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What is a Backhoe and How to Use Backhoe Attachments?

What is a Backhoe?

Table of Contents:

1. Backhoe loader vs backhoe attachment
2. How is a backhoe attachment built?
3. Backhoe applications
4. Advantages of using backhoe attachments and loaders
5. Choosing a backhoe loader - factors to consider
6. Types of backhoe attachments
7. Backhoe safety instructions
8. Have a skid steer or mini skid steer? Get a backhoe attachment!

Backhoes are one of the most versatile pieces of machinery on the market. Thanks to them the operator can drill, dig, rip, break, plow and perform many more tasks. It is no wonder that on many construction sites we often only see a backhoe (or skid steer with backhoe attachment) instead of a whole fleet of various machines.  

But how is it possible that a backhoe is useful in so many applications? How to use it and, most importantly, how to choose the right backhoe attachment? Read on to uncover the mysteries of a backhoe and find out how to get many things done using just one piece of equipment

Backhoe loader vs backhoe attachment

The use of the term 'backhoe' may at times be confusing. It is because it can refer both to the type of machine, but it can also mean just a part attached at the back of it. Therefore, before we move any further, let us go through the important definitions below. 

A Backhoe loader is a tractor-like machine that has a backhoe at the rear, a front loader, and a chassis that includes the engine, operator's cab, and other vital components. 

A backhoe attachment is a piece of equipment that can be attached to excavators, skid steers, tractors, and other machines. 

How is a backhoe attachment built?

A backhoe attachment is also referred to as a back actor or a rear actor. This type of excavating equipment consists of a digging part on the end of an articulated arm built of two parts: 

  1. Boom - the section that is located the closest to the vehicle; attached to the machine via the king-post (a pivot); this long part of the backhoe arm allows it to pivot to the sides at a range between 180 and 200 degrees as well as lift and lower. 
  2. Dipper-stick (or the dipper), the part that carries the bucket. 

Backhoe applications

When working on a job site, there are various options you might consider when it comes to the machinery. You can use skid steers, excavators, and tractors. A backhoe is one attachment that can greatly enhance the work of any type of heavy equipment you use. It is very versatile and can greatly improve your machine's manoeuvrability. You can use it in rough terrain to complete tasks, such as loading, digging, backfilling, trenching, and many more. Backhoe attachments are perfect for construction, landscaping, agricultural, paving projects, etc. Let's see below the examples of the application of backhoe attachments. 


  1. Breaking up pavement and other types of surfaces 
  2. Small demolition projects 
  3. Transporting material 
  4. Cleanup

Agriculture and landscaping

  1. Digging trenches or ponds 
  2. Uprooting and digging up trees 
  3. Carrying heavy loads, such as gravel, rocks, dirt, etc. 
  4. Leveling ground for paving roads and parking lots 

Advantages of using backhoe attachments and loaders

There are many advantages to using backhoe loaders and backhoe attachments. Below, we only list a few of the most important reasons to use them with your project. 

Ability to operate on various types of terrain  

Backhoe attachments and backhoes can do a great job on rough terrain, including rocky areas. If you decide to purchase the whole machine, you can be sure it will work great on flat surfaces as well as on inclines


Backhoes have a loader bucket and digging arm, which can be used for many applications. The same goes for the backhoe attachments. You can dig, demolish, move materials, use them for breaking asphalt or landscaping, and farming

Many sizes of machines 

If you choose to purchase the backhoe loader you can adjust the size of your machine to the type of jobs you will perform. Compact backhoes will do perfect work in the case of small projects, whereas larger-sized machines will work great with more demanding jobs needing more digging depth or horsepower

Great stability 

This one applies to backhoe loaders, which are characterized by unmatched stability. It is thanks to stabilizers that do not allow the machine to tip over. 

