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Guide to Operating Landscaping Equipment

Training your employees on how to use landscaping equipment correctly can be one of the biggest pain points for a contractor. As your go-to source for equipment, we at Alban CAT also want to help train your employees on how to operate our machinery correctly.

This free guide will help new landscapers learn the best practices of operating our Cat machinery, best machines for landscaping tasks, and safety guidelines all employees should follow.

When you’re getting into the landscaping business, you’re going to need some big equipment to process those orders the right way and not give everyone on staff a hernia as they deadlift all your sod and materials.

The two big pieces of equipment you’ll need from day one are a mini excavator and a multi-terrain loader. Grading a two-acre plot can take days when you have to hand-rake it. Grab a Caterpillar® loader and excavator to knock it out in a few hours because this can make all the difference in the world as you get started.

These two pieces of machinery can save you thousands of dollars in labor for each job and that means you’re getting your money’s worth in short order.

When Do You Need a Mini Excavator?

Mini excavators such as the Cat 302.7D deliver great maneuverability for a wide variety of landscaping jobs that need small or large-scale grading, breaking, clearing or digging.

Caterpillar has developed a wide range of minis that provide the operator ample room and comfort to reduce the chance of accidents and make a full day doable inside the beast.

So you’ve got your eyes on one of these great “toys” but you’re wondering if this is the right fit for your landscape operations? Here are some of the most common tasks that mini excavators are used for and some great models that can help you with each task.

Augering Using a mini excavator auger attachment, you can quickly dig post holes or create enough space for planting large trees and gardens. If your landscaping includes small unit constructing, augers can dig footings for decks and more.
Model Suggestion: The Cat 300.9D Mini Hydraulic Excavator supports the 2 way auger auxiliary lines and has a low-enough clearance to dig in almost any spot you’ve got.

Using a mini excavator auger attachment, you can quickly dig post holes or create enough space for planting large trees and gardens. If your landscaping includes small unit constructing, augers can dig footings for decks and more.
Model Suggestion: The Cat 300.9D Mini Hydraulic Excavator supports the 2 way auger auxiliary lines and has a low-enough clearance to dig in almost any spot you’ve got.
Angled blades allow excavators to provide high-quality grading, while a powerful bucket can help you grade around the contours of your specific job site. Buckets provide a significant range of motion, while curved blades can help you backfill and level like a pro.
Model Suggestion: The 302.7D CR features a 61.9-inch blade that can do powerful leveling and grading on your site. Its bucket offers 5058.0 lbs. of force, meaning it can finish off any windows that form.
Busting Concrete
Excavators support a variety of secondary tools that make them demolition behemoths. Adding a hammer to the mix can turn your mini excavator into the right tool for ripping up a pool, clearing out driveways or even knocking out that retaining wall.
Model Suggestion: The 301.7D supports a range of compact hammers including the CAT H35E and its boom will provide you with enough room to knock out just about any structure that you need to remove for landscaping purposes.
Lots of jobs require trenching and ditch cleaning, making powerful buckets your best friend. Just about every mini excavator can provide a trenching function but some of the more powerful models will include support for specialized trenching and ditch cleaning buckets.
Model Suggestion: The Cat 302.4D generates 4900.0 lbs. of bucket force and can clear any trench you need for loading materials, slope cutting or final touchup. The best thing about this model is that it offers supports for a wide range of trench buckets.
Excavators are a best bet when it comes to the hardscaping you need done. They offer a strong, reliable machine that’s still flexible enough to avoid a mishap in the garden. These aren’t dainty butterflies, but they’re agile enough to not trample on the flowers as you move plants or place objects like boulders.
Model Suggestion: We like the 302.2D for general purpose work because of its smart blade, bucket and hammer capabilities. The light mounted to its boom will help you get the job done no matter what time it is, and optional auxiliary lines can provide you with a better overall experience and control.

Learn about your landscape equipment rental options, especially when it comes to mini excavators, by visiting Alban CAT today.

Operating a Mini Excavator

Mini excavators offer a range of specialized equipment and functions that will be great for your landscaping operations. However, their use can be a little confusing if you’re new to this type of machinery.

