How To Grade In Skid Steer (2023)


In today's Down & Dirty we're talking about how to grade in a skid steer.

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Hey, guys, welcome back today's down and dirty is how to grade a driveway and uh.

And this is really beyond just a driveway.

This should really be entitled, uh, how to grade in a skid steer.

There let's straighten, you out a little bit better.

Okay, this is really just kind of how to grade in a skid steer.

So the key anytime you're grading in a skid steer is you want to get a flat area made for yourself, a flat pad because life gets a thousand times easier when you have a flat pad to work off.

So let's go up here and we're just gonna bomb an area out real quick.


So as we can see not even remotely close to to being flat, right? So, how would we even start? So the first thing I'm going to do in a situation like this, as you can see, we've got a couple humps here.

So I can go into these humps, and I know let me back up here.

I know, I want to have roughly four to six inches of stone here.

So what I'm going to start with is just taking my bucket and it's, roughly four ish inches off of the ground close enough, right? This isn't rocket science and I'm just going to go in here and I'm going to take the tops off of these and then I'm going to back drag them now is there still some humps in that? Yes? But notice they got significantly smoother.

So if we go and do that, again, notice how I'm not bouncing all over the place as much? So if I make another pass and again, you're gonna, as you bounce around you're, gonna have to adjust with the with the bucket two passes is all that took.

And now I have a flat pad that I can work off of so we're going to go back here and we're going to get another bucket of stone.

Maybe I got to think about how I'm going to do this, because I've just made a giant pile for myself oof.

I should have prepped my work area better for a down and dirty shouldn't.

I all right so we're gonna grab a bucket of stone.

Okay, there's our bucket of stone now, because we made ourselves a flat pad to work off of guess what I can go up here on my flat pad, and I can dump out in front of it.

And when I do my initial spread right here, let's, see if you can see it, let me angle you down just a little bit more you're going to notice that the cutting edge of my bucket down here right here is just resting at at the grade that I made with my pad.

And now what I'm going to do as I drive forward is just keep my bucket at that level.

And you can make little adjustments as the grade changes, but let's back up and see what we just did.

Now you can see we've just made a longer, flat pad that we can work off of life's starting to get a lot easier for us.

And so now, with one pass we're gonna go up here, there's, my nice, flat pad, I'm gonna put my bucket down and I'm just gonna back drag it it's all starting to come together, isn't it.

So now we've got ourselves a nice run here, but it doesn't really blend with what we've got out here, that's, not a problem at all.

Let me go up here and spin around.

So now we're looking at it from the other direction.

You're gonna notice we've got a lip there from what our grade is that's.


So we're gonna go here, we're gonna put our bucket down, just nice and flat.

And because this is relatively loose material, I don't have to have a ton of down pressure and we're, just gonna shave that extra off, and then we're gonna back black back blade back drag, whatever you wanna call it.

Notice, how that edge is starting to come together? We've still got a little bit of a lip.

So I'm gonna actually get a little more aggressive on my bucket angle, right here and just shave an inch or so off and then I'm going to start to level back out.

And now we got extra material so we'll dump it right here at the beginning.

Now, before I back drag that I want to see what we've created.

I want to show you guys.

You can't, even see where the transition point is now right, you've got a couple little holes here.

You got a just nice little gentle hooptie, where we shaved a little bit one back drag and it's all it's going to take to correct that.

And now we have a nice smooth grade.

Let's, go do that so we're going to go up here, give her a little more juice.

And this is where when you're back, dragging you want to make sure the float is turned off on your machine, because the float allows that bucket to move all over.

And we don't want our bucket moving all over while we're grading.

So we turn float off.

And now I've got full down pressure on the machine.

And I've got the blade tipped just a little bit down.

So that the bottom of my cutting edge is actually digging into some material.

And it uses it kind of like a kind of like a man I'm a land plate geez, can't think of my words it your cutting edge, kind of works like a land plane where it will roll some material back, and it will fill some of your holes.

And so, as we back drag with full down pressure of the machine, look at the finish we get on there, it's filling in all our little holes all our little hoopties, because our cutting edge has a little bit of material trapped under it.

So we're gonna do one more time just to even it out a little bit more.

And that is a nice, flat.

Perfect, grate, that's, all you need to do.

Now the advantage when you're doing a driveway like this, the advantage of grading forward like I am now is.

I can see exactly the thickness of the material I'm putting down.

So if we drive all the way up here to the edge, you know, you can see we're starting to run out of material over here.

Let me tap my screen to make sure you can see right over here.

We're starting to run our material, that's, okay, because we can see that we're, roughly four inches thick, all the way out here in the front look at there, we're four inches thick.

I know exactly where I'm at with material.

I don't have to guess versus if I was if you can imagine the machine spun around, and we were grading from that direction.

