Essential Small Dirt Moving Equipment for Any Job Site

Matt at Centex Excavation
Author: MattPublished: April 4, 2023 Updated: January 14, 2024 • Filed Under: Equipment and Machinery

Key Takeaways

  1. Diverse Equipment Options: Small dirt moving projects can utilize a variety of equipment, including backhoe loaders, mini skid steers, compact excavators, and wheel loaders, each offering unique benefits and limitations for different tasks.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness and Versatility: Small dirt moving equipment like backhoe loaders and mini skid steers are cost-effective and versatile, suitable for tasks like excavation, trenching, loading, and material handling in tight spaces.
  3. Equipment Selection Based on Project Needs: Choosing the right equipment is crucial for project efficiency and safety. Factors like the size of the project, terrain, and specific job requirements should guide the selection of the most appropriate machinery.

When it comes to preparing the job site for a dirt moving project, having the right small equipment can make all the difference in terms of cost-effectiveness and efficiency. We’re providing you an overview of the essential small dirt moving equipment required for any job site, including haulers and tippers, diggers and loaders, compactors and rollers, as well as other excavating-related machinery.

By understanding the purpose of each machine and its functions, projects can be planned with greater accuracy and productivity.

Backhoe Loader– Cost-effective and versatile – Can perform excavation, digging trenches, loading, lifting, and material handling tasks – Comes with various accessories– Limited reach and digging depth – Difficulty maneuvering in tight spaces – Reduced lifting capacity compared to other heavy equipment – Not suitable for working on hard or rocky terrain
Mini Skid Steer– Powerful and versatile – Can handle various materials and tasks – Rubber tracks for navigating tight spaces and rough terrain – Can be rented– Size and weight capacity limitations – Not suitable for handling heavy attachments or lifting heavy loads – May sink in muddy terrain – Renting can be costly compared to larger equipment
Compact Excavator– Precise and accurate in tight spaces – Rubber tracks and range of attachments – Maneuverability around obstacles and difficult terrain– Smaller excavation capacity compared to larger excavators – May not handle certain materials or lift heavy loads – Renting can be costly compared to larger equipment
Wheel Loader– Versatile and efficient in various industries – High loading efficiency – Can carry large loads easily – Reduced operation costs– Smaller excavation capacity than an excavator – Not suitable for steep slopes, water, soft soil, or muddy roads – Smaller bucket capacity for large-scale projects – Lifting heavy loads can cause instability
Trencher– Precise and consistent trenching – Can assist with various tasks – Designed for tight spaces and moving materials easily– Tricky to use for installing certain features like curves or turns – Boom may bend or jam if not used correctly – Not suitable for working with strong and abrasive rock

Backhoe Loader

Backhoe Loader in the City
Backhoe loader in the city.

A backhoe loader is a multi-talented machine that brings together the powers of a tractor, loader and backhoe attachment. It can be used for excavation, digging trenches, loading, lifting and material handling – tasks usually done by larger excavators. But it’s more cost-effective than renting or buying other equipment such as small excavators.

Knowing what your backhoe loader can do and its limitations is key to any job site success.


Backhoe loaders are a top pick for many job sites due to their cost-effectiveness and versatility. They boast multiple benefits compared to other equipment, such as the capacity to dig trenches, transport materials, and provide accuracy and reliability. Plus, they come with an array of accessories like buckets, blades, and forks – allowing them to carry out various tasks.

Moreover, backhoe loaders offer a sense of security since they can be operated remotely. By understanding the advantages of using this type of loader contractors can make an educated decision on whether it’s suitable for their job site or not.


When considering the use of a backhoe loader, it’s essential to be aware of its restrictions. These include limited reach and digging depth, difficulty in maneuvering in tight spaces, and reduced lifting capacity compared to other heavy equipment. Backhoe loaders are also not suitable for working on hard or rocky terrain.

Moreover, they need specific training before being operated safely. All things considered, understanding the limitations of a backhoe loader is key when deciding if it’s the right tool for the job.

