John Deere's 4100 Series Front Snow Thrower attachment
When the weatherman starts predicting the next blizzard, we get a little shaky in our house. Armed with only two snow shovels and two middle-aged backs, our long driveway looks like a path to doom.
We've considered purchasing a snow blower, but we don't like the idea of having another piece of equipment to maintain and store, and we don't get a ton of snowfall in our area to begin with. We do have a lawn tractor, though, and so we thought it'd be worth seeing if the machine might serve double duty for us.
Most lawn tractor manufacturers have snow plow, or snow blower, attachments available. There are universal plow/blower attachments to be purchased as well, many for the price of a lower-priced walk-behind snow blower. It's not that hard, actually, to convert your lawn tractor into a snow removal machine. Just be aware there's a little more to it than putting on the attachment. But if you're prepared-with all your owner's manuals and manufacturer's instructions at your side-you'll be clearing your drive in no time.
Remove the Blade Deck. You'll need to remove the blade deck to make room for your bracket and attachment (and to give you extra ground clearance). Make sure to store your deck inside and away from the weather to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
Put Chains on the Back Tires. Most lawn tractors are not heavy enough to handle a serious snow removal job-without some help, that is. So put chains on the back wheels, especially for non-4WD tractors, to give yourself the extra traction you'll need. This is particularly critical if the area you're plowing is steep, narrow, or includes sharp turns.
Mount Bracket and Plow or Blower Attachment. Plow blades or blower attachments generally come with a bracket that attaches to your tractor first. Only once the bracket is in place is the attachment installed. Some brackets can remain on the tractor, allowing you to add or remove the attachment without tools-a serious time saver.
Attach Rear Weights. Some extra weight in the back of your tractor can help to keep you from slipping on icy or snowy terrain. You can add weight by attaching a weight bracket to the back of your tractor and adding weights to it, or by adding wheel weights directly to the rear tires.
In general, plow blades can get closer to the ground, and therefore remove more snow, than blowers. So when making your decision on the type of attachment you want, consider what kind of snowfall you get, and whether you have a problem with thawing and refreezing. If you find that you spend a lot of time in your new tractor-turned-snow remover, you can purchase a snow cab to keep yourself safely out of bitter wind and weather while you work.
Come spring, your tractor can be converted right back to its lawn-cutting duties, and you'll still have room in your garage for another toy. Power washer, anyone?
For more on snow removal, consider:
Salt vs. Sand to Prevent Slips
How To: Maintain a Snow Blower
10 Snow Shovels to Clear the Path (and Save Your Back)