Now, my existing grade is underneath the machine.

So I have no gauge for how thick my material is that I'm putting down so grading in this orientation, when you're doing stone or you're doing some sort of filler over your subgrade.

This is a great way to put down the exact amount of material you'll need without having to guess how thick you are or get out of the machine and dig a quick hole to figure out how thick your material is.

I know, the whole way up this driveway.

I've got four to six inches because I've been grading forward, and I can see my grade.

So as always I hope, this has been helpful if you've got any questions or comments, absolutely drop them down below and we'll catch you guys on the next down and dirty.


How To Grade In Skid Steer? ›

Fill the bucket of your Skid Steer with gravel and lift the arms and bucket off of the ground (ensure you have a good view of the bucket and ground). Move forward over the graded area at a consistent pace whilst at the same time slowly tilting your bucket forward.

Can you grade a lot with a skid steer? ›

Grade all areas by working with the skid steer bucket flat, the loader arms lowered, and use minor corrections in the bucket angle to change the depth of your cut. A slight correction in the bucket angle is more efficient than using the loader arms.

How do you grade land with a Bobcat? ›

How To Level Soil With A Bobcat
  1. Site Preparation. The majority of municipalities will require you to build 'silt fencing' around the perimeter of your grading operation. ...
  2. Clearing. ...
  3. Get Trucks In To Remove Dirt. ...
  4. Mark Out Utility Lines. ...
  5. Check Grade Elevations. ...
  6. Establish A Benchmark. ...
  7. Measure And Record Benchmark. ...
  8. Final Grade.

What is a safe slope for a skid steer? ›

The safe answer is to check your operator's manual. But if we want to generalise, it's typically limited to 30 degrees or a little steeper than a 2:1 slope.

How do you grade gravel with a skid steer? ›

Fill the bucket of your Skid Steer with gravel and lift the arms and bucket off of the ground (ensure you have a good view of the bucket and ground). Move forward over the graded area at a consistent pace whilst at the same time slowly tilting your bucket forward.

How do you level bumpy ground? ›

  1. Mix equal parts topsoil, compost, and sand in a wheelbarrow.
  2. Fill shallow depressions in your yard with ½-inch layer of the mixture.
  3. Smooth the mixture over with a rake.
  4. Blend the area with a push broom.
  5. Overseed with new grass seed, if needed.
  6. Water regularly to establish new seeds and encourage growth.
May 9, 2022

What should you not do with a skid steer? ›

Never place any part of your body outside the cab where you could be crushed. >Never try to start a loader from outside the cab. > Never operate the machine if any safety device is missing or damaged. > Never climb out of a loader with the engine running. >

Is 5000 hours a lot for a skid steer? ›

Some experts say the average lifespan of a skid steer is 5,000 hours. Keep in mind that how long your skid steer lasts depends on several different things, including: Whether you purchased the equipment in new or used condition.

Is 1000 hours a lot for a skid steer? ›

If a 2-year old skid steer has 1,500 hours on it, it hasn't been worked full-time. necessary. As a rule of thumb, an 80 hp machine won't require an engine overhaul until its passed 8,000 hours; a 40 hp machine, on the other hand, will likely require an overhaul after about 4,000 hours.

What is the best equipment to grade with? ›

Motor graders or wheel tractor scrapers may fit the bill for large-scale grading projects on construction sites, farms, and highways. If you're working in small residential areas or parking lots, however, you may consider more compact equipment like mini bulldozers or skid steer loaders.

What is the best machine for grading land? ›

Bulldozers: Best for moving large quantities of material

The powerful bulldozer is used to move and grade dirt in large, open tracts of land.

How do you grade land properly? ›

Soil Grading Around Your Home

Ideally, the ground should drop one inch for every one foot that you move away from the house for the first 5-to-10 feet around your house. While this is not always possible, the ground should never be sloping upwards as you move away from your house foundation.

How steep of a hill can a skid steer go up? ›

“This is often limited to 10°, or approximately a 6:1 slope.” Also, keep the heavy end of the machine pointed uphill. “When the bucket is full, that would be the front end, and when the bucket is empty the rear of the machine would be the heaviest end,” notes Dahl.

What slope is too steep? ›

Slope (%)Approximate degreesTerminology
30 - 4516.5 - 24Very strong slope
45 - 7024 - 35Extreme slope
70 - 10035 - 45Steep slope
> 100> 45Very steep slope
6 more rows
May 15, 2022

Can you grade a driveway with a skid steer? ›

With a tractor or skid-steer grader, make several passes up and down the length of your gravel driveway to break up the existing gravel. Traverse up one side of the driveway with a grader to pull the gravel to the center, creating a protrusion along the middle of the lane — this will be your crown.

