Most landscaping companies get started on the lawn care side of things, as there are always lawns to be mowed and the equipment isn’t too expensive when starting out small.
Yet as they grow and begin to branch in to the design/build side of things, landscape company owners will quickly realize that manual labor can’t do all the jobs, or not as efficiently as they would like, and this is when compact equipment comes in.
However, even after they’ve selected their machinery, either buying or renting, it actually comes down to selecting the proper attachments that will boost their productivity.
“I’d say the most universal attachment is the bucket,” said Chris Thompson, Ditch Witch’s product manager for compact equipment. “It’s so versatile. You can use it to move mulch, earth, sod, paving stones, pretty much everything.”
There are a variety of attachments out there and it can be overwhelming as to which you really need and if one of the attachments you currently have could manage the job.
Aside from the bucket attachment, Thompson suggests investing in a power rake and trencher as power rakes can help with finish work and leveling the soil out while trenchers help with irrigation installations.
Yet it is important to not assume that power rakes can take the place of grader attachments. Graders are also intended for finish work, but they are better for when you need to alter the terrain and provide control over the contour and slope. They are often used when creating golf courses.
Power rakes are better for preparing the soil for sod as they are engineered to pulverize, aerate, level and condition the soil. Another popular and useful attachment is the combination bucket, which can handle small dozer work, digging, loading, dumping and leveling.
For those looking to branch into nursery work, tree forks are handy attachment as they can help grasp balled trees and transport them with ease. They’re also helpful on large work sites where large trees and shrubs are being installed.
Augers have a narrower field of use, being good for putting in post holes for fences or digging holes for trees, but they have the power and force needed to cut through stubborn material like rocky soil.
According to Thompson, there has been increased interest in tree grapple attachments, which are adept at moving logs and trees. This allows landscapers to move the whole tree to another space where it can be chopped into smaller pieces instead of having to chop it up first and then use a grapple bucket to remove the brush.
Another trend that is coming up is having skid steer models that are bridging the gap between full size and mini skid steer’s power. Ditch Witch’s SK1550 features a 44-horsepower Tier 4 Yanmar diesel engine and directs 34.5 horsepower to the attachment, allowing it to operate attachments that are usually reserved for full size skid steers.
“Engine horsepower dictates what they can put on the front of the machine,” said Thompson. “With the 1550, you have three different gpm flows for different attachments.”
Matching the attachment to the proper flow rating is important to make sure that you get the greatest productivity out of your machine and attachment.
“If you’re looking for buckets or blades I’d say to make sure that they are heavy duty enough to do the work you’re about to do,” Thompson said. “You want to get the appropriate size and match the attachment to the size of the machine.”
While most attachments are designed to be universal and can work on any brand of equipment, Thompson admits he has a bias of going for the attachments manufactured by the same brand of whatever machine he is using.