Choosing a backhoe loader - factors to consider

If you decide that a backhoe loader is what you wish to purchase, there are several aspects worth considering while choosing the right equipment for your needs. Backhoes can have various sizes and can have different horsepower, bucket capacities, and digging depths. Consequently, their prices also differ. Let us take a closer look at the factors that influence purchasing a backhoe


More demanding types of terrain and larger projects will require your machine to be extremely powerful (from 60 hp to even more than 110 hp). For smaller tasks, you can choose a mini backhoe with a horsepower of 20

Digging depth 

The type of machine you should get also depends on the digging depth you must achieve. Compact backhoes are perfect for digging small depths between 6 and 8 feet down (e.g. uprooting trees). However, if you need to dig deeper, larger machines will allow you to achieve even 14 feet in depth

Bucket size 

Your backhoe can serve you well as a carrying medium thanks to its bucket. The lifting capacity of a backhoe bucket ranges between 5,500 and 8,200 pounds. You can purchase machines with bucket sizes between 12 and 36 inches

Types of backhoe attachments 

There are many attachments you can purchase for your loader, which will give you a variety of applications for which you can efficiently use your machine. Let's have a look at a few of the most popular ones. 

  1. Buckets - consist of sharp teeth on the edges that can penetrate various surfaces and scoop up dirt. They are useful for trenching, grading, lifting and transporting soil, clearing debris
  2. Augers - come in various sizes and have the shape of a corkscrew. They are used to drill post holes, make holes for planting trees and shrubs, make holes for footings
  3. Hammers - perfect for demolition and breaking up soil, rock, and other hard surfaces as well as in preparing earth for further work
  4. Compactors - they are used for Earth compaction in excavators. 
  5. Snow handlers - perfect attachments for snow removal in wintertime. The most popular attachments of this type include snow blades, V-blades, blowers, pushers, and angle brooms. 
  6. Rippers - work great with breaking up solid materials, such as asphalt, ice, frozen ground, or rock, thanks to their large, sharp teeth. 
  7. Couplers - this attachment helps in switching between attachments quickly, without having to leave the cab of your backhoe. 
  8. Brooms and street sweepers - made of steel or poly bristles that help in clearing debris or snow

Backhoe safety instructions

If you are planning to operate any (especially heavy) machinery, it is of utmost importance to follow health and safety rules. We will always be the ones to stress that safety comes first. Even though modern machines are relatively safe when it comes to damage from flying objects, other dangers also may occur. That is why we give you the most important safety rules you should follow to stay (and keep others) safe while operating a backhoe. 

Before operation 

  1. Check whether the controls in the cab function well 
  2. Buckle in before starting the engine 
  3. Do not switch off the backup alarm when you first start to navigate the machine 

During operation 

  1. Reduce speed while in congested areas or when you work in rough terrain to avoid collisions 
  2. Keep the bucket low when you move the backhoe for greater visibility 
  3. Back up into any slope you must go through as the backhoes are the heaviest at their rear 
  4. Do not turn on a slope as the machine may tip over 
  5. While using the loader the loading surface should be kept smooth and level otherwise the backhoe may tip over 
  6. Soil piles should be in the proximity of at least three feet from the excavation site to prevent a cave-in 

After operation 

  1. Before shutting the engine down, park your machine on a level surface 
  2. F and R levers should be in a neutral position 
  3. Ensure setting the parking brake 
  4. Lowering the front attachment to the ground is imperative 
  5. Use a turbo cooldown feature (if your machine has it) to cool down the engine before you shut-off 
  6. Once the machine is turned off, release the pressure by moving the hydraulic levers to make sure the attachments will stay in place 
  7. Lock your backhoe 

Have a skid steer or mini skid steer? Get a backhoe attachment!

Getting a backhoe is a great solution, however, if you own a skid steer or mini skid steer, you can still enjoy the benefits that come from owning a backhoe loader simply by opting for a backhoe attachment. Our units are made of the highest quality American steel and hook up to any universal mounted skid steer.  

Blue Diamond backhoe attachment we offer is manufactured with the largest cylinder in the industry. You can order a version with or without a bucket (the sizes range from 9, 12, 18, to 24-inch). If you need a strong but light mini skid steer attachment, take a look at our Blue Diamond models that feature a large capacity bucket with great rotation. If you have any questions our friendly and experienced support team is always happy to advise.