Keeping your driveway clear in snowy weather increases both your safety and your comfort. Snow removal can be tough on a paved driveway, though, so it's important to do it correctly. You have many choices, from the type of pavement you choose to different ways to make clearing it easier.
Asphalt driveways. Asphalt is less expensive than concrete and just as durable if you hire a skilled paving crew to install it. It does need resealing every one to three years, and annual resealing can help prolong it's life in areas with heavy snow. Asphalt is softer than concrete, so you will need to use caution to avoid gouging it with snow removal tools.
Concrete driveways. Concrete is virtually maintenance-free, as long as it is installed properly. It's often laid in slabs, so it's vital that the base is level and compact so frost heave doesn't damage it. It withstands mechanical snow removal, but salt-based snow melters and chemical de-icers will cause the concrete to pit and flake.
Safe Snow Removal
You have several options when it comes to snow removal. Some depend on the amount of snow, while others are better suited to certain driveway types.
Break out the snow shovel. Although labor intensive, a snow shovel won't damage concrete or asphalt. Make sure to mound up the snow off the edges of the driveway, especially with asphalt, so it won't damage the surface as it melts and refreezes.
Try out a snowblower. Snowblowers take less effort than a shovel, especially if you have a lot of snow to remove. They are safe on any type of drive, as long as you set the blades high enough. Setting them too low can cause them to gouge asphalt drives. Low blades that scrape the ground may even chip concrete if you use a snowblower often.
Get a plow. Small plow blades are available for riding lawnmowers, and they can make quick work of even the heaviest snowfall. Only opt for the plow if you have a concrete driveway, because they will gouge and damage asphalt.
Salt or chemical de-icers. It's best to avoid these entirely on concrete, and only use them sparingly on asphalt. If you must use a de-icer, opt for the chemical variety instead of salt. Make sure to rinse the drive with clear water as soon as the temperatures are warm enough, too. If you just need a bit of traction, sand is a better choice for both your driveway paving and for nearby plants.
Keeping your drive in good repair is a year-round concern, but winter is when your choices matter the most. Choosing the best material and combining it with proper snow removal helps ensure you won't have any unwelcoming surprises when the spring thaw arrives.