Heavy Landscape Equipment
I have received a lot of input from customers and potential customers about projects requiring heavy equipment. I am an experienced heavy equipment operator with almost 40 years of experience operating a wide variety of equipment. Choosing the right approach to any job is the key to the key to the most efficient execution of the work and a proper end result. We do a lot of this type of work and have encountered a wide variety of different jobs over the past 14 years. What I am hearing is it is hard to find a company that does residential and small commercial land development and preparation. This is the first step to getting your project underway. People don't know whether to hire a tree service, excavation company or a landscaper. Sometimes a combination is needed. Lets take a look at what types of jobs can be encountered and possible solutions. You'll notice the running theme is as the old adage says: “use the right tool for the job every time”. The company you hire should be familiar with all aspects of site preparation and not be afraid of laboring as needed.
Demolition or tear out can involve the following materials and jobs:
- Cutting and removal of concrete, removal of asphalt, gravel, dirt, roots, building materials, garbage, haul away. Different materials require different approaches. • Vegetation removal, transplanting and or cleanup of existing plant material. We do some tree work ourselves, but some we have to contract out. A stump grinder is sometimes needed for stump removal and “surface grinding” of roots. An experienced grinder will know what roots must not be ground out and which ones are not going to compromise the trees health. Pine trees are not particularly susceptible to damage from any type of disruption to their roots. For complete removal of a fresh root mass, a trackhoe excavator may be helpful. Smaller trees can be taken out with a Bobcat and a grapple attachment. Stump grinding is often not thorough the first time as the mulch from the grindings builds up and the remaining roots cannot be detected. This is where a landscaper should be involved simultaneously and pull the mulch and dirt away to reveal the remaining roots so they can be eradicated and sodding and landscaping operations can be conducted without hindrance of stumps and roots. Typically the landscaper will be required to haul the mulch away, add dirt as needed, grade and prep. Always call 811 a few days before stump grinding. Vegetation must be “released” away from various structures – buildings, fence, pavers rather than simply ripping things out or property damage can occur. Tools such as axes and chainsaws are used to do this. We provide expert advice and service for horticultural pruning and transplanting of any plant material.
- Yard scalping - > Using a Bobcat. Depending upon the type of grasses and/ or weeds, a Bobcat can be used to “peel” the lawn up, usually on St. Augustine lawns. This can be a good technique because it does not involve digging below the surface of the ground. Therefore damage to sprinklers and utilities are avoided. It can also be helpful where there are a lot of trees roots that make it impossible to use a sod cutter, as you may damage the machine by hitting shallow roots with the cutting blade and possibly harm roots.
- Using a sod cutter. A sod cutter is a machine that cuts the roots of the lawn up to 3” or so below ground level. It is also useful for loosening up the ground to enable crews to grade the ground easier. If steps are not taken to identify above and underground obstacles before using the machine, it can do a lot of damage. • Using a mini excavator or “trackhoe”. A trackhoe is indispensable for yard tearout when muddy conditions are encountered. They are much lighter than a Bobcat since the bucket capacity is much smaller. They are very versatile and their rubber tracks can navigate through the mud without getting stuck or making huge ruts. A good operator can perform very precise operations with one. Their long reach enables the operator to reach areas without even traveling on them. They also have a bulldozer blade on them, very useful for grading and peeling sod up.
- Chemical removal. There are situations when using chemicals can be helpful. Areas like slopes that cannot be reached with any equipment may have to be killed chemically. In those situations the only alternative may be a trackhoe or hand work involving a pickax. A homeowner or a licensed chemical spraying contractor would have to apply the product.
- Grading Grading can involve more than the term itself may imply. This is because of elevations. The main thing to keep in mind when contemplating a grading plan is to allow for proper drainage. Existing land may need to be regraded, dirt taken off the property or more dirt added. What type of dirt to use in any given area must be addressed in the Soil Plan. Drainage is a whole different bklog but for now it is important to know that a proper grade sometimes requires the use of a surveyors transit and the knowledge of how to use one. Also different solutions for drainage and other challenges that affect the lay of the land must be addressed at this point because after a finish grade is completed comes landscape installation. As a side note keep in mind the terms rough grade, builders grade (which means within 10% of final grade) and a finish grade meaning ready for landscape installation.
- Hand work. Sometimes good old – fashioned hand work with a wheelbarrow, shovels and rakes are the best approach. It simply isn't worth the risk of property damage by trying to get equipment in an area that is too tight. • Using a walk – behind or riding mini – loader. These machines provide a light footprint, some models have tracks and some wheel type. They're very nimble and get in tight areas. The track machines can help avoid excessive rutting.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog. As I heard from a customer the other day regarding the renovation of a median strip for an Home Owner's Association (HOA) entrance in Seminole; “we can find a lot of companies who can put in plants, but we need someone who can do the hard work of getting the area ready for plants and can't seem to find anyone who knows what they're doing in this area. You have that ability and an approach that makes sense ans is affordable. You have a real niche.” I really took that comment to heart and it inspired me to write this blog. It is the right time of year to do this type of work because putting plants and trees in can get kind of sketchy this time of year.
Feel free to give us a call for your free expert consultation and estimate. Thank you for reading!