Using a Tractor to Move Snow

673293When you need to do serious snow clearing, a big, purpose-built snow blower may be out of your budget, or simply too small to be up to the task. However, if you own a tractor, you may be an attachment or two away from having all the snow moving capability you need. Here are some ways you can equip your tractor to clear snow.

Snow Blades

A standard blade can be used to push snow around, gathering it into a pile, but it’s not an ideal solution.
The metal edge can damage sensitive surfaces including brick paths and granite walkways, and the blade shape and angle can keep it from pushing snow effectively. You may find that you have to constantly overlap passes to pick up snow that spread out from the blade on the previous pass.

Snow blades are shaped to roll the snow more effectively, and often have coatings that keep snow from sticking. They also come with plastic blade edges and skids that won’t damage pavement. By adjusting the skid height, you can have the blade scrape close against ice or push snow without picking up gravel.

Snow blades also have articulation to angle them left or right. This rolls and pushes the snow to the side of the machine. Cheaper options will skip the hydraulics, requiring the operator to stop the machine to make adjustments.

Depending on your tractor, you may need to add a front mount to use a blade, increasing upfront cost. However, this is still the most cost-effective option for snow clearing.

Snow Blowers

Single stage blowers have a single, high-speed auger that picks up snow and pushes it through a chute. Two-stage blowers have a slow speed auger that picks up large chunks of snow which are fed to a high-speed fan or impeller that breaks the snow into powder and pushes it through the chute.

When it comes to purpose-built machines, single stage blowers are limited to small jobs, while two-stage snow designs are the standard for commercial and large residential jobs. However, the added power of your tractor means that single stage attachments can remove snow as well as larger two-stage blowers without the added complexity and cost of an impeller. Two-stage attachments also have an advantage over stand-alone snow blowers because they use a chain drive to connect the auger to the transmission instead of using a gearbox between the auger and the fan. This makes them more durable and increases the amount of auger contact across the machine. Chute controls are optional on most attachments, letting you choose between electric or hydraulic assist to best fit the power sources available on your tractor.

These attachments are almost always rear-mounted, so they’re a little more difficult to operate than blades. However, their snow clearing ability easily surpasses walk-behind models, and since most models can throw snow 30-40 feet, you won’t need to overlap your passes to create a pile like you do with a blade.

For heavy accumulation, Woods makes attachments with two augers stacked on top of each other, increasing working height while keeping the overall attachment size small.

BCS walk-behind tractors can be used with the PTO facing front or back, so the snow blower attachments they offer are front-mounted, making operation similar to a standard blower. These attachments can match or exceed the performance of the largest stand-alone blowers, but they’re limited to use on the company’s larger models.

Front End Loaders

Can you use the bucket on your front end loader to move snow? Yes. Is it a good idea? Usually not. There’s no way to angle the bucket side to side, so the snow has to be repeatedly scooped and pushed to pile it up, increasing job times. It’s also hard to keep the bucket consistently above the ground without missing snow, which inevitably leads to lawn and even pavement damage. Unless you need to clean up a pile of snow gathered using other cleanup methods, you should avoid using your loader.

Power Sweepers

A snow blower or blade can get 99% of the snow, but the remaining layer can pack down, turning into ice. Power sweepers use flexible bristles that can scrape against pavement, removing remaining snow, whether left over from larger removal equipment or light precipitation.

Get the Tools You Need to Tackle Winter Weather

Shank’s Lawn Equipment has helped homeowners and commercial customers with their snow moving equipment for over 35 years. We’re a dealer for several major snow blower, tractor and attachment brands including Yanmar, BCS, and Woods so we can help you find the right combination of equipment for your snow clearing needs. Our shop is located at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, just off route 11. To get there from I-81, take Exit 10 to Marion.

Do you need parts for your snow clearing equipment? We ship across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit

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