What Is The Difference Between Snow Plowing & Snow Removal?

white snow plow removing snow

It’s getting to that time of the year when the Christmas holidays are just around the corner, and snowfall is in the air. While the first snowfall is something we all look forward to, very soon, that snow can build up on sidewalks, parking lots, lawns, and walkways, requiring the need for snow plowing and snow removal services. You would think both of these services are the same, but they are not!

Snow plowing entails clearing up an area by pushing all the snow out of the way. The snow stays on the property but is pushed into a corner allowing easy and convenient access to the property. Snow removal, on the other hand, includes clearing up all the snow from the property and then carrying all that collected snow off-site. As such, snow removal services often cost more than snow plowing services and also require more equipment and labor.

If you are looking for snow contracting services for your residential or commercial property and aren’t sure about what service would be best for your needs, you have come to the right place. We will not only discuss the difference between these two services but also help you determine which one is best for you!

Snow Plowing vs. Snow Removal - Key Differences

You have likely done a quick online search for commercial or residential snow plowing services. That’s how you landed here! During your search, you would have also likely encountered the term ‘per push.’

Per-push refers to snow plowing services that include the use of a truck attached to a snow plow to clear and push away snow that is covering your property into a spot that is out of the way, easily accessible, and can be used for snow storage.

However, depending upon the amount of snowfall that occurs in the region you live in, you can quickly run out of space as to where to store all of that excess snow. If you own a commercial property that has acreage of space you wouldn’t have this problem, but if you don’t have space you will require the need for snow removal services.

Removing large volumes of snow requires additional equipment, labor, and multiple vehicles. As such, snow removal costs a lot more than snow plowing or per-push. Hauling off that snow and storing it in a snow storage location close by is also a lot more time-consuming.

That’s why it is essential to have a winter management plan for any commercial property you own. We will talk more about this in just a bit.

Here is a table that highlights the key differences between each service:

Category Snow Plowing Snow Removal
Scope of Work Involves clearing away snow with a snowplow by pushing it away from walkways, entrances, and parking areas. Includes clearing up snow with a snow plow and then hauling all of that snow to a location off-site.
Snow Storage Snow is stored in an easily accessible yet out-of-the-way area on the property. Snow isn’t stored but hauled away to be stored at a remote location off-site.
Equipment & Vehicles Needed Require a truck with a snow plow or a loader to push snow aside. Requires a truck with a snowplow, a large loader, and at least two trucks to haul the snow to the snow storage location.
Cost $25-$75 per hour $50-$200 per hour

Now that you have an understanding of what each of these services entails, let's see what would be the best option for your needs or situation.

When Should You Opt For Snow Plowing Services

Determining what option is best for your property requires taking into consideration the following factors:

The Size of Your Property
The larger the size of your property, the more likely it is to find a space for snow storage. You can easily dedicate a corner of the property to store all that plowed-up snow without it causing any harm or damage to the surrounding infrastructure.

However, the smaller the property is, the harder it is to find space for snow storage.

As such, if you have a large enough property with ample space for snow storage your best bet would be to opt for the more affordable snow plowing option.

Your Budget
If it is a matter of budget, snow plowing is by far the cheaper option. The only thing you need to be wary of is that you will still need a place to store all of that snow. This spot can’t be hard to get to either, as commercial plows aren’t the best when it comes to maneuvering around turns, corners, or obstacles.

For example, you can’t expect a commercial snow plowing service to push your snow to an obscure location on your property or shovel it all perfectly over a curb. While most commercial snow plowing services will happily push the snow over a curb on your property, usually with a heavy loader, they won’t be liable for any curb or infrastructure damage they cause while doing so.

So, always keep these things in mind. If you don’t have space on your property for snow storage, you may have no option but to pay more and get snow removal services instead.

The Amount Of Snowfall
A certain amount of snow has to fall for snow plows to work effectively. This is usually referred to as trigger depth.

If the trigger depth is about 1-2 inches, this is considered the ideal trigger depth for using a snow plow.

The higher the trigger depth, the more you will likely have to pay for snow plowing services, as the plow will have to push larger volumes of snow.

If ice has formed underneath, you might even need to call for a de-icing application which will cost even more money.

This is why it is best not to wait for the trigger depth to go beyond a couple of inches, as it will likely cost you more money to get it all cleared up.

When Should You Opt For Snow To Be Hauled? What Happens If You Don’t?

When snow is plowed, it can build up to a sizable volume. While you may find a spot to store it for now, when the next snowfall comes, you will have no choice but to get all of that snow hauled away.

