Best machine to use for leveling, pavers, stone

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by greatlawns, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. greatlawns

    greatlawns LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 34

    Hey guys, I'm fairly new to hardscaping, so I just wanted to get some opinions on the best equipment to use for clearing/leveling areas. I only want to get one machine and wanted to get input so I don't make a mistake. There's been times that I've bought equipment only to find that I could/should have gotten something different, had I had the experience to know better.

    For this general purpose (plus the occasional big mulch job, re-grading a lawn, moving stone around, etc) would you recommend a skid steer or something like a compact Kubota front end loader to get the job done best? I am looking to get the most versatile all-around machine that has the most uses. Both have their pros and cons so I'm asking the experts.

    What do you all think?
  2. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    Get a skid steer and never look back. If you ever need to do alot of excavating for a wall or something, just sub it out.
  3. kreft

    kreft LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,645

    Skidsteer!!!!!!!!!tons Of Attachments To Get The Job Done!
  4. waltero

    waltero LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    The problem with hardscaping is that all of the pallets are very heavy. If you get a machine it should be the largest one that you can afford. You will have to be able to excavate the area be it a patio, walkway, wall, or anything else. bring all the materials in and move the pallets around.

    Now I come from a different background then most in that I started with a tractor with a loader and backhoe. Tractors don't have enough power for hardscaping but I just picked up this year a Ingersoll-rand BL-570 Backhoe/Loader and I have to say that it does all I need for hardscaping. I haven't used a skid very much so again, I look at this from a different point of view. The BL-570 is just like a bobcat in that they made almost an identical model for bobcat, quick attach bucket, x-change system, hydraulics both front and rear and I have loads of power. I have some other post about it with a pdf of the specs if you want to look at it.

    I find that with a machine like this I can do almost everything a skid could do and a mini-ex. I paid $28,000 for mine with 67 hrs on the meter. The only two negative things that I can say about the machine is that it can be a little top heavy but I can swing the backhoe around to counter that, and it is heavy at almost 10,000 lbs. But for the price I can deal with those and any machine that you will get will have some good points and bad points. Let me know if you want more info, I actually know where there is another one that is a good price.
  5. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 601

    Go with a skidsteer and keep going, buy a track machine if you can swing the extra coin. I would strongly advise not taking the route of "I can always buy the over the tire tracks if I need them". Those machines, though better than tires have nothing on a true track unit. We run a t300 and are in the process of buying a t190, we will keep an 873 with tires for running on pavement when needed. The only other thing I can say, and I have no fact to back this is that machines with tires have better ground speed, but for traction which you'll need to dig,grade, push boulders, etc, you can't beat tracks, same as far as lift, another thing my boss swears to and I have not investigated is that a t190 is essentially the same machine as an old 773, except that equipped with tracks it lifts and additional 1,000 pounds.
  6. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 601


    Who are you using for any excavating you need????
  7. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    If you buy a CTL, do the math and figure out the Cost Per Hour. The additional undercarriage costs make it a much higher figure, while you may only need a tracked machine for 1 out of every 10 hours you run it.

    Tracks are sexy, but not always a financially practical solution.
  8. waltero

    waltero LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    I agree, this is his first machine and I doubt he needs a tracked machine.

    The biggest problem with getting into this kind of work is the cost of tools, machines, trucks, insurance, etc.... Not everyone needs a tracked machine. I was interested in getting a skid and a mini-ex, but good luck brought me a loader backhoe for only $28,000. The biggest factor in my purchase was how much machine I got for the dollars that I spent. To buy a new skid/mini-ex with the same powers would have put me closer to $100,000.00 and I admit they would have been better, but at what cost and more importantly, what return would I see on my investment. Everyone is different, I am for the most part run a very small crew, but if you run larger crews and get many more jobs per year and can keep those machines busy, it may pan out for you.

    It sounds like you want a good all around machine, skid steer is probably your best option, Kubota/John Deere tractors are nice but are not very useful for hardscaping. If you want to be able to dig also, maybe a machine like mine will work for you. Look at the specs and compare them up against any other machine and see how it stacks up. I am not saying it is for everyone but it is a good solid machine that is capable of doing 95% of the work out there that is involved in hardscapes. The other times when a tracked machine is needed it is best just to rent it for that small period of time. Again, everyone is different so you have to look at your needs.
  9. greatlawns

    greatlawns LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 34

    Thanks guys for all the info. Do any of you use any backhoe, auger attachments for planting trees or digging to any depth? If so, how do the attachments for a skid compare to using a traditional backhoe?

    Any skid steer brands you can recommend? Engine size to look for? Diesel or gas engine? Things to look for or watch out for?

    I'm looking for something fairly cheap. I certainly can't afford a nice $25,000 machine, so I'm going to have to pick something used. So, my choices of brands is limited to what's available used, but do you have any suggestions for brands/models/options to look for. There are so many out there, what's the best route to go?

  10. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    I would try to stay with the company that you get your mowers from, asumming they sell excavating equipment. That way you are getting better service since you have a relationship already built.

    I sub all my excavating out and rent a MT55/Dingo when needed. You just have to weigh your situations pros and cons.

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