The bucket and the pallet fork are almost like a landscape construction professional’s right and left hands. You basically have to have them; without them, you’re pretty useless. Those are the two attachments most landscape construction professionals need, at a minimum, to make their skid-steer or loader that much more versatile at a job site.
“Every landscape job site would have those at a minimum,” says Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager for Deere Construction and Forestry. “Forks for unloading materials off trucks for installation jobs, for example blocks for retaining walls. And buckets would be for shaping the land or simple excavation in preparation for installation.”
Tharen Peterson, construction equipment marketing manager for New Holland, says the forks have other uses, too. “Some guys use them to move tree balls. There is a slide that goes over top of the forks that are triangle-shaped, so you don’t rip the tree ball apart.”
There are different designs of buckets and forks, too. So, when buying a skid-steer and deciding what kind to get, the landscaper and the dealer both should have a good understanding of where the landscaper’s primary income streams come from.
“You have mulch buckets, which are larger capacity because it’s a lighter material, and that can sometimes translate into snow buckets because snow is lighter, too,” Peterson says. “In winter, landscapers are the same guys pushing snow, so having a higher volume bucket allows them to move more snow.”
If doing installation work, a landscaper might want a tooth bucket if they want a way to get down through harder ground. This will allow them to break it up so they can start moving material.
Outside of buckets and pallet forks, the most common attachment for landscape construction jobs is an earth auger.
“The reason is because they’re so versatile,” says Peterson. “Landscapers can use them to plant trees or do fencing jobs, so it kind of increases revenue streams and allows them to use a skid-steer or mini excavator for other jobs to help pay for them.”
Power rakes are also useful on a landscape construction site “to remove unwanted material and create a smooth seedbed for seeding,” says Jorge De Hoyos, Kubota senior product manager, skid-steers and compact track loaders, and Dan Base, product manager for Kubota branded attachments by Land Pride. These rakes can also be used for gravel driveway and parking lot renovation, removing grass and weeds, as well as re-leveling and freshening up gravel.
Zupancic agrees that using a dealer’s expertise is critical when shopping for attachments.
“Not everyone who is trying to get into the business is ready to buy expensive, hydraulically driven attachments,” he says. “So the dealer will be able to provide that list of attachments you need, either for rent or having it in inventory so that when the day comes when a job comes up where you need it, you can go purchase it.”
Zupancic says the dealer having the right inventory for your needs boils down to them understanding your business and your future business needs. This will help them respond with additional attachments down the road. Distance and location of your dealer is critical, too.
“It’s important that the dealer is close by in case they need to come out to drop off some attachments on the job site, or maybe if your machine needs some maintenance,” Zupancic says. “Make sure your dealer has the trucks and trailers to bring equipment to your job site if you can’t bring the machine to them.”
Common Attachments At Job Sites
If the area still needs to be cleared, then the following may be used:
- Brush and rock grapples to clean the area
- Rotary cutters to mow vegetation and small trees
- Tree pullers to pull trees that may not be replanted
- Stump grinders to remove unwanted stumps from level ground
- 4-in-1 buckets to grab and move or push objects out of the way and then scrape and grade the initial pass
- Power rakes and rotary tillers to prepare or remove unwanted material and create a smooth seedbed for seeding
- Post hole augers to aid in decorative posts or fencing
Once the area is prepared, then the greenery can be set with the use of:
- Graders to do the final grading
- Tree spades that can be used to relocate and plant trees
- Seeders that can be used to lay down grass seed
- Pallet forks to bring sod squares into the yard
- Brooms to clean driveways and streets of debris created by the construction and normal maintenance of the property
3 Mistakes When Choosing Attachments
1. Not understanding where your revenue streams are coming from or what your growth plans are. Buying certain attachments can get very pricey very quickly. For example, if you’re not out clearing trees a lot, you probably don’t need to invest in a mulching head. Renting is probably smarter than spending $20,000 to $30,000 on something you’re rarely, if ever, going to use. Work closely with your dealer — explain to him or her: “This is what I want now because this is where I make my money.”
2. Not choosing the right attachment for the machine, especially when you consider hydraulic attachments. This is less of a problem with augers and trenchers and standard-flow-type attachments, but you want to make sure the hydraulic motor on the attachment can handle the flow and pressure coming out of the machine. If the hydraulic motor is too small, heat, which is the enemy of hydraulic systems, builds up. The machine starts running more inefficiently and the attachment starts wearing out more quickly. The actual machine, too, whether a skid-steer or loader, can be negatively affected, and that is more expensive to replace.
3. Using a bucket or a combo (4-in-1) bucket that doesn’t cover the wheels and slows down forward movement of the prime mover.