9 Benefits of Pull-Behind Graders (plus purchasing and care tips)
Gravel driveways are a great choice for many people. Not only is gravel cheaper than asphalt, but it is also one of the simplest eco-friendly driveway options since it allows water to soak into the ground naturally. Additionally, a gravel driveway with a well-constructed foundation can last up to 100 years if properly maintained!
However, while gravel driveways are great, their maintenance can be expensive and time-consuming. And without proper maintenance ruts and sinkholes start popping up making your driveway more like a row of rumble strips than a roadway.
If you own a gravel driveway or parking area, you have likely experienced the frustration of needing to purchase gravel every year and deal with potholes, weeds, and overall high maintenance.
Want to keep the benefits of a gravel driveway without the frustration?
Enter the pull-behind grader!
In this article, we will address why you might need a mini pull-behind grader and cover nine benefits of owning one.
What Is a Pull-Behind Grader?
A pull-behind grader is a piece of equipment used to maintain gravel driveways, parking lots, and roads.
It does this by scraping up packed gravel, leveling rough areas that would eventually become potholes, and smoothing the surface. In other words, it takes care of issues before they surface.
Although their overall function remains the same, pull-behind graders are diverse in size, design, and details. They come in a wide array of sizes, ranging from small ones only a few feet long (for driveways and parking lots) to large ones that are over twenty-five feet long and used to grade gravel roads.
Graders also vary in the way they are built in everything from blades and rakes to wheels. For example, a variety of blades, rakes, and scarifiers can be used for different grading depths and finishes. Larger graders are designed with two to four wheels. You can adjust these wheels, allowing for grading at different depths and easy transportation. While some small graders have wheels, the simpler versions generally don’t. Small graders, like ATV driveway graders, are a great option for regular, surface-level grading.
This variety means there is a grader out there that fits your needs! Choosing the right one is just a matter of understanding the task you need to complete.
Why Do I Need a Grader?
Just because a piece of equipment is useful doesn’t automatically mean you need to purchase one for yourself. However, a mini pull-behind grader is arguably one of the best maintenance tools for a gravel driveway. If you own a sizable gravel driveway or parking lot, it's probably worth investing in one. Investing in one may save you a good deal of trouble later.
A good way of determining whether you need a grader is to assess the benefits of owning one along with the potential difficulties that come with not purchasing one.
Let’s take a look.
9 Benefits of a Pull-Behind Grader
Without grading, gravel becomes packed down and pushed to the sides and new gravel is needed to deal with erosion and potholes. Unfortunately, by taking this approach and adding new gravel each year, lots of gravel gets wasted.
Adding new gravel every year isn’t necessary! Regular grading scapes up the gravel that has become packed down through regular use, extending its usefulness and cutting back significantly on waste. Not only does this mean less cost to maintain your gravel driveway, but it also means less environmental impact from gravel mining.
2. Fixes potholes
Potholes are the bane of gravel driveways, roads, and parking lots. And nobody likes the bouncy ride you get on a gravel lane full of potholes!
Who's the culprit behind pesky potholes? Poor drainage and a faulty foundation are the most common reasons for persistent potholes. If you have this problem, you should start by making sure your driveway has a quality foundation and proper drainage. Without this, fixing potholes is a bit like taking painkillers so you can keep using a sprained ankle.
If your driveway has good drainage, potholes shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, heavy rains, snow, and the regular freeze/thaw cycle still cause a few.
Grading is a simple, easy way to fix potholes. While your first instinct may be to simply fill in a pothole, this doesn’t fix the problem well. As the pothole is formed, the gravel along the edges and floor of a pothole becomes tightly packed. This causes any new fill material to be pushed out by vehicles traveling over it. The only way to properly fix a pothole is to break down the compacted sides and relevel the area.
A grader’s blades do this easily, reshaping the pothole without needing new gravel.
3. Levels surfaces
Grading your driveway levels rough surfaces, preventing erosion and the formation of those annoying potholes. Any driveway that is used regularly begins to develop uneven surfaces. Tires compact the gravel creating indentations. Farm equipment, like plows and rollers, can gouge or compress areas. Horses create sharp indentations with their hooves, especially when they paw impatiently.
While uneven areas are a cosmetic concern, they also increase the risk of greater damage to your driveway, your vehicles, and even your health. Uneven areas are places for water to lay or run through increasing the risk of erosion and potholes - a dangerous feature for a parking lot. Over 50,000 parking lot accidents happen each year. This statistic helps us to realize that maintaining your parking lot (especially for a business) really is an important and sometimes a matter of employee and client safety.
By regularly grading your driveway, you smooth uneven surfaces and improve water runoff, increase curb appeal, and maintain a safe environment for your employees and customers.
4. Flexible towing options
Pull-behind graders often have a few towing options. Considering the size and weight of the grader along the type of hitch, trucks, and tractors are the most common choices for medium to large graders. Weighing only about 121 pounds, mini pull-behind graders can be towed by a variety of small equipment.
The mini pull-behind grader works wonderfully as an ATV driveway grader. A full-sized ATV can haul an average of 1200 pounds - well beyond the weight of the grader! Pulling the grader with your ATV is a great way to turn work into fun!
