When it comes to earthmoving projects, you need the right tool for the job. There’s no point hiring a mini loader to excavate a pool or using an 8-tonne excavator to dig a few fence holes.
The range of earthmoving equipment is extensive, however, so let's take a look at what Kennards Hire offers, and shed some light on which machine suits which application. We’ll cover the best equipment for moving small and large quantities of earth, the ins and outs of handheld and mounted post hole diggers, plus the advantages of skid steers in confined work spaces.
First up are the mighty mini loaders, also known as dingos. These are good for sites with tight access, such as up the side of a house for working in the backyard.
With mini loaders you stand on the back of the machine rather than in a cabin, and operate through lever controls. You can add attachments to it, such as a bucket, a post hole borer, trench digger or soil leveller. A mini loader’s great for bringing dirt into the garden for building beds or terraces, building a rock wall or replacing a lawn, but it doesn’t pack the power for more substantial tasks.
Skid steer loaders
Skid steer loaders are more powerful than mini loaders, plus they lift more and they can lift it higher. They turn by skidding the tyres with each side able to operate independently enabling them to spin on the spot, hence the name ‘skid’ steer.
This steering method means skid steers have very tight turning circle, which is handy in confined spaces like the side of the house or small yards confined by fences.
There are small and large size skid steers depending on how much earth you need to move and how quickly.
One problem with skid steers is they make a lot of mess when they turn, so you wouldn’t use one on your manicured croquet lawn – they will tear it up.
Skid steers have tracks or wheels, depending on the terrain. Tracks put more surface area between the ground and the machine, so you need them when the ground is sandy or muddy and it’s hard to get traction.
Dumpers are often used in conjunction with an excavator. They’re like a skip on wheels, moving loads of earth away from the excavation site, say to a stationary skip out on the kerb. They don’t pick up their own dirt, they need to be loaded.
You use dumpers when there’s a lot of dirt from an excavation that needs relocating to be carted away. So, if you were digging a backyard pool with an excavator, you’d put the soil into the dumper and the dumper takes it out to the truck or skip around the front.
If you’re digging footings for house extension, drains, excavating pools, ponds or dams, you need an excavator.
For small to medium projects such as drains, trenches and pools, the 1-tonne mini excavator will do the job. However, for medium to large projects there are machines up to 8 tonnes with a digging depth of 4.6m.
Bookended by these two models is a range of sizes. Keep in mind that you have to be able to get the excavator to the dig location, which could be a problem for the larger machines.
Also remember that you need a way of removing the soil once it’s excavated, for which you could use a dumper and a skid steer or mini-loader. It all depends on the amount of earth involved.
Post hole diggers
With post hole diggers, it’s all about the size of the hole you want. If you were digging holes for a fence around the house, you would use a one-person hole digger. This is hand-held and runs on a two-stroke engine. These small machines (about 10kg) are ideal for fence post holes, planting shrubs or soil testing. They can bore holes of up to 150mm in diameter, to a depth of 600mm.
Next in terms of size is the heavier, two-person digger with auger options of 150mm, 200mm, 250mm and 300mm. It can dig down to 600mm, but an extension bar will give you an additional metre.
Then there’s the cantilever digger with augers up to 350mm diameter holes for piers, fence and retaining wall posts. Because the machine is mounted on a frame with wheels, it’s easy to use and manoeuvre. Despite its 80kg weight, one person can operate it easily thanks to the mobile frame. With a cantilever post hole digger, you’ll need a trailer to transport it from the branch to your site.
The ultimate post hole digger is a mini loader with a digger attachment. It can dig a hole up to 600mm in diameter to a depth of two metres with an extension.
These many options for digging and earthmoving machines are all available from Kennards Hire. And if you’re unsure about which one to use on your project, ask the team at your local branch for their advice.