Photo courtesy of Bobcat

Compact excavators and mini-track loaders aren’t always go-to options for landscape contractors but they can accomplish a lot in small spaces where larger equipment just can’t fit.

“I think one of the big things with these pieces of equipment is that they don’t always get the attention because people are looking at skid-steer loaders or track loaders to add the versatility that these pieces of equipment also do,” says Chris Girodat, Bobcat Company marketing manager.

Compact excavators are ideal for grading, hardscape work, retaining walls, placing rocks, trenching, planting trees, mulching and more. And with hydraulic attachments like post hole augers, trench compactors and hydraulic thumbs, landscapers can do even more.

“Hydraulic systems will continue to evolve on excavators because attachments are demanding more flow and precision to get things done,” says Jeff Jacobsmeyer, Kubota product manager.

Instead of bringing in a track loader or a wheel loader, landscapers can do final grading or blade work with a compact excavator.

“In certain instances, for example, compact excavators can be used in place of compact skid-steers or other loaders to load trucks, especially high-sided trucks that may be beyond the reach of compact loaders,” says Jordan Dey, compact excavator product manager for JCB North America.

Larger compact excavators can handle jobs many landscapers use tractor loader backhoes for.

“Compact excavators are more convenient to move to and from jobsites.” Michael Shebetka, Takeuchi-US

“They can be even more efficient in regards of being able to dig in tighter areas and not frequently needing to readjust position when digging,” says Michael Shebetka, product manager for Takeuchi-US. “In addition, compact excavators are more convenient to move to and from jobsites.”

Mini-track loaders are great for moving materials and pallets around in small spaces like between houses or through gates.

In spaces where wheelbarrow work seems like a necessity, a mini-track loader or compact excavator can lighten the load on your crews, and move materials faster. A variety of attachments are available for both pieces of equipment to increase their versatility. Contractors can get many of the attachments available for skid-steers on a compact excavator or mini track loader.

“Many people just buy a couple of attachments – a bucket or maybe a clamp unit or something, but they don’t really fully utilize the full potential of that excavator and all of the attachments that are now available,” Girodat says.

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and purchasing a compact excavator or mini-track loader, consider your workload and the equipment you already have. Can you haul it with your current fleet? Will it fit on your jobsites? Can it do all of the tasks you need it to do?

“For example, if you’re looking at only one spec, like how deep you dig, you might be missing another spec like being able to dump it into the back of a truck or being able to lift a rock into place. So, there’s a lot of things guys need to look at,” Girodat says.