It is so important to manage every part of your acreage to the best of your ability. Whether it's and apartment, house, mansion or farm, there are always things that need to be fixed and maintained. In my experience, with some enthusiasm and ingenuity, much of it can be done by yourself and the learning that takes place in the process is invaluable. Doing things on your own sets the example for your whole family. Just watch your kids after they see you in the shop building some contraption, next thing you know, they'll be inside doing the same thing with legos. If you pay attention to the habits of your youngsters it will tell you a lot about your own habits. As you go they go.
Most people might not pay much attention to a pull through gravel driveway, but for me, when I see moss spots growing I see standing water and places where the gravel has been flattened or just isn't there, I see evidence that the driveway isn't functioning as it was intended to. I want all who pull in to the farm to see a place that looks cared for, prepared and game-ready.
You can order driveway drags or graders online or through a feed store, but most of the versions I looked at were over-engineered for my need and all were expensive. When its tough to rationalize a cost, it's time to realize an idea and do your best to execute it with parts that are already in your inventory.
In addition to the reasons above, I wanted to build this DIY driveway drag because any time I can find a reason to ideate, plug in the saws and get out my tool belt, I'm in and if whatever I'm building can be attached the John Deere, what's not to love?! When you find joy in hard work, no project can ever defeat you.
This big beam, and 4 others like it have a story behind them: Soon after we had moved to the farm, a day before our last house closed, I borrowed a truck and drove into town on a rainy, nasty February night to get these beams out from behind my old shed. They were originally the main support beams for a deck I had taken out at that house. I tend to personify things, also known as viewing them like people, and in this regard, I felt like those beams and I had been through alot together, that they wanted to join our family at the farm, to have the opportunity to contribute to the effort. For this reason, and the fact that 4X8 treated beams are expensive, I just couldn't move out to a tree farm and leave those beams behind. I got covered in mud that night and I was soaked head to toe when I got home and unloaded these beasts at their forever home. My wife, for the 113th time in our relationship, thought I had lost it. Well, so far, one of those beams was turned into an DIY barbell and now, a second beam has been turned into a DIY driveway drag. They are contributing and I believe they are happy.
My beam and a bunch of rebar that was left at the farm was all I needed to develop a vision for this project.
1. I cut the beam 12 inches wider than the width of the mower.
2. I measured, marked and drilled 8 holes, slightly smaller diameter than the rebar.
3. I filled each hole with liquid nails before hammering each piece of rebar in, cutting it to 3.5" and hammering what was left of each bar into the next hole.
4. I attached eyelets to the ends, attached a rope to them and tied a loop in the middle to attach to the hitch.
First time out: The drag did a decent job, it chewed up the gravel and pulled pretty well. I did experience a lot of bouncing though and it was obvious the rebar wasn't really getting down in to the rock as well as I planned. The other issue I had was that the bouncing was beating up the rope. I knew the drag wouldn't survive another session, alterations needed to be made.
The first change I made that day was to get rid of the rope and attach a bit piece of cable that came with the farm. After that change I hung the drag and left it for a few months.
As the rains came in this winter and I checked the basement remodel off my list, got the leaves up, fertilized, overseeded and hung new outdoor lights, I finally got to the point where I was ready to make the changes and re-drag the driveway. Let's be real here, the re-moss patch was back and something had to be done.
I knew this drag needed a counterweight. Last summer I pulled our 10 or so 12" X 12" concrete pavers out of the little path from the back patio to the kids play set. I've had a few of them laying around for awhile now, they are perfect for adding weight to something like a driveway drag. I decided to add a main support beam right off the top of the drag and build a 12" X 12" box in which to place 1 or 2 of the concrete pavers. This way the forward forces of the mower pulling drag would be counterbalanced by the weight on the back of the drag.
I took a treated 2" X 6" board and attached it to the beam with a lag bolt (another thing to never throw away) and a few deck screws. I then grabbed an old piece of plywood and quickly assembled my 12" X 12" box and attached it to the end of the 2X6 with couple of screws. I also added an extra piece of 2X6 on the underside as a wear part. This way, as I use this drag more and more I can just change that block out as opposed to the whole arm and box.
Quick video below with an explanation of the improvements on driveway drag version 2.0 while showing the drag in action.
I hope this gives you some motivation to ideate, create and problem solve something at your acreage. And remember, if your wife doesn't think you're losing it every so often, you've got to branch out!
Rise. Shine. Crush.