How often should you grade a gravel road? ›

However, as a rough guide, it's typically optimal to: grade gravel roads with high traffic volumes as often as every 10 or so days. grade roads with medium to low traffic every three weeks to a month. grade low usage roads at least once a season (and after periods of heavy rain).

What is the maximum slope for a gravel drive? ›

Gravelrings is only recommended for use on sloped surfaces with a maximum gradient of 1:5 (20 per cent). If the driveway in question is has a gradient greater than that then an alternative surface finish is recommended.

What does Class 5 gravel look like? ›

Class 5 Sand and Gravel

It is brown in color and used mainly for driveways or as a base for construction projects. Class 1 gravel typically has less clay than class 1 gravel.

How do you level ground for beginners? ›

How to Level a Yard [8 Steps]
  1. STEP 1: Mow Your Lawn. ...
  2. STEP 2: Dethatch Your Lawn [As Needed] ...
  3. STEP 3: Dig up the grass in the sunken area of the lawn. ...
  4. STEP 4: Make Soil Mix: Topsoil, Sand and Compost. ...
  5. STEP 5: Fill Sunken Areas and Holes with Soil Mixture. ...
  6. STEP 6: Even Out the Entire Lawn. ...
  7. STEP 7: Water the Lawn.

What is the best tool for leveling dirt? ›

Soil levelling rake

One of the most straightforward tools to use is a soil leveling rake. You can use this with your foot, distribute the soil evenly, and eliminate any large bumps and stones that may still be there.

Should I use sand or topsoil to level yard? ›

The number one benefit to topdressing with sand is that it's the easiest and most effective way to level your lawn. Having used topsoil as well as various topdressing mixes over the years I can attest that sand is by far the easiest to spread (whether wet or dry).

Do skid steers tip over easily? ›

Tip-overs: A skid steer carrying an unbalanced load has a greater chance of tipping over forward or backward. It can even tip over sideways if being operated on a slope. Runovers: The skid steer operator or someone nearby can get run over by this piece of machinery.

Is a skid steer good for clearing land? ›

Skid steers are perfect for heavy-duty land clearing. They can get through dense brush and piles of logs. Skid steer bulldozers make quick work of the most challenging construction projects. Skid steer tractors can pull out boulders from the ground.

Do skid steers hold their value? ›

You'll also want to consider the maintenance of a used skid steer as those tend to increase as the machine ages. Skid steer can hold their value well, so you should think about if this is a machine you are going to keep around for a while. If it is, consider buying new.

Can a 1 2 ton truck pull a skid steer? ›

Skid steer loaders get towed frequently as a way of transportation. Fortunately, many skid steer loaders can be moved using a half-ton or three-quarter-ton truck and appropriate trailer.

Can you make a living with a skid steer? ›

There are many ways to make money with a Skid-Steer or Compact Track Loader (CTL). There is the typical "hook on a bucket and start moving dirt" type of work, or hauling rock, or just general material handling.

How long does a skid steer engine last? ›

John Deere skid steers offer a general lifespan of around 5,000 hours with proper maintenance and operation.

How much money does a skid steer make? ›

Skid Steer Loader Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$69,500$5,791
75th Percentile$56,000$4,666
25th Percentile$34,500$2,875

Are skid steers a good investment? ›

It may seem like more of a financial commitment than renting, but if it allows you to work more efficiently and avoid repetitive rental fees, you can get a great return on your investment over time. Plus, skid steers generally have lower initial costs and ongoing costs than other similar types of compact equipment.

Is it hard to operate a grader? ›

This calls for complete understanding of the equipment and a particular skill set to perform the tasks efficiently and accurately. Generally, out of all the heavy equipment, motor graders are perceived to be the most difficult vehicles to drive.

What equipment is used for rough grading? ›

In civil engineering "rough grading" is performed by heavy equipment such as wheel tractor-scrapers and bulldozers. Graders are used to "finish grade", with the angle, tilt (or pitch) and height of their blade capable of being adjusted to a high level of precision.

Can you grade with a loader? ›

Grading with a front end loader takes slow and steady patience. Work in sections at lower speeds to avoid having to do multiple passes and corrections, and always back-drag while grading.

How much dirt do I need for grading? ›

Length in feet x Width in feet x Depth in feet (inches divided by 12). Take the total and divide by 27 (the amount of cubic feet in a yard). The final figure will be the estimated amount of cubic yards required.

What is the difference between land grading and leveling? ›

While land leveling refers to the process of smoothing the surface of your lawn, yard grading specifically alters the surface of your lawn so it slopes away from your home or other structures.

Is grading the same as excavation? ›

Once a site is clear and obstacles excavated, contracts will grade the site to prepare for installing a new surface. Land grading is the process of leveling the site or land for construction. It is a separate process from site excavation because rather than moving the earth, you are shaping it to level it out.

