How To Maintain A Gravel Drive Using A Box Blade With Hydraulic Scarifiers

By Staff
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April 2019 – Sponsored by John Deere

It’s a fact of life. Your gravel driveway will need maintenance. Rain, snow, drought, traffic – they all take a toll on the smooth, firm surface you want for your driveway. There are multiple tools you can use for this task, but when your long gravel driveway falls victim to a bad case of washboard effect, it’s a perfect project for a box blade with hydraulic scarifiers. The scarifiers will do a great job of cutting through the washboard surface of the gravel drive, churning the material so the box blade’s cutting edge can smooth it out.

Scarifiers are vertical, narrow, hardened steel shanks, angled at the bottom, with heat-treated points that can usually be replaced as they become worn. They are set in a bar that runs horizontally inside the box blade with their points facing forward. They can be raised or lowered, typically by hand, and are used to churn up the surface of the driveway, or pass above when smoothing out the gravel with the body of the box blade. 

What’s nice about this particular box blade model, however, is that the scarifier bar is raised and lowered hydraulically, so you never have to get off your tractor while you’re working. 

Setting up this box blade with hydraulic scarifiers to start working is a two-step process. 

First, raise the box blade slightly and set the hydraulic scarifier beam in its down and locked position. Then set each scarifier shank in a low position on the bar. You want the scarifier points set low enough to churn the surface down to just below the bottom of the washboard bumps, but not into the driveway’s foundation.

Now you’re ready to get started. 

By running the scarifiers through the washboard surface, you can break up the washboard bumps and any other eroded areas in the driveway. How many passes over your driveway this will take depends on the condition of its surface to begin with. 

After churning the surface into a softer, spreadable composition, you’ll hydraulically raise the scarifier bar so the scarifiers are lifted out of the way. Then you lower the box blade to the surface and begin spreading the churned-up material along the length of the drive. As it begins to stream out the back of the box blade, it will leave a smooth, even surface behind.

It took about an hour and three or four passes up and down the 200-yard-long gravel drive shown here to eliminate the washboard bumps and smooth out the sized material. In the end, it’s another project well done by having the right tools for the job.

And remember: always read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment, and follow all operating and safety instructions.

If you’d like to see more tips and videos about getting all kinds of jobs done around your place, and the equipment you need to do them, visit Tips Notebook.  

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