If you choose not to hire snow removal services and let the snow pile up, it can damage parts of your property. The huge mound of piled-up snow can easily start encroaching onto walkways, parking spaces, and even entrances posing a hazard to visitors, employees, and customers alike.

While snow removal services may cost more, they are essential if you have no room for snow storage on your property.

As snow and ice pose a safety threat, you could easily be made liable for any injuries or harm caused to customers or employees while on your property grounds.

To avoid expensive lawsuits and a potential loss to the business, it is best to have a comprehensive snow and ice plan in place to ensure your commercial property stays accessible and safe even during the most extreme winter weather conditions.

man removing snow

Why Having A Comprehensive Snow & Ice Plan Invaluable For Your Commercial Property?

As a commercial property owner, you should always have a comprehensive winter plan worked out with a trusted and reliable contractor in your area.

If you don’t, you should consider looking for options. If it snows a lot in the area where you conduct business, not having the snow periodically removed or hauled away can make your place of business a lot less inviting to potential customers. This can cost you money and allow your competitors to gain a competitive advantage.

Having a season plan is a lot more cost-effective. Calling in snow plowing or snow removal services in an emergency can cost a lot more as it is a one-time job.

For example, snow plowing can cost anywhere from $50-$100, for small to medium-sized commercial properties, per visit. Whereas you can sign up for a season contract with a snow plowing and removal service company for as little as $200-$600, which covers you for the duration of the winter months.

The rate for season plans can vary depending on the size of the property and the frequency of the service required.

With an effective and comprehensive snow and ice plan, you can ensure your residential or commercial property stays snow-free and safe for all those who visit.

Different Types of Snow Removal Service Agreements

As we have already discussed, having a winter plan is essential to ensuring your property continues to operate without any downtime or safety concerns.

When negotiating a winter plan with a snow removal company, you will likely be given three options.

Seasonal Flat Rate Contracts
Many snow removal companies will offer a flat price for any type of snow plowing and snow removal services for the entire season. This guarantees that no matter how much snowfall you experience in the winter, you are locked in to pay just one price for regular snow clearing and removal.

Some companies may have a cap on the total number of service occurrences you can have in a month or throughout the entire season. Keep an eye out for such a clause and if you can’t find it ask the contractor.

Per Occurrence Price Rate Contracts
If the region you live in experiences light or occasional snowfall, this sort of agreement may prove to be more cost-effective.

In a per occurrence price rate contract, you and your chosen contractor will agree upon a “per occurrence rate.”

This could be anywhere from $50-$100 per visit or depending on the factors discussed above. They may also set conditions, such as a min. of one visit a month, or charge a small service fee to ensure their availability every time you call.

A Time & Material Plan
A company rarely offers a time and material plan, but if they do, it could be an interesting option to consider.

In this sort of plan, you will pay for the amount of time the contractor spends on your property and the materials used to clear up the ice and snow.

These plans can be highly specific and confusing, but if you understand the terms and conditions behind the agreement and find it favorable for your needs, this winter plan is as good as any.


Q) Can a snow plow remove ice?
A snow plow's primary function is to push snow and clear roads and walkways for vehicles and pedestrians. It can’t remove ice. The ice can make snow plowing a lot more difficult as the vehicle and plow have no traction to push the snow. To remove ice, you will need to call for a de-icing application or use rock salt to help melt away the ice.

Q) What is snow blowing?
Snow blowing works similar to the blower hose of a vacuum cleaner. It helps suck in all the loose snow and blow it out in the distance, making it easier to shovel snow from driveways and walkways.

Q) How can I remove a big pile of snow?
Apart from calling in the experts, you can use DIY methods to get rid of the pile of cleared-up snow. On a sunny day, you can cover the pile with black bags, which will melt the snow a lot faster. You can also use hot water to melt it but be wary as if it gets cold, that water can easily turn into ice.

Final Thoughts

Snow plowing and snow removal services require different types of equipment, vehicles, and manpower. Snow plowing services are also less expensive than snow removal services as the latter requires additional steps and requires more time and manpower.

Now that you have an understanding of what each of these services entails, you will know exactly what winter plan to go with for your residential or commercial property. Happy Holidays!

our service map

Get In Touch

Popular Contracting Inc is Boston's go-to reliable contractor for commercial and residential projects. Contact us for a free quote today.

Contact Info

20 Old Quarry Rd, Wrentham, MA 02093

(617) 233-0252 (Owen Cahill)

© Copyright 2023 Popular Contracting Inc. All Rights Reserved.