Equipment for Grading and Ground Leveling

Grading is an essential part of any landscaping and construction project. Grading involves reshaping land at construction sites. This shaping might include lowering or raising ground levels, reshaping and removing slopes, or leveling the surface. To get the job done right, you need to know which grading and ground leveling equipment best matches the job.

Choosing the right equipment is simple once you know all the different types of grading, what equipment is used for grading and the various attachments they use. Understanding these criteria will help you make the right choice for every grading and ground-leveling project.

Types of Grading

To decide which grading equipment to use, you need to be familiar with the different types of grading.

  • Landscape grading: This type of grading reshapes land to make it smoother. Smooth ground is required for proper drainage, planting, altering elevation and installing irrigation systems.
  • Regrading: Regrading is when an area of land is lowered or raised. This is necessary for all types of work, from small projects to large land developments.
  • Architectural grading: Architectural grading is an essential part of the building process. This type of grading prepares land for constructing new structures, buildings or homes. The process involves adjusting the soil’s slope and elevation to prepare and install drainage and foundation properly.
  • Rough grading: Rough grading sets an area’s basic shape, elevation and slope. This is done to prepare the ground for development or landscaping or to establish proper drainage flow. Rough grading often involves adding, removing and moving soil until the land is the required shape and elevation.
  • Finish grading: Finish grading refers to putting the final touches on a newly-graded area. For gravel roads and earthworks projects, grading often needs to be done on the base and the surface of completed construction. After rough grading has shaped the slope and removed all rocks, stumps and debris, finish grading creates a smooth top surface.

Types of Equipment Used for Grading

While most grading equipment is versatile, choosing the best equipment to level ground for your specific project is crucial. The right choice will make your project easier to complete and more efficient. Here are the main types of grading equipment available and the kinds of projects they are best used for.

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Motor Graders

Motor graders were initially designed for construction and maintenance work but are now also used for mining, roadwork and landscaping. These highly adaptable tools can help with setting building foundations, leveling surfaces, digging ditches, spreading materials, constructing slopes and other related grading tasks. Motor graders are used for their efficiency, high-precision grading capabilities, maneuverability and versatility.

Motor graders use rubber tires that provide solid traction on many different surfaces, allowing them to work quickly. They are also road-safe, making them convenient to transport from site to site.

One drawback to motor graders is that their large size limits them to being used for larger projects. Additionally, motor graders require experienced operators with the right skills to operate them properly. They are one of the more difficult machines to learn how to operate. This difficulty limits the number of workers who can use them, making them less suited for novice operators and newcomers.


Bulldozers‘ incredible size and power make them some of the best equipment for leveling ground for large projects. Operators can use a bulldozer’s front blade to perform various grading operations. This huge vehicle is as versatile as it is powerful, capable of leveling land for roads, railways, landscaping, construction and finish grading. The versatility of a bulldozer comes from the sheer number of different attachments available for it.

However, due to their size, bulldozers are also prone to dealing more damage to the surrounding environment, like trees, shrubs and soil, so fine grading and precision work is best left to other grading machines.

Wheel Tractor Scrapers

Wheel tractor scrapers have a tractor in the front and a hopper, or bowl, in the rear. The tractor moves forward, dragging a large horizontal blade that cuts into the soil and fills up the bowl in the back. Unlike other machines, wheel tractor scrapers can also transport collected material after completing their grading job. They are the best machine to level ground and haul excess soil. Additionally, they are more effective at scraping wet soil than any other earthmoving machine.

Scrapers are extremely useful in the right situation, and their multitasking capabilities can improve your efficiency. However, they often require another machine to support them, especially on tougher terrain. Single-engine and non-motorized pull-type scrapers are more likely to need support equipment than other types.

Skid Steers and Compact Track Loaders

Skid steers and compact track loaders are self-propelled, versatile machines capable of completing big jobs in small spaces. These smaller machines are best suited for small-scale grading work for landscaping, backfilling and residential lots. The difference is that skid steer loaders have tires, and compact track loaders move on tracks.

The buckets at the front of the vehicle are excellent for scooping and transporting soil and other materials. You can add attachments to the bucket or replace it altogether to improve the machine’s grading capabilities. These tools can also help transfer weight forward, stopping the front of the equipment from leaving the ground and improving traction.

Because they have tires, skid steers may face difficulties with soft or uneven surfaces. They will leave noticeable tire marks on softer ground as they move. For soft or rocky soil, track loaders are often better despite their heavier weight because their weight is distributed more evenly. However, tracks wear out quickly on paved surfaces.

Skid steers and compact track loaders are compatible with a wide range of attachments that can help with grading projects of all kinds. They are better at finishing grading than larger machines and can handle complicated tasks in small areas.

Types of Grading Attachments

Knowing which attachment is compatible with the right machines and when to use them is critical information for any project manager and operator to know. This section covers some of the most useful and common grading attachments you can use with grading machines. These attachments connect to the front of the machine to help them perform more tasks.


Augers look similar to screws and are used for digging holes, such as for placing telephone poles and fence posts, planting trees, building foundations and various other uses. Augers are compatible with several construction vehicles, including excavators, compact track loaders, skid steers, compact utility loaders and backhoes. Augers are generally best suited to landscape and residential development projects.


