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June 2009

Compact tractors useful for any landscaping project

Bobcat compact tractor with box blade

Bobcat compact tractors are popular with landscapers because they excel at ground-engaging work and leave a good finish.

Skid-steer, compact track, all-wheel steer and mini track loaders have long been considered the most useful machines on landscaping jobsites. But, for many landscape contractors, compact tractors are also growing in popularity — mainly because they too can perform so many tasks, and often, they offer some advantages. From soil preparation to maintaining the finished product, tractors help landscapers during any phase of their work.

Operator familiarity and comfort

Perhaps the biggest advantage of tractors for landscape contractors is familiarity. The controls on a tractor can be more intuitive than the joysticks and pedals found on compact loaders. It takes longer for operators to be trained and become proficient on other equipment compared with tractors, which means that more people on a crew will be able to operate the tractor when needed. More people operating, of course, translates to less idle time for a contractor’s equipment.

Ease-of-operation is important, but so is operator comfort. The more comfortable the operator, the more productive he or she will be. On Bobcat® compact tractors, comfortable, color-coded controls are within easy reach and the integrated joystick control for the front end loader is designed to allow easy access to either side of the operator station, even when the loader is mounted. An adjustable suspension seat, tilt steering, and open foot space make long hours on our tractors more comfortable. Bobcat Company offers an optional factory-installed cab on four of the company’s eight tractor models, and like on many other machines, cabs provide heat and air conditioning and remove the operator from other jobsite elements, such as dust on windy days, making work more enjoyable. Bobcat cabs have doors on both sides of the tractor, which is convenient because the machines are often parked next to buildings, fences and other obstructions. With a door on each side, additional maneuvering is not necessary for the operator to exit.

Ground-engaging work

One area where tractors particularly excel is ground-engaging work. Four-wheel drive assists with the tractive effort, allowing tractors to pull many types of implements.

Tractors come from an agriculture background. As one might expect, they handle landscaping tasks that are similar to tasks found on the farm, such as seeding or preparing soil. Soil cultivators, tillers and box blades are good tractor implements for performing these tasks. In fact, the seeder implement places seed accurately, at the right depth and with proper spacing, making it quite popular among landscape contractors.

A better finish

These ground-engaging implements are often available as attachments for other equipment, such as loaders. But one reason contractors prefer to use them on tractors involves the finish left behind compared to other machines. When these types of tasks are done with traditional loaders, the attachment is working in front of the machine. The operator must either drive in reverse or accept that tire tracks will be left over the finished work. A tractor is the opposite — the implement is behind the power unit, eliminating tire tracks over the finished ground surface as the tractor is driven forward.

Ground surface sensitivity is particularly important when working on established lawns. Replacing turf is costly and time-consuming, and something landscape contractors go to great lengths to avoid. A tractor can work effectively on established turf, but should be outfitted with the proper tires to minimize damage. Compared to agricultural or all-purpose tires, R3 turf tires have good flotation, making them the best tires to use in these situations.

Many believe compact tractors are best suited to covering large areas, but they are also helpful tools on smaller jobsites, such as creating yards in new residential developments. They are familiar, comfortable, and versatile, and they provide many advantages a landscape contractor needs, especially when working on established turf. It’s no wonder they’re becoming more and more common on typical landscaping job sites, right alongside traditional compact equipment.