- Lawn mowers
Both walk-behind mowers and rider mowers can easily and effectively tow the mini pull-behind grader. No need to buy new equipment to use your grader!
Tractors are the trusty, go-to for graders of any size. Although you can pull a mini grader with a large tractor, smaller tractors work best.
Do you use horses regularly or have a pony for your kids? Horses, ponies, and mini horses can easily and effectively pull the mini grader!
5. Less wear on vehicles
A poorly maintained driveway results in more vehicle wear in several ways. Not only does bouncing along over potholes put greater stress on your vehicle’s suspension, but it also causes tire issues, misalignment, and, in severe cases, bent rims.
Potholes and deep erosion are the largest and most apparent culprits. The more severe and immediate damage is usually a result of one of these two. However, just because the damage isn’t immediately noticeable doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Slow tire leaks and premature suspension issues can result from rough driveways.
Grading not only helps you save money on gravel, but it also helps you save on vehicle maintenance costs!
6. Weed removal
Weeds are a common concern for anyone with a gravel driveway or parking lot. They are often persistent, hard to deal with, and quickly make a gravel area look unkempt.
Hand weeding takes a lot of work and methods like pesticides aren’t the greatest option if you have kids or pets. If you want to go natural, some recommend salting your driveway or spraying with vinegar or boiling water. However, these methods either don’t kill the weed at the root or, in the case of salt, could runoff and damage your lawn.
Regular grading is a simple easy way to deal with weeds without poisoning your lawn or killing your knees. It pulls weeds that may have grown, and, more importantly, prevents them from growing in the first place.
7. Less cost
As we alluded to earlier, owning a grader and grading your own driveway saves money in the long run. Yes, its an investment up front, but you save money in at least three areas:
- Car maintenance: Tires, suspension, and alignment are the areas of a car that are most at risk when you have a poorly maintained driveway. Decreasing unnecessary wear on your vehicle is a great way to save money!
- New gravel: Gravel prices vary significantly, based on gravel size and type. However, a 50-pound bag of all-purpose gravel costs about $5 and covers approximately half a cubic foot. The average driveway is about 650 square feet, meaning you could easily spend between $450-$500 on regraveling.
- Hiring a grader: Grading costs vary based on whether it's sub-grade or fine-surface work. Taking this spectrum into the equation, the average cost to grade a 650-square-foot driveway is $875.
8. Less labor and time
Not only does a grader save you money, but it also saves you labor and time - and makes driveway maintenance more enjoyable! No more pulling weeds by hand, raking gravel, or sinking hours into manually filling in potholes.
Simply attach your grader to your ATV, tractor, mower, or horse, and enjoy the process!
9. Enjoy a well-maintained area
A driveway is not generally associated with beauty. However, when it is well-maintained, even a gravel driveway or parking lot contributes to the beauty and curb appeal of your home or business.
Regularly grading your gravel area is one of the best ways to maintain it. Enjoy the results of your work and investment!
Purchasing a Pull Behind Grader
Now that you know some of the advantages of owning and using a pull-behind grader, how can you decide which grader is right for you?
Unless your gravel area is exceptionally large (e.g., a private gravel road), a small grader will easily get the job done. Simplicity, durability, and effectiveness are all features to look for in a grader.
Simplicity means fewer parts need maintenance. Graders are an investment, so you want to make sure they are made from quality parts and will last! Finally, you want to make sure they accomplish the job and grade at the depth you need.
Not only do Iron Bull’s mini pull-behind graders have all of these features, they include others that set them apart from the competition! With almost 30 years of experience as a company, the team at Iron Bull understands the need for quality equipment and has the experience to build it.
Let’s take a look.
The Iron Bull Advantage
We make our graders with high-quality steel parts. The cutting edges of the grader are made from hardened steel and are able to withstand any type of gravel!
The mini pull-behind grader is reversible! One direction is designed to cut and grade your driveway, while the other direction is designed to smooth it!
You don’t always need or want to grade at the same depth. Our grader allows you to set the exact depth you want to grade at so you can accomplish different tasks from leveling potholes to smoothing the surface.
The mini grader’s simple, lightweight design allows you to pull it with an ATV, tractor, mower, or horse.
No need to purchase any new equipment!
Do you have any questions about choosing a driveway grader? We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have!
Let’s wrap this up with a few simple care tips to enhance the life of your grader.
- Store your grader in a dry place. This diminishes the risk of rust.
- If your grader has tires, keep an eye on tire pressure and avoid parking in ways that put stress on the tires.
- If your grader includes a hydraulic system, regularly check fluid levels, seals, lines, and filters.
- Keep your grader free of mud to lessen the chances of rust.
And you’re all set!
Gravel driveways are an economically and environmentally friendly driveway option. Graders are one of the best ways to maintain your gravel driveway or parking lot! Not only do they diminish gavel waste, but they also save time, money, and labor!
At Iron Bull, we care about providing you with the quality products you need to get the job done! We generally ship within 1-3 business days - so you won’t need to waste time waiting for equipment to arrive. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your product, you may return it for a full refund. We also offer a 1-year guarantee on all of our graders. If something goes wrong, we’ll make it right!
Beyond driveway graders, we also offer other equipment to help you do quality work efficiently, including
Contact us today if you would like to take your driveway maintenance to the next level effectively and with ease!
We look forward to hearing from you!