What is the best way to keep water away from foundation? ›

The three best options for redirecting water away from home foundations include French drains, gutter systems and swales. However, all of these options require professional installation to ensure they function as intended and drain or collect water in a responsible manner.

What is the minimum slope for water drainage? ›

Using a minimum slope of 2% will encourage a good flow when directing water to a rain garden. For a 2% slope your pipe height will lower ~¼ inch for every foot of length.

What is the minimum slope for grass drainage? ›

Regardless of surface characteristics, when it comes to surface drainage, slope is the most important issue to consider. For efficient drainage, paved surfaces should have a minimum 1-percent slope. Turf or landscaped areas should have a minimum slope of 2 percent.

Are skid steers good on hills? ›

Don't drive across steep slopes. Drive straight up or down the slope, with the heavy end of the loader pointed uphill and the bucket lowered to the ground. Always look back when you're operating the skid-steer loader in reverse. Make sure no one is in the way.

Can you use a skid steer in the rain? ›

In the rain: Wheeled machinery can hydroplane in standing water, leading to dangerous sliding and loss of control. Avoid using a skid steer whenever possible if it's raining on the job site.

Is a 17% slope steep? ›

Less than 10% incline is considered slight and is the easiest to build on. Around 11-20% is considered moderate and gradients above 20% are considered “steep”.

Is a 15% slope steep? ›

Moderate slopes: 10 - 15 % gradient. Steep slopes: 16 - 30 % gradient. Extremely steep slopes: 31 - 60% gradient.

How steep is 30 percent grade? ›

Example slopes comparing the notations
DegreesPercentage (%)Ratio
16.9°30%1 in 3.3
14.0°25%1 in 4
11.3°20%1 in 5
8.13°14.2%1 in 7
32 more rows

Can I level my yard with a skid steer? ›

The skid steer buckets with lower sides and back, as well as the extended bottom, will be perfect for the job. One bent at the back will help with leveling while reversing.

How do you drive a skid steer up a slope? ›

Always travel up and down slopes, never across. Move up and down slopes with the heavy end of the loader pointed uphill. Remember, no load=most weight on the rear of the skid steer; loaded bucket=more weight on the front. Try to go around obstacles, rather than over or through them.

Can you grade dirt with a skid steer? ›

You can also use skid steer blades for grading. These attachments are excellent when you need to rough or finish grade dirt or gravel. There are specific grader blades for skid steers that allow you to cut and grade dirt, sand, gravel and other base materials.

Can you dig dirt with a skid steer? ›

Excavating, digging and trenching: A skid steer is great for earthmoving tasks like digging, trenching and excavating. There are a variety of attachments you can use for these tasks, depending on your specific needs. Some examples include a backhoe, auger, trencher and wheel saw.

Can you grade with a wheeled skid steer? ›

With the right size skid steer and the right attachment, you can perform just about any materials handling, loading, grading or digging job in just about any environment.

What kind of dirt should I use for grading? ›

What kind of soil should I use to grade my yard? You should use a dense soil like clay to form the bulk of your new gradient. This will make it easier to tamp down and prevent erosion over time. However, for the first few inches of topsoil, you can use a more fertile soil to allow better grass growth.

How deep of a hole can a skid steer dig? ›

All skid steer sizes support trenchers that can dig at least 3 feet deep, whereas larger options can dig trenches up to 5 feet deep. Trenchers are commonly used for drain pipes, utility lines, sprinkler systems and footing.

What percent grade is too steep for a driveway? ›

How Steep of a Driveway Is Too Steep? You shouldn't have a driveway slope grade greater than 20%, but ideally, it shouldn't go over 12%. What that means is the incline shouldn't be higher than 12 feet for every 100 feet of length. A high slope grade presents all sorts of problems.

Will skid steer damage asphalt? ›

Skid steer tires operate most efficiently on hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt and dirt and they won't tear up these surfaces.

Can you knock down trees with a skid steer? ›

Skid steers can be used in land clearing and forestry applications by skidding trees. When skidded, a tree is brought down, and the stump is ground out.

How many hours do skid steers last? ›

Some experts say the average lifespan of a skid steer is 5,000 hours. Keep in mind that how long your skid steer lasts depends on several different things, including: Whether you purchased the equipment in new or used condition. The type and difficulty of the work you are using the skid steer for.

Why is a skid steer better than a tractor? ›

Their lower center of gravity makes them less prone to rollover than tractors, so you can take on tight turns and slopes with greater confidence. Their stability and maneuverability give skid steers the advantage when it comes to farming in rugged areas.

How many hours do Bobcat tracks last? ›

Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat loader product specialist, estimates the average life of rubber tracks to be between 1,200 and 1,600 hours. However, it depends on the operating conditions and the application.

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