Your best bet is to work with a licensed dealer like Alban CAT to set up a training session, and perform a test of new functions and operations on a level surface. Alban is also the best place to learn about used mini excavators for sale or Cat compact track loader options. Contact a local rep today.

Before anyone uses it in the field, test out the controls and limitations of any new device. Also, you’ll want to start out on solid ground because these can tip if you’re goofing off. Log several hours of practice with the boom controls, pedals, console controls and other cockpit items so you’re comfortable with the operation and size of your beast.

Safety Tips for Your New Mini Excavator

Mini excavators are big machines with a lot of power and heart, but they’re not always gentle creatures. You need to pay a lot of attention and ratchet up the common sense when you’re using an excavator in any of your projects.

One of the chief things to do is to properly secure your work area, especially if you’re digging deep in any residential area. Always call before you do — you probably know that, but it never hurts to add a reminder to call 811 or the proper number for your area to get the utility lines marked. On the day you’re working the job site, be sure to address any overhanging limbs and power lines. Work away from these if possible.

If you can’t clear away limbs or get out from underneath power lines, your excavator operator needs a partner with a whistle, walkie-talkie or something else that’s loud. This spotter will watch for any clearance issues and provide an immediate warning if there’s a danger.

Your spotter needs to know the equipment just like the operator, that way they know that the 308E2 CR SB has a swift swing boom with a turn radius over 10’ or that the 301.7D CR doesn’t need clearance much higher than its cage while you’re storing it.

These Cat excavators use hydraulics to provide all the oomph you need, but that comes with some special warnings. Pressure can be trapped in hydraulic systems and you’ll need to release this pressure before performing any maintenance. Every Cat is a little different, so read up on the best way to remove this pressure.

Improperly removing pressure or starting maintenance before you relieve the pressure can cause the machine or any attachment to jump, and you don’t want a boom lift to go “boom” on any person or landscape.

There’s only so much you can learn from manuals, so don’t neglect training services that can prepare you for any mini excavators rental or purchase.

Panel Displays in Landscape Equipment Rental


Caterpillar has designed most of its mini excavators to have easy-to-read display panels in the cockpit. It often sticks with the COMPASS design:

  • Complete control panel with interior and computer support
  • Operation pattern changes and uses to help monitor hydraulics and fuel gages
  • Maintenance information for intervals, diagnostics and work hours since prior service
  • Performance level monitors for various modes including its Eco-friendly option
  • And (sometimes you’ve got to make the acronym fit right)
  • Security and antitheft options with various password levels
  • Systems controls with ergonomic design for comfort

The maintenance and performance panels are your best friend when it comes to properly caring for your excavator. Manuals will provide you with some simple service standards and intervals for maintenance. The panels can help you stick to these schedules and show any issues that may crop up.

Most excavators offer you easy-access for service, such as a lifting side-hood where you can quickly get to the air filter, implement value, fuel filters and hydraulic tank. Your back will thank the Cat excavator for this, especially compared to some competitors who require lifting the cab for service.

Models such as the 308E2 CR SB include the Caterpillar ProductLink™ system that will allow you to monitor machine hours and service codes from a central location so you don’t have to always be in the field to know what your machines need.
Learn more about the operational controls and safety features of the 308E2 and other excavators by speaking with one of the best CAT partners in the business.

What’s a Multi Terrain Loader?


Flesh out your landscaping rental equipment by considering a great Cat loader.

Multi-terrain loaders are track-based loaders that operate the same way that a skid steer loader does, just without the wheels. The multi terrain option is perfect for your landscaping business because it’s designed to travel on softer terrain and dig up less ground as you maneuver around. They’re the bulk of landscape equipment rental needs for most jobs.

The main tasks that you’ll be using a multi terrain loader for is digging up and transporting dirt and earth because this takes a lot of the hard work off your plate. These little guys also provide enough power that you can haul other items or pick up a few equipment attachments to grade cement, till the soil, grind down a stump. You can even rake the earth in order to pulverize, aerate, level and condition the soil while grabbing large rocks and debris.

It’s hard to get a handle on just what these little workhorses can do. They’ll be your best employee with a little care because they can meet most jobs you’ll encounter.