Mini Skid Steer

Mini Skid Steer Moving Dirt
Mini skid steer with rubber tracks on rough terrain

Mini skid steers are an ideal choice for any job site, offering a powerful and versatile tool for dirt moving. They can handle a variety of materials and be used in many tasks, from digging to landscaping to loading and unloading. Skid steer loaders feature rubber tracks and unique steering systems, allowing them to navigate tight spaces and rough terrain. Plus, they can be rented so you don’t have to buy one!

The DT series of skid steers is designed for smooth travel with plenty of power and maneuverability even in small areas. The e-Dingo series is perfect for indoor construction jobs as it has no fuel costs or exhaust emissions. With the wide range of attachments available, these machines can lift materials, excavate ground – all while providing a safe work environment when operated with proper safety equipment.

Mini skid steers are also great for landscaping projects since they cause minimal ground disturbance. The Equipter RB3000 mini skid steer is especially efficient at graveyard industry tasks like delivering soil, gravel or other materials. Knowing the benefits and limitations of this type of machine will help you make an informed decision about what’s best suited for your job site needs!


Mini skid steers boast versatility, the capacity to squeeze into tighter spaces, minimal ground disruption and operator safety and comfort. With four-wheel drive and a unique steering system, skid steers can navigate around objects, spin 360 degrees within their own length and traverse rough terrain. The rubber tracks on a skid steer also make it ideal for use on softer lawns as they cause less damage than wheels.

Mini skid steers are an excellent choice for small earth moving projects since they can be rented in various sizes and models. This allows job sites to get the right size machine for the task while completing the project quickly and efficiently. Equipped with a full range of attachment options, mini skid steers are capable of performing multiple tasks from lifting materials to excavating ground. The e-Dingo series is also suitable for indoor construction jobs due to its lack of fuel costs or exhaust emissions.

These features render the mini skid steer an invaluable tool for numerous projects – loading/unloading, project work & cleanup included! Its versatility enables it to cover distances rapidly over hard surfaces while its ability to fit into tight spaces & cause minimal ground disturbance makes it perfect for landscaping & other duties alike!


When selecting a mini skid steer, certain limitations must be taken into account. The size and weight capacity of a mini skid steer can restrict its ability to handle heavier attachments and lift heavy loads. Furthermore, the weight distribution of a wheeled skid steer may cause it to sink in muddy terrain. Additionally, renting a mini skid steer can be costly compared to larger excavators and backhoe loaders.

By understanding the restrictions of a mini skid steer, you can make an educated decision on which piece of equipment is most suitable for the job. For lighter projects, a mini skid steer is ideal due to its versatility, maneuverability and rubber tracks; however, for more demanding tasks large excavators or backhoe loaders might be better suited.

Comprehending the limits of the mini skid steer will guarantee that your job site has the right machinery needed to complete tasks safely and effectively.

Compact Excavator

Compact Excavator
Compact excavator with attachments on a construction site.

Compact excavators are a great choice for dirt moving jobs that require precision and accuracy in tight spaces. Rubber tracks and a range of attachments make them capable of completing various earth moving tasks, while their maneuverability allows them to move around obstacles, narrow spaces, and difficult terrain with ease. Digging, lifting, loading – these machines can do it all!

The JCB 19C-1E Electric Excavator is an excellent example of a compact excavator. It offers the same power as standard excavators without needing a combustion engine. This machine is perfect for digging and demolition projects as well as material handling on rough terrain. Plus, it has plenty of accessories and attachment options to get the job done right!

Another top pick is the Bobcat R2-Series, which comes equipped with a 5-inch LCD display plus depth check functions for added safety and accuracy. The DT series works well in landscaping, construction sites, cemeteries, golf courses or parks & trails maintenance; even nurseries or farms are no match for this powerful machine! With its maximum lifting capacity of 1,150 lbs., you can use it to dig up materials or load them onto trucks easily.

Compact excavators offer an ideal balance between power output and control over any job site – not to mention their smaller size makes them fuel efficient too! They’re designed specifically for jobs requiring agility in tight spots, so they’re perfect for residential or commercial projects alike.


Compact excavators offer a host of advantages that make them an ideal choice for residential and commercial projects. Lightweight and easy to transport, they are more cost-effective than larger excavators. Rubber tracks and attachments help them navigate tight spaces and tricky terrain, while their smaller size and engine make them fuel-efficient – leading to further savings.

