I agree with dvs.
We do a mix of commercial and residential and do not not use the "biggest" machines out there. A good full skid loader will do you just fine. We run sv300s, l190s, and t190s all are full size loaders that cas pick up pallets of blocks and sod just fine.
I would certainly get a skid before a mini ex unless your in the business of pools or something you need to dig deep. A skid will do just fine to take out a foot or so to get your tb in. Plus you can move pallets, material, and finish grade the property when your finished.
We have a backhoe and did about 10 or so patio projects this year and not once did we take the backhoe or use a mini on one project but we did use a loader on everyone of them.
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