With the deep freeze and significant snowfall over the last few weeks—and more cold and snow in the forecast—many Canadians are finding themselves forced into participating in one of our national pastimes: snow shovelling.

Sometimes, shovelling snow seems like an evil necessity. But there are some hidden benefits among all that snow. For one thing, snow is moisture, and we can use it in our yards and gardens to our advantage.

Here are 5 ways to repurpose the snow you shovel from your sidewalk.

1. Use it as mulch

Because it’s dense, snow acts as an insulator. It’s why igloos and snow forts are warmer inside than they are outside.

Take advantage of this insulating quality by using the snow as a mulch of sorts. When shovelling snow off your sidewalks and driveway, put some of it to your garden beds. This can help protect your perennials by stabilizing soil temperatures and by providing moisture when temperatures occasionally rise.

Be careful though. The shrubs in your flower gardens might be brittle from the bitter cold. Try to direct the snow as close as you can to the soil and the plant base. Also, avoid snow near roadways to prevent road salt from getting in your flower bed.

2. Water your shrubs

When clearing your sidewalks, relocate some of the snow to your shrubs, bushes, and trees. Not only will it help insulate their roots (as we mentioned above), but as the weather warms, the melting snow will provide extra moisture for these plants.

Oh, and while you’re at it, brush snow off your shrubbery, especially if it’s heavy, wet snow. This can prevent breakage from the added weight.

3. Consider a windbreak

If you receive a lot of snow, use some of it as a wind break. Pile it against a chain link fence or some hedges as a way to protect your home and yard from wind damage.

4. Add it to your compost

Compost piles benefit from moisture, which encourages decomposition. If you find that your compost pile is often dry, add snow. As the weather warms, the melting snow will inject much needed moisture. Keep an eye on it though. Too much moisture can be problematic for compost, so try to turn it once things begin to warm up.

5. Add it to your garden

Add snow to your vegetable garden. This will provide necessary moisture for spring germination. Plus, as the snow slowly melts, it will encourage the moisture to penetrate deep into your garden soil, where it will wait for the seeds you will plant. This will give your vegetable garden a head start.

Plus, as snow develops in the atmosphere and falls to the earth, it brings with it atmospheric nitrogen. That nitrogen can end up in your garden soil if you add snow to your garden. A proper balance of nitrogen and carbon is critical for ideal garden soil conditions.

Remember, when you’re shovelling snow, protect yourself from the cold and from improper posture.

Do you repurpose snow that you shovel from your sidewalk? Let us know how in the comments.