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Working Smarter — Not Harder — With the Right Landscape Attachments

It’s all about labor and time savings with these landscaping attachments.

When talking about attachments, we often start with the fact that the machine — whether it’s a skid steer, a compact track loader (CTL), a backhoe or a wheel loader — is the base platform that allows the owner/operator to do a job. The base purchase of that machine comes with a standard bucket, which is great for many applications.

That’s table stakes. Having a breadth of attachments with the right machine provides a number of distinct advantages:

  • The ability to bid on and perform a broader variety of jobs
  • The ability to increase productivity/reduce the labor costs that go into a job
  • Allow the operator to spend more time in the cab and less time exposed to hazards by getting in and out of the cab
  • Reduce the total number of machines required on a jobsite and allocate laborers to other tasks
  • Improve utilization by allowing the owner to carry fewer machines in total while adding more billable hours to a single machine (which lowers that machine’s total cost of ownership).

In many cases, the addition of some very powerful attachments can be utilized with the standard auxiliary hydraulics found on most of today’s machines. Here are some of the top attachments for landscapers and how they allow operators to work smarter, and not harder.

The CASE 4-in-1 Bucket

A CASE original (via Drott Manufacturing), the 4-in-1 bucket was originally developed at CASE’s Customer Center in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

The name is misleading, in ways. There are actually five traditional functions/uses for that bucket: loader bucket, clam shell/grapple, dozer, scraper and bottom-dump bucket. This allows the operator to perform a wide variety of tasks on any given landscape site without ever having to get out of the machine, and it can significantly cut down on the amount of handwork required and the time spent switching from attachment to attachment.

For more on the functionality of a 4-in-1 bucket, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyEClghfFOM

Lawn Preparator

Back in the day, the mark of a master landscaper was how expertly they could wield an aluminum landscape rake, and how quickly they could complete their section of the seedbed before the other guy. There were a variety of lawn rake attachments for skid steers that did a good job of removing bulky materials, but the handwork afterwards was still required.

The lawn preparator game has changed considerably as the technology has advanced. Today’s models do a good job of removing the bulk waste while leaving the finer loam behind in the seedbed while operating in reverse (many of the models of yesteryear would also remove a good amount of topsoil). Then, once the bulk material is removed, the operator can drive that machine and attachment forward to achieve a tilling action that creates a seedbed more than two inches deep. This makes for excellent growing conditions — and while some fine handwork may still be required — it helps to increase productivity and lower total physical labor on the jobsite.

CASE Hydraulic Pallet Forks with Nursery Sleeves

After the standard bucket, pallet forks are arguably the landscapers’ best friend when it comes to attachments. Most landscapers will remember the days before hydraulic pallet forks when, to get the forks into the desired position, you’d have to get out of the machine and do it manually. Today’s hydraulic pallet forks automate that activity for the operator from the comfort of their seat in the cab – and the addition of nursery sleeves makes it easier to grab and place nursery stock on and off trucks, and close to their final planting spot. This essentially gives you two attachments in one, helps make sure the operator spends more time in the cab instead of getting in and out, and helps prevent damage to nursery stock, especially large mature trees with wrapped burlap root balls.

CASE Dozer Blades

From both a cost and a transportation standpoint, it is not practical for many traditional landscapers to own a bulldozer. Much of the fine grading work is performed with the skid steers or CTLs they already own. Many operators have lamented the inability of the standard bucket to easily shed material to one side or the other while pushing in a straight line. And then what do you do with all the material that has built up inside your bucket?

It’s worth noting that CASE has addressed this on a larger, deliberate scale with the introduction of its concept “Project Minotaur”, the first-ever purpose-built compact dozer loader (CDL) — you can read more here: https://www.casece.com/northamerica/en-us/resources/articles/case-introduces-the-dl450-the-industrys-first-ever-fully-integrated-compact-dozer-loader

What landscapers can do now is add a dozer blade to their existing skid steers and CTLs. This dozer blade is capable of angling 30 degrees to the left or the right, and tilting up to 10 degrees, allowing for more fine grading ability than what is capable with a standard bucket. It also provides landscapers and residential contractors with dozer-like performance scaled both to their jobsites and their transportation capabilities.

CASE Sectional Snow Pusher

Many landscapers in northern climates are already engaged in the snow removal business. If not, the addition of a sectional snow pusher immediately makes the machine it’s attached to considerably more billable throughout the course of the year – helping to lower its total cost of ownership (greater profitability = lower total asset cost).

The sectional snow pusher takes that time and cost savings even further, however. The sectional snow pusher features individual sectional moldboards that move up and down with the contour of the asphalt or pavement they are working on. This helps achieve the following:

  • More snow and ice removed on the first pass, increasing productivity and reducing rework (and the associated wear and tear on the machine)
  • A smoother ride for the operator
  • Up to 50 percent less salt use because more snow and ice is removed on the first pass
  • Less damage to equipment: if one of the sections becomes damaged, that section can be replaced instead of replacing the entire pusher/box
  • Less damage to property as the pusher “gives” when it comes into contact with an obstacle

(The previous article “Working Smarter — Not Harder — With the Right Landscape Attachments” was archived on December 13 2017 via http://caseatwork.com.)

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