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What Is A Backhoe? Its Uses and Benefits

What Is A Backhoe? Its Uses and Benefits

Backhoe loaders are heavy-duty pieces of equipment that can be used for a variety of tasks. Primarily excavation machines, they can do double-duty because they have working implements on both the front and the back of a tractor body.

A backhoe can dig to depths of 12 to 14 feet and can range from 20 to upwards of 100 horsepower (hp). Their versatility makes them a popular piece of construction equipment for tasks ranging from uprooting trees to moving material on work sites.

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What is a Backhoe?

A backhoe loader consists of three main parts: a tractor situated between a loader at the front of the machine and the backhoe at the rear.

The term “backhoe” can be confusing because it can refer both to the attachment behind the machine and, as a form of shorthand, to the machine as a whole. To clarify the difference, here are a couple of quick definitions.

  • Backhoe loader: The construction vehicle itself as a whole.
  • Backhoe arm: The loader bucket that can be attached to machines (such as a bulldozer, excavators, loaders).

The backhoe can be confused with an excavator because they’re both used for digging and they both have articulated (or jointed) booms with a bucket at the end. Excavators, however, don’t have a loader in front.

what is a backhoe

The backhoe loader consists of stabilizer legs, the tractor, the backhoe, the bucket, the cab, and the front end loader.

  • Tractor: A main part of the backhoe loader.
  • Front loader: The backhoe bucket in front of the loader that lifts and moves material using a hydraulic system.
  • Backhoe: The rear component of the loader, equipped with a digger bucket that’s sometimes called a dipper stick.
  • Stabilizer legs: Located behind the rear wheels, these are used for safety and to prevent the loader from tipping over.
  • Bucket: The bucket at the end of the loader are used to dig holes and uproot trees.
  • Cab: The component above the tractor which protects the operator from any flying objects or debris.

How is a Backhoe Used?

There are a number of pieces of heavy equipment that you might consider using on a job site. Wheel loaders, skid steers, mini-excavators, and other options are available from companies like Caterpillar, Bobcat, John Deere, and JCB. So, why and when should you consider choosing a backhoe?

what is a backhoe used for

Backhoes are known for their versatility and maneuverability. They can be used on many job sites and can navigate rough terrain. They’re well suited to tasks such as digging, loading, trenching, and backfilling. They’re not just for construction projects, either. They can be used for agricultural, landscaping, paving, and other projects too.

Landscaping Projects

Backhoe loaders can be suited for:

  • Digging up trees and moving them to new locations.
  • Moving heavy loads of boulders, rocks, dirt, or gravel.
  • Paving roads
  • Paving parking lots

Construction Projects

On a construction site, backhoes can be used for:

  • Small demolition tasks.
  • Material transport or cleaning up a worksite.
  • Breaking up pavement.

Agriculture/Farming Projects

What to Consider When Choosing a Backhoe

Once you’ve decided a backhoe can help you with your project, you’ll have more decisions to make about the type you need. Backhoes come in different sizes, some more powerful than others. Bucket capacities and digging depths vary as well. Then there are costs to consider. Here are some factors you’ll want to look at when you consider renting or purchasing a backhoe.

Digging Depth

The digging depth of your backhoe can vary based on the size. Compact backhoes can dig up to 6-8 feet down, and larger models able to dig 14 feet down. You’ll want to ask yourself how deep you need to go, whether you’re uprooting trees or digging a hole for a swimming pool.

Bucket Size

Consider the bucket size of your backhoe. For heavier loads, you may need a larger backhoe bucket. A standard backhoe can lift between 5,500 and 8,200 pounds, with bucket sizes ranging from 12 to 36 inches.

Amount of Horsepower

Consider the amount of horsepower you will need. BigRentz offers backhoes for rent that range from 20 hp for a Terramite mini-backhoe, 60 to 89 hp for a standard John Deere 310/CASE 580 backhoe, and 109 hp for a large John Deere 410/CASE 590.

Type of Job and Attachments

Examine the job and environment you’ll be operating in. You may benefit from certain backhoe attachments. Buckets aren’t the only attachments available for backhoes. Other tools that can be fitted to a backhoe’s boom include augers, grapples, hammers, rippers, and thumbs.

Types of Backhoe Attachments

Backhoe loader attachments are as diverse as the jobs you need to do. Whether you’re moving hay, digging post holes, sweeping away debris or snow, moving pallets, or some other task, you can choose a backhoe attachment to help you complete your job efficiently and on time.

  • Augers: Corkscrew-shaped auger bits of different sizes are used to drill holes into various materials, including wood, dirt, and gravel.
  • Compactors: These attachments are designed to compact earth, using thousands of pounds of force to tamp down soil on trenches and excavations. They can also be used to drive in sheeting on retaining walls.
  • Hammers: Also known as breakers, hammers are used in demolition and earth preparation to break up soil, rock, and other obstacles, which can then be cleared away.
  • Snow handlers: These attachments can be used to clear away piles of snow during the winter months. Attachments include snow blades, blowers, buckets, pushers, angle brooms, and V-blades. Backhoe loaders can both lift snow and compact it, and can be effective handling wet, heavy snow.
  • Rippers: Shark tooth-shaped rippers are great for cutting quickly through thick materials such as ice, rock, permafrost, and asphalt.
  • Couplers: Couplers allow you to swap out attachments without leaving the cab of your backhoe.
  • Brooms or street sweepers: Wire brushes are made to clear away debris or snow on the worksite.

benefits of a backhoe

Benefits of a Backhoe

The benefits of a backhoe are numerous. Here are some reasons you might want to consider using one on your construction site or other project.

  • Backhoes can operate on several different types of terrain, including rocky soil or rough ground. They can tackle both flat surfaces and inclines.
  • Backhoes are versatile. They come with a bucket and digging arm that can perform many different tasks, such as digging, small demolitions, moving materials, landscaping, breaking asphalt, and paving roads. Attachments can expand the range of what they can do.
  • Backhoes are offered in several sizes. For a small job, try a compact backhoe. If you need more horsepower or digging depth, then larger sizes are available.
  • Backhoes are stable machines. A backhoe’s stabilizers help keep it from tipping over and provide it with greater leverage. Machines equipped with rollover protection and seat belts provide added safety.

You don’t need a license to operate a backhoe, but it helps to have a commercial driver’s license if you’re transporting this machine from one place to another. Operators also should be trained and understand the safety measures they must take.

What is the Difference Between a Backhoe and an Excavator?

One decision you may need to make when choosing the proper piece of equipment for your worksite is whether to use a backhoe or an excavator. An excavator is a piece of shoveling equipment that is larger and heavier than a backhoe.

Backhoes have a much greater selection of attachments and can be driven on the road.

Excavators are better choices for projects like demolition, mining, and large industrial projects. Backhoes are the preferred option for tasks such as snow removal, farming, loading, and medium-sized construction and excavation projects.


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Backhoe Rentals

Backhoe rentals can be a better option than purchasing a machine. Buying a piece of heavy equipment can be expensive, and that’s before you factor in costs such as maintenance, repair, and depreciation.

Purchasing a backhoe loader can cost $15,000 to $80,000. By contrast, you can rent a standard backhoe from BigRentz for roughly $287 a day, $822 a week, and $2,128 a month. Contractors equipment insurance is required.

If you would like to rent a backhoe, please visit our website.

Explore All Backhoes

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