A pull-behind box scraper, which connects to the back of ATVs, a garden tractor, riding mowers, and farm tractors, can be handy for landscaping and gardening projects, including heavy-duty driveway grading work.
A Box blade is a three-sided metal box. The front blade and the rear blade on the bottom of the back panel allow soil and gravel leveling. They are affordable for leveling a driveway, pushing backfill into a hole, or spreading gravel. Box blades are not suitable for heavy digging.
Some of the everyday tasks that a box grader is suited for include leveling uneven ground, fine grading, and backfilling. If you choose a box scraper with hardened scarifier teeth, they are suited for even the hardest digging, grading, and earthmoving employment.
If this is your first time using a box scraper, here are some tips to make leveling, ripping/excavating, and removing materials a breeze.
Please follow all manufacturer safety instructions when operating heavy equipment. Your Operator’s manual should supersede anything read online.
See Related: Do Pull Behind Lawn Aerators Work?
How to use a pull behind box scraper
Most Box blades will use a three-point hitch.
- Adjust the width of the two lower arms to match the connection points on the box blade. You will need to pull the pin and spread them wider, and then reinsert the pin. Move the pin back, the same number of holes on each side to keep the blade centered behind the tractor.
- Back your garden tractor up with the two lower arms lined up reasonably close to the two connection points. Once close enough, manually move them into their slots and run the pins through them to connect the hitch to the blade. Watch out for pinch points!
- The top link will now be in reach to connect to the blade. While in the lowered position, connect it to the maximum hitch point. You can turn the threads to lengthen the link and connect the top link if it is too short.
- Using the Hydraulic system, raise the blade off the ground to transport it to your worksite.
See Related: Is a Box Scraper Or Rear Blade Better?
Note about Garden Tractors:
A small box scraper for lawn mowers or garden tractors will likely need a sleeve hitch that approximates the function of a three-point hitch. Sleeve hitches are purchased from the riding mower manufacturer or an aftermarket equivalent.
There are a few rare box blade models that use a single point hitch, in which case you connected it to the back of your vehicle and then adjusted the height behind the blade by the rear tires.
Finally, many of these models have a weight tray for increasing the downward pressure on the blade. Adding a few cinder blocks can make all of the difference.
How to Adjust Box Scraper Height
You need to adjust the height of the scraper and ensure it is level.
If box scrapers are not level, they will create a ridge in your work. While this is handy for roadwork, it is counterproductive for grading a site (or for leveling and backfilling holes).
The top link of the three-point hitch should be changed first.
- The height is easily adjusted by raising and lowering the hydraulic three-point hitch. Feel free to finesse this as you need to while grading.
For left to right angle adjustment of box scrapers, follow these steps:
- First, park the tractor on smooth, hard ground (such as a concrete parking space) and lower the hydraulics so that the cutting edge(s) of the box scraper is in contact with the surface (resting on the ground) and perfectly leveled. This also relieves the pressure from the connections so you can turn them by hand.
- Then, placing a level on the top of the box blade, twist the adjustment pipe on one of the two bottom connectors. This will raise or lower that connector just enough to create an angle to your blade. Having an angle on the blade makes it easier to create a crown or ridge when grading driveways.
- When you need to create a flat grade, use the same adjustment and your level to move it back into a flat position.
Adjusting The Pitch
The top connection will adjust the angle of the box blade so that it digs in more or less.
- With the blade raise, twist the top shank to shorten it for more front blade cutting.
- With the blade raised, twist the top shank to lengthen it for more rear blade smoothing.
Of course, depending on the job at hand, you can need to elevate it a little, so practice lengthening and shortening the top connection to suit the task at hand.
Here’s how to use a pull behind box scraper for different tasks:
How To Grade or Level With Pull Behind Box Scrapers
When used for grading and leveling, the tool should be used as follows:
- Lower the box scraper to the surface and move forward with the equipment’s ripper shanks lifted (all the way). The cutting blade starts shaving the ground right away, and dirt/aggregate material begins to collect in the box.
- You could now drag the collected material to a suitable location and then slowly hoist the scraper to deposit the accumulated load.
- Continuing feathering the box blade to raise and lower as needed and to create the smooth surface you are after
How can you improve your leveling?
For smoothing an area with loose soil, you will want the box blade to float on top of the material.
Shorten the top shank to raise the front blade and allow the backside of the rear scraping blades to float on top of the material. Then set your 3-point hitch into float mode.
This will allow the blade to smooth the high spots and create a more consistent spreading and leveling of the scraped material. The accumulated dirt escapes the box scraper (under the blade) to the low-lying spots.
This is handy for those finishing touches, such as leveling gravel before building a machine shed.
How To Break Up Packed Ground?
When working with extra hard ground, it’s time to use the ripping motion of the front scarifier blades to loosen the stubborn earth. Shorten the top connection until you have a strong connection between the teeth and the ground.
After the hard soil has been torn up, the blade should be successful in moving that loosened material.
How To Adjust Scarifier Blades
For extra-aggressive ripping (recommended for extra-difficult soil conditions), follow these steps:
- Manually lower the entire complement of shanks (one notch at a time). However, you must exercise caution here, as lowering the shanks too far into the hard soil can cause the tractor to stop, or will bend a tine. It’s preferable to be forced to make several repeat passes to grade and level those areas than to risk the tractor coming to a halt.
- Adjust the top connector to get the amount of contact and angle of contact that seems to work best for your situation.
- Lift the scarifier blades when the soil has been loosened to allow for more blade action.
How do you change the shanks?
For nearly all box scrapers, change the height of each shank as follows (first stop the tractor and park on a flat, secure surface):
- Using pliers, press the top of the shank spring retainer together. Pull the retainer up and out of the tube slot on the shank. When you remove the spring retainer, make sure the shank notch stays in the top slot.
- Raise/lower the shank manually to the correct height, making sure the shank notch stays in the top slot. Now, in the top slot, catch the shank notch at this height.
- Use the spring retainer clip to hold the shank in place – insert the clip into the top slots (behind the shank) before it snaps into place.
Keep your hands off the shank slots when adjusting the shank height; shanks will pinch body parts (in the slots) when sliding into position.
Start the tractor and move forward until the shanks are in the desired place. The ground material can now be quickly broken up.
See Related: How does a pull-behind spreader work
A quick note on ground speed
You’ll get the best results if you keep your speed between 2 and 4 mph for the most part.
How to backfill with a pull behind box scraper
For backfilling purposes, use the following tips:
Simply lower your box scraper to the deck, then back up into the backfill pile with the normal, rear-facing blade.
Move backwards, pushing the dirt behind you. Move small amounts of material at a time.
Remove The Side Plates
Many models allow the removal of the sideplates and the scarifier bar. This leaves you with just the back blade. While not as flexible as a rear angle blade, this mode can be handy for moving larger gravel.