Drag harrows are farm implements that loosen and cultivate soil and then even the surface so that the soil is ready for seeding or nutrition. Aerated soil is a boon to good root structure, which promotes the growth of verdant grasses for grazing. Drag harrows are also used in horse arenas and corrals because the consistency of the soil remains soft and tolerable for the horses' steps and legs. This homemade drag harrow will help you achieve great results for your garden, lawn or working-man's farm.
Versatility Is the Key
This drag harrow actually provides a two-step process to work dry, stubborn soil. First is a 350-pound long-spike roller to break the hard surface. Right behind it is a 4-foot section of chain link fence slightly weighted down with old tires. The implement is designed to drag behind a substantial lawn tractor with anywhere between 12 and 20 horsepower. Hydrostatic transmissions are fine as long as they provide a slow pull mode of about 2 miles-per-hour at full throttle. Otherwise, gear and clutch transmissions are preferred, especially ones with low and high range on top of that. The tires should be deep lug tractor type, or lugged ATV tires as opposed to turf-type tires. If you cannot find lugged tires for your lawn tractor, make your own tire chains with sections of chain and mend links. There should be at least 12 to 18 cross-lugs of chain between the circumference belt chains that hold them to the tires.
Your spike roller will be 12-inch diameters round concrete column, with 8-inch lengths of 5/8-inch rebar protruding out 4-inches at 6-inch intervals around its entire circumference. It also has a 1-inch diameter threaded rod as an axle. Make it using a 4-foot long 12-inch diameter cardboard concrete form. Lower the tube over a 2-foot square piece of plywood with 5-feet of the 6-foot threaded rod pointing straight up out of it. The threaded rod should protrude about a foot above the tube. Drill 48 tight 9/16-inch holes at evenly spaced 6-inch intervals around the tube and tap the 5/8-inch rebar pieces halfway through. Lower six 4-foot pieces of 3/8-inch rebar into the tube and secure to the top spines with cable ties. Pour bags of dry ready-mix concrete into the tube while a helper continually and evenly moistens the poured layers of mix with a fine hose spray until it is just slightly shiny. Completely fill the column with dry mix in this fashion until it is full with slightly moistened mix. Make sure the bars are straight and the axle exactly centered before leaving the concrete to harden. Keep wetting the column with a hose for about a week. The form will stay on the column.
Smooth Drag Harrow
A 4-foot square section of chain-link fencing forms the final smoothing section. An old fence gate wrapped with the fencing is ideal for this. It leaves the soil flat, aerated and ready for planting.
Make a drag frame that can tie into the bolt at the rear of your tractor hitch. Use galvanized cyclone fence pipes bolted together for the frame. They should form a triangle at the front, and then side rails on each side of the spike roller, then back to the smooth fencing section. Put 1-inch ID bushings on the axle of the spike roller and nuts then bolt tight. Drill out 1-1/4-inch holes in 6-inch square 1-inch thick pieces of UHMW polyethylene for bearings over the axle bushings. Use galvanized hardware throughout the harrow.
Attach the harrow to the bolt hitch at the rear of your tractor. Drive slowly over the ground and watch the miracles start to happen.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.