In landscaping, machines play a vital role when it comes to moving soil and shaping the land. Knowing which machine is right for your job will save time, money and reduce potential damage to existing infrastructure and soil quality. Get the advice of a professional, such as a builder or landscaper, before engaging a sub-contractor.

So what do you need to know about earthmoving equipment? Digging holes or shifting soil and gravel by hand is alright up to a point. But as the job gets bigger, bringing in some earthmoving equipment will be more cost effective and kinder on the body. The smaller of these are mini diggers which are often referred to by their brand name, such as Dingo or Kanga. These are designed to fit smaller areas and through garden gates which are wider than 950mm. In an hour, they can move material that would take most of us at least a day by hand. They are also great for cutting small trenches, auguring holes for posts and grading the soil in preparation for lawns.

A great mate for the mini digger is the mini excavator. Weighing in at about 1.5 tonne, it is also designed to fit into tight spaces. This combination is the ideal team for preparing for retaining walls around an established house or preparing trenches for cables and pipes.

As the job requirements expand, so too does the size of the equipment required to do the job efficiently. The larger the equipment, the more you are likely to pay per hour, but if the bigger excavator knocks the job off in half the time, you will save money.

Access is an important consideration for any machinery. If building a new house or extending an existing one, allowing machine access for future works will benefit you or future owners greatly.

If the weather becomes inclement, be patient with the operator. Continuing with the work when the soil is wet creates a mess and can compact the soil, making it more difficult to establish a garden.

There are many variations of earthmoving equipment, each suited to particular tasks. Most operators are happy to steer you in the right direction if their unit is not suitable.