Multi-terrain loaders from Alban CAT support a wide range of work tools/attachments including:
Augers Backhoes
Blades (angle, dozer) Buckets (general purpose,
high capacity, dirt,
utility, light material,
industrial grapple,
utility grapple)
Brooms (angle, pickup, utility) Brush-Cutters
Cold Planers Forks (pallet,
industrial grapple,
utility grapple,
Hydraulic Hammers Landscape Tillers
Hydraulic Hammers Landscape Tillers
Landscape Rakes Material Handling Arm
Power Box Rakes Snow Blowers
Stump Grinders Trenchers
Vibratory Compactors Wheel Saws

That’s a big list. Need a little help making it easier? We’ve got you covered thanks to a quick coupler system, so our machines can add or remove these great tools with a little manual work on your end. With two high-leverage handles, changing is swift. If you’re a big fan of the bucket seat, there’s also an optional hydraulic quick coupler that lets you switch tools without leaving the cab.

Reach out today to see what multi-terrain loaders are available, and how each and every model can fit your needs.

Get a Power Lifter

Cat multi terrain loaders come with a variety of settings for each job you throw at them, but they’re sweet enough to tell you what they can do ahead of time. For lift linkages, you’ll have your choice of two lifting arrangements, each suited for a specific need you’ll come across during landscaping.

The 257D and 287D each offer a vertical lift design that’s made to help you get lots of materials off and on to your trucks, plus manage higher jobs and impacts. The 277D uses a radial lift design that can give you improved performance on all of your digging jobs, while still supporting some low and mid-lift jobs you’ve got.

Buckets sit close to the loader when they’re in the down position, allowing for digging and scooping, while maintaining balance and integrity of design. Vertical lifts will move the bucket upward in a very shallow arc so you won’t lose any stability or need to maneuver as you’re raising the arm. Since you’ll be sitting in a reclined position relative to the bucket, once it’s eye-level you’ll have a few feet between you and the bucket; afterwards it’s almost a straight vertical movement.

However, radial lifts use an arc to move the bucket away from the loader, so it’s always about the same distance from the body of the loader. This can give you more stability as you lift, perfect for moving plants or pathway stones around a yard to a new location.

No matter what you’re looking at, you’ll get a lot of strength and ability move around whatever you need through the job site. Check in with Alban CAT for any great compact track loader for sale.

Lift designs are some of the best options to look at when considering your purchase of any multi terrain loader. Beyond that, you’ll want to consider the overall oomph you need and make sure the engine on your loader of choice can meet your vigorous requirements.

Unique Cat Properties


One great thing about Cat multi-terrain loaders like the 247B Series 3 is that they come with an anti-stall system, which you won’t find on models from many other manufacturers. The system allows you to keep your machine power maxed by matching engine torque with what you’re doing. Even when you push the throttle, these great loaders will work hard to sip only a little fuel and perform at their best.
Models like the 257D multi-terrain loader also offer an electronic throttle system so you can set a precise RPM. This allows you to maintain precise control over the vehicle with ease, maintaining RPMs as you travel and use tools. The high-idle option allows you to use the throttle as a decelerator pedal, so you can quickly move to a job site and then engage for precision earth moving.

Cat models also feature pedal stabilizers that help you travel at a consistent speed even over rough ground. If you’re bouncing around and that pedal foot keeps slipping, your Cat loader will recognize the sign, and make adjustments to give you a steadier ride and keep your speed at an even pave.

Swift Service

While your Cat dealer can help you out with maintenance and service, each multi terrain loader is designed to help you access and service vital areas quickly.

Not only is ProductLink available on some models, but you will also get access through a rear door that opens 90 degrees, allowing for plenty of space around the engine. Cabs tilt forward so you can access the hydraulic pumps and tank, plus lines, motors and valves. Your loader will also feature a standard S·O·S oil-sampling valve to ease the monitoring of the hydraulic oil quality.

Quick service can make that 277D your best bet this season, especially as the weather changes come.

Meeting Your Needs

No matter what you’re doing in the yard, Alban CAT is there to help with a multi-terrain loader for sale, used excavators for sale or any top mini excavator rental.

These loaders and excavators can help as you design and build your landscaping, irrigation and nurseries with special equipment just for soil separation, laying sod, managing the earth and removing stumps or un-level fields.
Picking up the right equipment can help take the strain off you and your workers, so everyone gets the job done faster, safer and with a few less aches and pains.

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