Laying sod, seeding, grading, tilling, trimming, planting, digging postholes and ponds, installing hardscapes — a landscaper’s work is never done. So it’s no surprise that versatile, multitasking John Deere compact machines have become hugely popular among landscapers.
Deere skid steer loaders, compact excavators and compact loaders work well with lot lines and setbacks growing tighter and tighter. And by hooking one up to the approximately 100 Worksite Pro attachments available, a landscaper can complete almost any task.
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When Stuart Donald Muche started Stuart’s Landscaping in 1986, he operated out of his garage with only a ’79 pickup, a wheel-barrow, a couple of hand tools, and a passionate determination to succeed.
Stuart’s determination paid off. Today his Fond du Lac, Wisc., company employs 60 people and has branched from landscape maintenance into landscape design, construction, and installation.
It also owns a thriving retail garden center and 200-acre nursery/tree farm.
The company’s fleet has grown significantly, too. In place of the old pickup are new, well-maintained trucks, tractors, and compact equipment that convey a professional image and keep his crews working efficiently.
The company purchased its first small lawn and garden tractor 17 years ago, a John Deere 955 hydrostatic, which is still running today at the Muche family’s hunting camp.
For years, the machine was the company workhorse, doing everything from digging out patios to lifting pallets.
“Stuart always wanted the best for his clients, which is why we chose Deere,” said Paul Muche, landscape designer. “We’ve looked into different machines, but Deere has treated us well, so we’ve always stuck with them.”
The company purchased its first John Deere skid steer loader seven years later, a 7775, which provided additional power and versatility.
“We pushed the little garden tractor well past its limit,” said Paul. “A skid steer loader can lift ten times what a tractor can, so going to a skid steer was a no-brainer. They’re much more efficient.”
Today the company owns a number of John Deere skid steers, including a 250 and a 320. The skid steers are used primarily for digging big areas such as patios and walkways, hauling aggregates, and moving pallets of brick, pavers, and block.
In addition to buckets and pallet forks, the skid steers also can be fitted with four different-size augers for setting wooden posts and planting trees, as well as rake and broom attachments.
During the spring, the 320 is fitted with a tree spade for digging 1,500 to 2,000 trees in the tree nursery. Equipped with forks, the 250 is used to move the trees around the yard and load them onto trucks.
Muche especially likes the skid steer’s safety features, which include the triple-interlock operator-presence system.
“An operator can’t just jump in the machine and take off,” he explained. “And if they unlatch the seat belt, leave the seat, or shut down the engine, the brake is applied automatically.”
Stuart’s Landscaping also owns a John Deere compact excavator, and is renting a second one.
“The compact excavator saves a lot of man-hours,” said Steve Klein, salesman and head foreman.
“You can dig a hole for planting a tree in a matter of minutes — it can take a half-hour for two guys digging by hand. I wish we had owned a com- pact excavator 15 years ago.”
The mini excavator provides more leverage than the skid steer, making it practical for digging retaining walls, small ponds, and trenches.
“We use them for a lot of tasks where we used to use a skid steer,” explained Klein. “It reduces wear and tear on the skid steers, and saves an incredible amount of money.”
To view video of this landscaper in action, visit www.JohnDeere.com/digdeeper.