Security features such as integrated depth check functions and hydraulic thumbs provide precision when digging graves or planting trees. Plus, with a range of models available that can accommodate different materials and accessories, these machines can tackle a variety of tasks from landscaping to golf course maintenance. Compact excavators offer the perfect solution for any project!


When considering a compact excavator, there are a few key points to remember. Firstly, they lack the depth and power for larger excavation tasks. Secondly, certain materials such as rocks or soil may be too much for them to handle. Lastly, they cannot lift heavy loads.

By understanding the physical limitations, operating capacity and horsepower of a compact excavator, you can make sure it is suitable for your job site. If you don’t have one on-site, then renting is an option – this way you can try out different models and find the perfect fit for your project.

In conclusion, compact excavators are ideal when agility and control in tight spaces is needed – with the right knowledge you’ll get just what’s required!

Wheel Loader

Wheel Loader with Dirt
Wheel loader with material handling capabilities

A wheel loader is a heavy machinery used for earthmoving, loading and carrying materials across a job site. It has a tractor-like cab with four large tires and a front-mounted bucket. It is commonly used in construction sites and excavation. Wheel loaders have a wide range of applications including landscaping, digging, loading and unloading materials, and transporting soil, debris, and other materials.

Wheel loaders come in different models and sizes, from small 70- to 79-horsepower models to larger 200- to 249-horsepower machines. BigRentz offers a variety of wheel loaders for rental, ranging from 2-cubic-yard articulating wheel loaders to larger models with Intelligent Leveling systems that provide features like dual direction self level, work tool return to dig, and work tool positioner capabilities.

Wheel loaders are a great choice for many dirt moving jobs, but it is important to understand the benefits and limitations of using one. By understanding the benefits and limitations of a wheel loader, you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is the right choice for your job site.


Wheel loaders are a type of heavy equipment used to transport materials from one place to another. They are capable of performing a wide range of tasks, such as moving large amounts of soil, debris and other materials. Additionally, they can be used for digging, landscaping and excavating purposes. Wheel loaders come with adjustable arms, removable buckets and adjustable heights for added security and efficiency. Their extensive range of movement and power make them an excellent choice for many dirt-moving jobs.

The advantages that wheel loaders offer are plentiful: fast walking speed; short working cycle time; high loading efficiency; versatility in various industries dealing with heavy loads; the ability to carry large loads easily; reduced operation costs – all these benefits make wheel loaders an ideal option for job sites due to their durability and ease of maintenance.


When using a wheel loader, there are certain things to bear in mind. Wheel loaders have a smaller excavation capacity than an excavator and can’t be used on steep slopes, potholes, water, soft soil or muddy roads. They also have a smaller bucket capacity than larger excavators so they’re not suitable for large-scale projects.

What’s more, lifting heavy loads can cause instability, which could lead to accidents and injuries. All in all, wheel loaders are great for many dirt moving jobs, but it’s essential to understand their limitations. Without proper operator training and knowledge of the risks associated with wheel loaders, they can become hazardous.

By being aware of the advantages and drawbacks of a wheel loader, you’ll be able to decide if it is right for your job site or not.


Trencher Digging a Trench for Wires
Trencher is a great piece of rental equipment.

Trenchers are a great addition to any job site, as they can assist with a range of tasks – from digging narrow trenches for pipes to lifting heavy materials and accessories for landscaping projects. These machines are designed to dig precise and consistent trenches in soil or concrete, and come in various sizes and models that fit into tight spaces and move materials easily. With the right small earth moving equipment, trenchers can get the job done quickly.

Trenchers are powered by either diesel or electric motors, while rubber tracks help them navigate through the ground with stability. If you don’t want to buy one outright, you can rent them from equipment rental stores so they can be used on different job sites.

When using a trencher, it’s essential to follow safety protocols for an efficient yet safe outcome.


Trenchers are a must-have on any job site, offering precise and consistent trenching. Their sharp front end can easily cut through soil and other materials for a smooth, clean cut – perfect for laying pipes or electrical cables, creating swales, and more. With the range of motion to dig holes of varying depths and lengths, trenchers are ideal for landscaping projects as well as industrial ones.