Buckets handle and move large amounts of material like soil, sand, rocks and debris. There are many different types of bucket attachments, each with its own purpose and design. Here are some common bucket attachments:

  • General bucket: This is the most common type of bucket attachment. There are general bucket attachments for just about every type of construction vehicle. They are used for grading and leveling land and material handling.
  • Dirt bucket: These buckets are used in landscaping projects to move mulch, soil and debris in bulk. They can also be used for digging.
  • Heavy-duty bucket: Heavy-duty buckets are used to handle and move heavy materials and debris like boulders. They are most useful for leveling rough terrains and removing large amounts of stone and gravel. They are also useful for construction and landscaping projects.
  • Light material bucket: These buckets are designed for moving and handling lightweight materials like snow and mulch. They are most commonly used during the winter to remove snow. They work especially well with skid steers.
  • Low profile bucket: Low profile buckets are small and used in smaller workspaces. They are most commonly attached to skid steers and mini excavators. City and urban projects generally use low-profile buckets. They are also used when building a road, digging along a wall and other projects that require precision. The smaller size of these buckets makes them easy for operators to use while avoiding obstacles.
  • Rock bucket: Rock buckets are made for moving concrete, gravel and stone. They are commonly used on construction sites to move debris while soil sifts through the holes at the bottom of the bucket.
  • Specialty buckets: Specialty buckets are designed for complicated jobs requiring equipment for specific tasks. For example, grapple buckets are made to pick up trees, logs, bushes and hay.

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grapple is a type of attachment that secures into skid steer buckets. They’re used to pick up and transport debris and materials. There are multiple skid steer grapple types used for different tasks. Here are some of the most common grapples:

  • Rock grapples: Rock grapples help with landscaping, demolition, logging and construction projects. Their serrated edges make them ideal for sifting debris and lifting large and awkward objects.
  • Root grapples: This root and brush attachment is a handy tool for various tasks like demolition, clean up, land clearing, loading, dumping and removing roots, stumps and debris.
  • Tine grapples: Tine grapples are useful for farmers and ranchers. The tines are specifically made to pick up common farm materials like hay, leaves, brush and manure.
  • Demolition and scrap grapples: This skid steer attachment enables you to hold scrap in the solid bottoms of these grapples. The heavy-duty design of demolition and scrap grapples makes them perfect for handling high-capacity materials and debris and cleaning up after demolitions.


Rake attachments work the same as giant rakes. They’re used for grading terrain, pulverizing debris and removing rocks. Farmers commonly use them for plowing their fields, but they also make excellent grading tools. These are the most common rake attachments:

  • Grader rake: Grader rakes are used to clear coarse materials such as bricks, roots, bramble and rocks. Adjust the angle of the rake for rougher leveling.
  • Power rake: A power rake is a drum with spikes made out of carbide. The rotating drum breaks and sifts materials and can be used on any type of soil and terrain.
  • Preparator rake: A preparator rake is best for clearing debris, removing rocks and preparing the soil. It uses a rotating bi-directional drum that puts rocks and debris into a perforated bucket designed to sift out dirt and soil.


Blades are mainly used for grading and leveling. Some vehicles have blades built-in while others require attachments. Many different blades are available for grading machinery. Here are some common blade types:

  • Straight blade: This attachment comes in multiple heights and widths for different applications. It attaches to the front of a machine and is used for grading, land-leveling, snow removal and dozing.
  • Universal blade: Also known as a U-blade, this attachment has tall, wide curved wings. They are designed to push materials across long distances and are best used for clearing, dozing and grading. They can be attached to large vehicles like bulldozers.
  • Box blade: A box blade is used to help guide skid steers when working on the concrete subgrade, fine grading and parking lots.
  • Dozer blades: This skid steer attachment makes small-scale finish and rough grading jobs much easier at construction sites and landscaping.

Why Grading Is Important

Grading is the sculpting of the land on which the rest of your project will be built. Proper grading requires precision, perfect attention to detail and the right equipment. It ensures proper aesthetics for landscaping projects and prepares land for buildings, parking structures, walkways, gardens and roads. Grading is also part of meeting zoning requirements.

Establishing the correct height, depth and level of the ground, soil and slopes you work with is critical to achieving perfect results. Grading is essential to establishing proper drainage and creating environmental protection against stormwater, erosion, pollutants and runoff management.

Find Equipment, Attachments and Services at H.O. Penn

If you’re searching for the right grading or leveling equipment or looking for ways to optimize how you use your current machines, H.O. Penn is here for you. We take pride in being your Cat® dealer in New York and Connecticut. We maintain a range of reliable Cat® equipment and parts and provide various services. Whether you’re looking to rent equipment or purchase a new or used machine, you can count on H.O. Penn.

In addition to our expansive range of Cat® products, we maintain the high standards expected of us as a Cat® dealership. Our industry experience ensures you have what you need for your job. Find the equipment you need when you browse our full selection of equipment and find your solution. You can also contact us to get a quote to secure the tools you need to perform the best grading and construction work possible.

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