How Many Inches of Snow Before You Plow?

Snow. It’s beautiful and brings a sense of wonder when it falls. It can also be a major pain. Every winter a significant chunk of the U.S. must deal with snow and how to get it removed from their driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots. That’s where snow removal services come in.

Snow removal service can help you deal with snow on residential or commercial properties but if you’ve just moved to a cold weather state and are dealing with snow for the first time, how does it work? Let’s get an overview on how many inches of snow before you plow, factors in snow removal price, and how to hire a great snow removal service.

How Many Inches of Snow Before You Plow?

Minimum Amount of Snow to Plow

There are no standard limits on the minimum amount of snow to warrant plowing. While some homeowners don’t plow their driveway until they see at least 6 inches, your city or HOA might require you to plow when you reach certain thresholds including small dustings. If your city or HOA has a set amount – that’s your minimum amount.

For others, a general rule of thumb is to plow before it becomes difficult to use the parking lot, driveway, or sidewalk safely. For a construction site parking lot full of trucks this could be as high as 6 inches or a low as a dusting for standard lots. Many businesses don’t want snow to create hazards at all and call out the snow removal service for any trace of snow. Plowing after any snow, even small amounts, is the best way to reduce your chances of snow or ice-related injuries or issues.

Commercial Snow Removal Rates per Square Foot

Commercial snow removal rates per square foot are difficult to pin down without more information on what you need plowed. Going rates depend on the region, the demand for snow removal, and other physical factors.

Factors in Snow Removal Rates

  • Time to Remove Snow – How much do you need to plow? Due to different factors like volume or storms that continuously dump fresh snow, most snow removal services charge hourly rates as opposed to square foot rates. The larger your lot, the more time it will take. Like any other service a snow removal service may offer better rates for more work (time) though that depends on the company and your contract.

  • Volume – There are several types of snowfall and snowplowing contracts to match snowfall volume. It’s much more work to clear a parking lot of 16 inches of snow compared to 6, and prices per square foot will reflect that. Many snow removal services address volume in their contracts. For example, a removal company might charge you X dollars per square foot for 6 inches of snow or less, a higher rate for 6 to 12 inches, and a higher rate for 12+ inches.

  • Difficulty Factor – Did you hire a snow removal service after the snow in your lot has been compacted down to several inches of ice? Is your parking lot tricky with several nooks and tight turns? Most lots are large flat surfaces that are easy to plow but you might be charged more if the job is exceptionally difficult or requires more time than a normal lot.

Calling for a Quote

You can use these factors to craft a ballpark estimate on what you can expect to pay a snow removal company per square foot, or you can call one. Any reputable snowplow company can discuss your lot or parking area, what type of services they offer, how pricing is affected by different factors, and can give you a quote or schedule of quotes so you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay.

Finding the Right Snowplowing Company

If you need to hire a snow removal service, you need to consider the factors above to make a great hire. There are both shady and reputable snow removal services, so you need to do the research to find a great company. Use this checklist for a great hire:

  • Local – Hire a snow removal service that’s as close as possible. Every snow removal service plans their routes differently but you’re more likely to get efficient service from a service that doesn’t have to drive across town to get to you.

  • Good Reviews – Only hire companies with several positive online reviews from a variety of review sites. Use reputable reviews sites like Google, Angie’s List, and the BBB.

  • Insured – If the snowplow backs into a vehicle, you sure as heck don’t want to pay for it. Always be certain a snow removal service is fully insured before signing a contract.

Get Your Quote, Say Goodbye to Snow

How many inches of snow before you plow depends on your lot, its traffic, and many other factors but most businesses plow their lots after 2 to 3 inches. Snow removal rates vary by contract, environment, and more but you can get a free estimate by calling your local landscape or snow removal service. Get your quote, sign the right contract, and the next time snow hits you can relax instead of grabbing the salt and shovel.