Safety is also key: accessories like blades and buckets help with digging while rubber tracks provide stability against the ground. Plus, their compact size makes them great for tight spaces or areas with limited access – making them an excellent choice even for small earth moving jobs.

By understanding what trenchers can do (and where they’re best used), you’ll be able to make the right decision when it comes to your job site needs.


Trenchers have some drawbacks that should be taken into account when using them. As they are restricted in their range of motion, it can be tricky to use them for installing certain features such as curves or turns. Moreover, if not used correctly in the trench, their boom may bend or jam – making it hard to remove without damaging the machine.

Trenchers also aren’t suitable for working with strong and abrasive rock since the sharp edge of its front end can become dull and damage the machine. Despite these limitations, trenchers still outshine excavators when it comes to producing precise cuts with less dust, vibration and noise.

By being aware of the trencher’s shortcomings, you can safely and effectively utilize them on any job site.

Operate Earthmoving Equipment Safely

Skid Steer on Trailer with Attachments

Operating earthmoving equipment safely is a must for any job site.

Whether it’s a backhoe loader, large excavator, small excavator, wheel loader or mini skid steer, safety protocols and proper training are key.

Machine operators should be aware of their environment, materials they handle and the risks that come with operating such equipment.

High-visibility clothing is essential and blind spots should be avoided at all costs.

Following manufacturer instructions and safety protocols when using the machinery is also important to ensure everyone’s safety.

Attention to detail, regular inspections and consistent training on safety standards & maintenance can help employees contribute to industrial & construction security.

Safety Tips

Safety is of paramount importance when operating earthmoving equipment on any job site. Here are some general safety tips when using this equipment—

  • Pre-operation inspection. Always inspect earthmoving equipment before use, and identify power lines and underground utilities.
  • Safety gear and communication. Operators must wear seat belts and maintain open communication while being aware of their surroundings. Avoid exiting by jumping out of the cab or off the equipment.
  • Avoid moving entrances/exits. Never enter or leave machinery while it’s in motion or operation.
  • Appropriate equipment selection. Ensure that skid steer loaders, backhoe loaders, dump trucks, and other heavy machinery have warranty coverage. Check that the rental company provides all necessary accessories for safe operation.
  • Training and awareness. Workers should be thoroughly trained on proper procedures for safely operating all machines they use. This ensures the safety and security of everyone on the job site.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure that everyone at the job site remains safe and secure.

What equipment do you need for your job?

Earthmoving equipment comes in all sizes and shapes, each with its own pros and cons. From the versatile backhoe loader to the powerful wheel loader, these machines can make any job site more efficient, allowing for a range of construction tasks to be completed quickly, accurately and cost-effectively.

It is important when selecting the right equipment for a job site to take into account the various benefits and limitations of each machine to get the best possible outcome from the project. Likewise, it can not be overlooked that operating these pieces of equipment requires extensive training and knowledge of safety protocols to ensure the job site is safe and secure at all times.

With proper training and attention to detail, businesses can reap the rewards of earthmoving equipment for small dirt moving jobs and larger scale excavation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions? That’s perfectly fine! We’ve got the answers you’re looking for.

What is the best piece of equipment to move dirt?

For moving large quantities of dirt, bulldozers are the best piece of equipment. With a large blade in the front, they can make small adjustments to their height and angle depending on the task at hand. They are most powerful in the construction industry, making them ideal for large-scale jobs.

What is the small machine to move soil?

The small machine to move soil is a mini excavator. Mini excavators are ideal go-anywhere tools when you need a powerful digging machine on tracks and can handle rocks, mud or loose dirt with ease.

They are perfect for moving soil in any area of a job site.

What equipment is used to move dirt?

Bulldozers are excellent machines for moving large amounts of dirt. They have an angled blade on the front and tracks for stability, allowing them to push and move dirt quickly and accurately.

Additionally, bulldozers can also be used for larger construction projects such as digging foundations and moving large rocks.

About the Author

Matt Avatar


Excavation Expert

Matt is a highly experienced heavy equipment operator with over two decades of experience in the construction industry. His expertise covers a wide range of machinery and project types, and he is known for his focus on safety, efficiency, and problem-solving. Matt's commitment to delivering high-quality work within deadlines and budgets has made him highly respected at Centex Excavation and the excavation industry.

Related Posts