newspaper would show pics of kids in Florida playing in it.

Renard_Bleu (author)lbrewer422016-02-14

i can really picture it, great anecdote! They pile it high in fields here and some years it almost lasts through the summer. thanks for the comment

mickryobe (author)2016-01-26

I am patient.

I know by August the snow will be gone.

Renard_Bleu (author)mickryobe2016-02-14

That works great as long as your other car is a snowmobile and your job is Trapper! i am looking forward to that stage of MY life. thanks for the comment.

wfidrock (author)2016-01-26

Just be careful when using a plastic tarp on your walkway / steps / front porch as this is a major slip hazard....

Renard_Bleu (author)wfidrock2016-02-14

ooh, great comment, and very true. i updated the instructable right after i saw your comment. thanks so much!

schlem (author)2016-01-26

Thumbs up for Lily Allen!

Renard_Bleu (author)schlem2016-02-14

nice, she happens to be an artist that isn't blocked on youtube. great tune too.

amwill (author)2016-01-26

brilliant...absolutely it lol

Renard_Bleu (author)amwill2016-02-14

great, thanks for the comment!

carver166 (author)2016-01-26

I can tell you, from experience, this works GREAT!, until you step on the tarp. You'll go down like a shot! Just be sure that no-one can do so accidentally, or you'll have a major liability case.

Renard_Bleu (author)carver1662016-02-14

oooh, great comment, and very true. i updated the instructable right after i saw your comment. thanks so much!

GordonS6 (author)2016-01-26

Many years back (1960s), I lived in Northern Illinois where we got frequent and plentiful snowfall. I would shovel out my driveway very early in the morning, then the city snow plows would block my driveway again when they plowed the street....with a lot more snow than I had blocking the driveway to begin with. One morning I was running late and didn't want to take the time to reshovel the I decided to melt the snow with gasoline. I poked holes in the snow, poured in the gasoline, stood back a little and struck a match! I got considerably more than I bargained for, as the gasoline literally exploded, blowing snow and flaming liquid everywhere! I was lucky none of the flames struck me! The small fires died out quickly and my driveway was again passable, but I never tried that again!

Renard_Bleu (author)GordonS62016-02-14

eesh, i'm happy you made it out alive. thanks for sharing!

dontno (author)2016-01-26

Nice Ible for a small amount of light snow. Up in the north country we get, rain, sleet, snow, with thunder and lightening all mixed in together, on top of blizzard conditions. I'd rather use my snowblower and link up with my neighbors, for some libation, and good times when the work is done. Embrace the winter. don't curse it!

Renard_Bleu (author)dontno2016-02-14

definitely depends on snow conditions. great comment, thanks!

NealP3 (author)2016-01-26

Was looking at doing this for my driveway. Trick is to place a blue tarp, as pictured in the demo above on the driveway, weights with bricks on the edges. Then you place an oilskin tarp on top. It will freeze up but allow you to fold the edges up against the side of the house. In the morning, before the lows come by, you simple attach the ropes through the grommets (or do this before hand) to the rear bumper of your Jeep (if you have a Jeep). While the car is warming up, you attach bunnies between the side grommets to form walls (oil-skin tarps are great for this), then simply drive down the road and allow the snow to slowly trickle out, or in a hurry, once the tarp is on the street, simply reverse over the tarp, backing into a clean drive. Does not eliminate the requirements for shovelling, but at least puts it all together in a nice neat roll.

Renard_Bleu (author)NealP32016-02-14

you've executed my dream! bravo, i would like to see that in video along with the faces of your neighbours. thanks for the comment

skeleton1 (author)2016-01-26

I haven't tried this, but I suspect that maybe a large black plastic tarp simply laid over the new snow in the morning might absorb warmth and melt the snow just from the warmer daytime temperature, especially of the sun shines.

mnorth (author)skeleton12016-01-26

That's an interesting idea but I would worry that it would just cause there to be more ice underneath once the water freezes at night.

Renard_Bleu (author)mnorth2016-02-14

It is usually cold enough where we live so that we dont get a layer of ice form. (no melting so no water to freeze).

Renard_Bleu (author)skeleton12016-02-14

Many of us dont benefit from "next day warmth"... I would suspect the benefit of capturing sun rays would be partially offset by wrapping up the snow : the plastic will get warm but the trasnfer to the snow would not be very efficient. soot can melt glaciers though. thanks for the comment.

mnorth (author)2016-01-26

I wouldn't call this lazy. True laziness often has the end result of more work to do rather than less. Once there's more work to do a lazy person chooses not to do it at all.

Renard_Bleu (author)mnorth2016-02-14

So deep! thanks for the comment.

blubonnet (author)2016-01-26

I have done this on my car windows and windshield for years. Well, this year was SnowZilla 2016 and I noticed that my neighbors were following my method. Sure helps. We live in townhouses and there is no way to move 30+ inches of snow and put it in a yard but it sure helps to clean the windows :) Good luck! BTW, the alcohol in water with some soap described below works nicely on porch and walkways :) Just gotta stay ahead of the snow depths. Since it snowed most of the night and then all day Saturday, the only area I was successful with was the porch.

Renard_Bleu (author)blubonnet2016-02-14

thanks for the comment, the liquid solution has generated a huge volume of comments

mistymissesu1 (author)2016-01-26

This only works with fluffy snow, heavy packing snow would rip the tarp if you tried to pull more snow load. Snow can be pushed, not lifted to get it out of the way. Just buy a much bigger shovel. Sand works great to make it grippy and not slippery. A layer of salt before the storm will melt the first layer, but then it can refreeze after dark into solid ice! Windshield wiper fluid is toxic to pets and attractive to them because of its sweet odour: don't recommend it. Yep, I live in Canada!

definitely not for every snow situation. you'll be shoveling after a big dump regardless. thanks for the comment

darius munoz (author)2016-01-26

Do what my good friend, Dom Tambuatco in No. Carolina did! Since God put the snow on his driveway, let God take it out!!!

Renard_Bleu (author)darius munoz2016-02-14

That will eventually work... thanks for the comment

Mark 42 (author)2016-01-26

Laziness is the mother of efficiency.

Renard_Bleu (author)Mark 422016-02-14

Agreed. Thanks for the comment!

hippiechk (author)2016-01-27

I have an old blanket I toss out on my steps when we are expecting a dump. It is generally dry here so it shakes off easily most of the time. Maybe its lazy, I am near 60 & actually could not care less what anyone else thinks of my actions, it works!

Renard_Bleu (author)hippiechk2016-02-14

Great! thanks for the comment

AsherandSam (author)2016-01-27


Renard_Bleu (author)AsherandSam2016-02-14


a1mymail10 (author)2016-01-27

I would really say it was lazy, but I do think it was SMART! :)

Renard_Bleu (author)a1mymail102016-02-14

Thanks! it sure has generated a bunch of commentary.

Rehcaet (author)2016-01-26

What happens if your walkway is 45 feet long and four feet wide? Get 20 tarps and hope you do not get wet heavy snow that freezes over night?

skiwolf9 (author)Rehcaet2016-01-26

Why would you need 20 tarps for 45 feet, when 2 - 20's probably would do the trick? 45 feet long? Turn on a hose, flood it down, and get the blades on and have fun.

Renard_Bleu (author)skiwolf92016-02-14

why fight winter! thanks for the comment

About This Instructable




Bio: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.
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