By Jason DeRusha

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Seventeen inches of snow over the weekend. Another couple of inches on the way. If you’ve been shoveling all that stuff off your driveway, perhaps you’re looking for another option. So what’s the cheapest way to clear your snow: Buy a new snow blower or hire a private snow plow service?

Judging from the lack of snow blower inventory at Twin Cities hardware stores, a lot of people are choosing the new snow blower.

At Frattalone’s Ace Hardware in St. Paul Tuesday night, Mike bought the last $1,000 7 HP Toro snow blower.

“This weekend’s snow put my own snow blower out of commission,” he said.

But for $1,000, how many private snow plows can you get?

“The snow business is excellent,” said Deanne Fritz, co-owner of Uptown Lawn and Snow, in Osseo and St. Louis Park.

According to Fritz, for an average two-car driveway, Uptown charges $25 a plow. They’ll do an entire winter season for $533, if they plow after 1-inch of snow.

“Eighty-eight dollars per month,” she noted.

So if you’re spending $1,000 on a snow blower, you could get 40 visits from a private snowplow, which is about two years worth.

How long will that new snow blower last?

“This will last at least 10 years with proper maintenance. I’ve seen it go 15 years with guys who are really studious,” said Kent Eernisse, manager of the St. Paul Frattalone’s.

Of course, there are added costs to the snow blower.

“You have to maintain it, you have to put gas, if it breaks, you have to haul it in a truck and pay $85 an hour for a small engine mechanic,” said Fritz.

At, Jeff Johnson from Edina wrote that “your best bet is to buy a snow blower and hire a neighborhood kid to use it on your driveway.”

The plow isn’t as expensive as Mike, the snow blower shopper thought it would be, but considering it’s lifetime value, “by far it’s a better deal in the long run and you’ll have a lot more fun with it,” said Eernisse.

WCCO-TV’s Jason DeRusha Reports

Comments (18)
  1. Lee says:

    I’d rather use my atv with a plow!

  2. Melissa says:

    Last weekend, I used our snowblower several times, and each time I said to myself “this is the single best thing our family has ever purchased!”
    I had to use it 4 times in order to keep our driveway clear enough to get in and out when we needed to all day, but I saw my neighbors get their driveways ‘plowed’ only for it to completely blow closed again within a couple of hours. They couldn’t even use their driveways until their service came back again….and that wasn’t anytime soon! I just pulled out our snowblower. It was awesome! We went through this same controversy several years ago and for us….SNOWBLOWER was the right answer!!!

  3. maple grove menards says:

    $1000 for a 7hp snowthrower? you can get an 11hp at menards for less than that

    1. Kaycee Taylor says:

      I’m with you. Menards rules!

  4. Kaycee Taylor says:

    “Cheaper” is not synonymous with “better.” You want a high quality product that has a fairly great life expectancy, with the potential for use in other applications. You also need to take into account the cost, etc., of the other resources you need to power the thing, and their availability where you’ll be using the appliance.

  5. Dave W says:

    I got a Yard Machines 10hp at Costco 11 years ago for $600. I have never had a problem with the engine and I have never changed the oil. I have replaced auger bolts, control handles and a cable, but was well worth the investment.

  6. T Larson says:

    Don’t forget about the shoveling option. It is cheap, except in very heavy snows, it is quicker than snow blowing, and it saves a trip to the gym.

  7. Shawn Reynolds says:

    agreed with the shoveling. best 4 1/2 hour workout i ever got shoveling my corner lot and driveway.

  8. qryptik1 says:

    @Dave W

    Time to change the oil!!!

    Also, shoveling can kill, especially with large snow falls.

  9. SCOTT says:

    One of my elderly neighbors had again set up to be plowed out. 20 plus inches later, this is yet to happen. It’s been four days of her parking in other neighbor’s driveways. I’ll give her an early Christmas present today by blowing out her drive. I hope that who she had hired shows up also, so the refund that I will get out of him will be a bonus present for her. Merry Christmas – watch the scams.

  10. Susan says:

    All of this info is fine and good unless you live in Saint Paul which is too cheap to do alley plowing, you have to hire out or do it yourself! With all this snow what snowblower goes thru this mess! 20 inches plus!

  11. Brenda says:

    Jason, thanks for the plug on Toro Snowblowers…I’ve worked at Toro in Windom for 21 years. With the amount of snowfall that MN has had already, we keep getting more and more orders for production. My father has had a Toro Snowblower for 23 years..he has taken good care of it with no problems.

  12. Billy says:

    $1000 bucks for a snowblower??? You can get a snowblower at fleetfarm for $100 bucks and it does a great job.

    1. Brenda says:

      I would not trust a “snowblower” that you only paid $100 dollars for…you get what you pay for!

  13. Mike says:

    The story forgot to mention the powerful feeling a guy gets as he sends that #@#@% snow flying off his driveway and into the air (or his neighbors drive).

  14. Bruce says:

    One problem with plowing is that there’s often no place to effectively put the snow – especially if your driveway is too narrow to push snow to the sides. A snow blower can at least throw the snow over the bank and far into the yard.

  15. hung says:

    Good old shovel if you’re young and strong

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