In Boulder County, winter means snow. And depending on where you live, it might mean snowplows rolling up and down your street to keep the snow clear.In Boulder County, winter means snow. And depending on where you live, it might mean snowplows rolling up and down your street to keep the snow clear.
Although snowplows help us all get out of your house and to work after a big storm, they can create some challenges, too.
For one, you may be faced with a huge pile of snow built up in front your driveway or parked car. And every once in a while, snowplows can take out mailboxes and sprinklers, tear up landscaping, rip up the edge of your driveway and more.
Read on for tips on how to map out your property to minimize your risk for damage from snowplows this winter.
Understanding the Right-of-Way in Boulder County
One of the most important things to know when it comes to planning for snowplows is the right-of-way law in Boulder County.
This public right-of-way legally designates that the county has the right to clear the way for the public.
This can be as much as 32 feet on either side of the center line of the road. If parts of your property fall within the right-of-way, it could be subject to damage from snowplows, leaving you with a costly mess (not to mention no recourse for compensation).
(Pro-tip: You can contact Boulder County Transportation for help determining right-of-way on your street.)
With this right-of-way in mind, here are ways you can protect your property from snowplows the next time a snowstorm rolls through.
Map Out Your Property
Remember: anything in the public right-of-way is susceptible to snowplow damage.Here’s a shortlist of things that could be damaged by snowplows, and what you can do to protect them.
- Make sure your mailbox is 6” to 8” back from the curb (this is also required by the USPS).
- Put reflective tape or reflective address numbers on your mailbox. This allows the snowplow driver to see the mailbox in low-visibility conditions.
- Use a heavy metal post (instead of wood) to mount your mailbox on, and plant it deeply into the ground (at least 1 foot), with cement at the base for additional support.
- Remove snow directly around the mailbox (2 feet on all sides) before the plows come. This will make it less likely for large piles of snow to get pushed onto your mailbox and damage it.
- Use a mailbox snowplow protection product, such as Mailbox Buddy. It’s essentially a heavy-duty shield that you mount in the ground on the side of your mailbox. If a snowplow is on a path to hit your mailbox, the shield should deflect it.
- If your mailbox is damaged by snowplows numerous times, contact your local post office and request the option of setting it even further back from the road.
- If you have in-ground sprinklers along the street-facing edge of your lawn, place stakes with reflective markers near each sprinkler head.
- The markers should be at least 3 feet tall to remain visible once snow starts to pile up.
- Place reflective markers on stakes at regular intervals along the edge of your lawn to clearly mark the perimeter. This will help the snowplow avoid tearing up your sod and bushes with its blade.
- Install markers before the first snow of the season.
Driveway and Curb
- Just like the edge of your lawn, the edge of your driveway or curb could be damaged by a snowplow.
- The solution is the same: mark it!
- Fences, fire hydrants, your favorite lawn gnome, a Little Free Library—the closer these are to the edge of your lawn, the more likely they are to get hit by a snowplow.
- Keep them out of the right-of-way if possible. Otherwise, mark them if they’re in harm’s way.
The Magic Marker
Markers are one of your best defenses against snowplow damage.
If you have many features to mark, you may want some sort of system to know what’s what—especially once things get buried in snow.
This is where obvious color-coding can come in handy. Use green markers for grass and landscaping, orange for road-related hazards like the curb or your driveway, and red for important things like a fire hydrant and gas or electricity utility boxes and meters.
Blue is perfect for water utilities you want to mark. Finally, use yellow or another color for other items that don’t fit into an obvious category.
Color-coding can help you identify what’s underneath the snow, and can signify the importance of what’s there to the snowplow driver. Red is universally understood to indicate a priority hazard, while most drivers should recognize that blue designates water utilities.
What to Do After the Plow
The snowplow has come and gone—now what?
You’re probably looking at a driveway and sidewalks still covered in snow. And if the plow pushed a pile of snow in front of your driveway, you could be looking at a pretty big shoveling job.
Whether you don’t have the time or the energy to clear it yourself, or if a particularly steep driveway makes shoveling snow a nightmare, GSC can help. While we’re there, we’ll also be happy to give you tips on marking your property for those plows.