The Ultimate Guide to Renting Backhoes

When renting heavy machinery, you’re faced with many options. You have to consider whether you need compact or full-size equipment and what jobs you need to do, whether that’s lifting, hauling or digging. What if you could find a happy medium and get the best of both worlds? With backhoe loaders, you get a mid-sized machine that performs a range of tasks reliably. Backhoe loaders are versatile machines used in many industries, including general construction, landscaping, roadwork, demolition and excavation.

If you're considering renting a backhoe for your next project, you want to choose the right equipment from the right rental store. To get you started with construction equipment rentals, we've put together this backhoe rental guide. Learn about what backhoes are used for, the advantages of backhoe rentals and how to partner with The Cat® Rental Store for high-quality backhoe rentals near you.

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About Backhoes

A backhoe loader is a type of heavy machinery used in a variety of industries. Although it’s classified as earthmoving equipment, a backhoe loader can do more than haul dirt. In fact, backhoe loaders are considered one of the most versatile pieces of heavy equipment because of their three-in-one functionality.

The three types of heavy machinery built into a backhoe loader include:

  • Tractor: The backhoe loader is built on a tractor framework, much like farming tractors you’d find on rural properties. The backhoe tractor usually has an enclosed cab where the operator controls the machine from a center pivot point. The center pivot allows the operator to swivel to the front of the machine, which is the loader end, or to the rear of the machine, which is the backhoe end. The tractor itself has a turbocharged diesel engine and rides on heavy-duty tires that allow it to effortlessly traverse rugged terrain.
  • Loader: The front end of the backhoe loader offers the loading functionality. With a front bucket, the backhoe loader can load, lift and haul materials. Depending on the make and model, the front bucket can be swapped out for a variety of work tools.
  • Backhoe: At the rear of the machine is the backhoe arm. A backhoe is like an excavator arm, consisting of three components — the boom, stick, and bucket or tool. The backhoe arm is what makes backhoe loaders so popular. It gives the operator the ability to perform heavy-duty digging jobs without the need for full excavators, which have maneuverability limitations.

A backhoe loader is also typically equipped with stabilizer legs — appendages that extend from behind the rear wheels. Stabilizer legs keep the machine stable while it performs its job. When the machine is in action, the strong motion forces can cause the machine to be unbalanced, potentially leading to a tip-over. To prevent an accident and minimize weight on the suspension, the operator implements the stabilizer legs before getting to work. The stabilizer legs take on the weight of the equipment while the operator uses the backhoe arm.

What Are Backhoes Used For?

Backhoes can be useful in just about every heavy machinery application. However, given their mid-level size, they are particularly useful for medium-sized projects. When deciding whether to rent a backhoe loader for your project, it’s important to consider the size of the site. With typical urban residential construction or landscaping, backhoes may be too big for the job site, so the combination of a compact loader and mini excavator may be most appropriate.

At the other end of the spectrum, large industrial projects may get higher efficiency and performance out of the combination of off-highway trucks, large excavators and full-sized wheel loaders. This still leaves ample room for backhoe loaders to shine in most types of construction, farming and other project types.

Below we cover some of the top ways to put a backhoe loader to use:

1. Landscaping

While their size makes them a bit overkill for the average residential project, backhoe loaders are useful in larger, commercial landscaping projects. Having a backhoe loader on-site minimizes the need to rent multiple machines to perform the required tasks. Normally, a landscape contractor would need a loader of some sort, such as a skid steer loader, a compact track loader or a wheel loader for lifting and hauling dirt, gravel and other landscaping materials. The contractor might also need an excavator, typically to dig drainage ditches and irrigation trenches or to excavate a foundation for hardscape installations.

With a backhoe loader, the contractor needs only one piece of machinery for the job. In addition to material hauling and digging, a backhoe loader’s front bucket can be used to grade and smooth the ground before lawn seeding or turf laying. Backhoes can be fitted with a variety of other landscaping work tools using a universal coupling system. You can also use your backhoe arm for digging holes for tree and shrub plantings.

2. Farming and Agriculture

Backhoes are most commonly associated with farming and agriculture due to their tractor framework. Their front loader and backend digger make them very useful for a variety of agriculture and farming tasks. The front bucket is useful for hauling soil, feed, hay bales and palletized goods, as well as organizing barns and storehouses. The bucket also helps grade and level soil for planting, and various attachments can be used for tilling, raking and soil conditioning.

The backhoe arm helps accomplish numerous farming and agriculture tasks. Whether you need to dig drainage ditches, trench up earth to lay irrigation lines or create holes for fence posts, the backhoe arm can perform basic excavating tasks. Thanks to their numerous compatible attachments, backhoes can also be used for land management, including cutting back overgrowth around perimeters, easements and right of ways.

3. Construction

In recent years, there have been more backhoe loaders present on construction sites. Previously, contractors relied on combinations of excavators, wheel loaders and skid steers to complete construction jobs. However, having a backhoe on-site is efficient and cost-effective. In an increasingly dense urban environment, contractors need the most powerful equipment they can get without it being too big for the job. Backhoe loaders are the perfect compromise — they’re powerful enough to complete jobs efficiently, but they aren’t too big for most urban construction projects.

The front loader is useful for initial lot clearing when equipped with attachments like buckets, brushcutters, stump grinders, flail mowers and more. You can also use the loader end for grading and smoothing out a freshly cleared lot in preparation for construction. The front loader offers a convenient way to transport building materials around the site.

Use the backhoe arm for tough digging jobs, like footings and foundations. You can even use a backhoe for light demolition jobs and cleaning up scrap materials. With a variety of attachments, the backhoe loader can perform other specialized tasks you might not realize. For example, a truss boom attachment can help hoist and move trusses and other building materials around the construction site safely.

4. Utilities and Civic Works

You’ll often see backhoes on utility and civic work job sites. As with general construction, backhoes are a cost-effective piece of heavy construction equipment to invest in or rent, thanks to their versatility. For utilities and civic works, backhoes are ideal for trenching. Use the bucket to dig up dirt along a smooth straight line. Whether you’re laying gas pipes, water lines or electrical cables, a backhoe is up to the task.

The convenient part of using a backhoe for trench digging is that after you’ve excavated mounds of dirt, you have the perfect hauling machine already at hand. Use the front-end bucket to lift and haul away your accumulated dirt without the need for an additional machine.

5. Road Construction

Backhoe loaders make a great addition to a road construction project. When building a new road, backhoe loaders are useful for boulder, rock, tree and vegetation extraction and removal, as crews clear the way for the new road. You can use a backhoe loader for grading out the road in preparation for paving, as well as for digging and backfilling roadside ditches and embankments. Thanks to a variety of attachments, backhoe loaders can also be used to break up and demolish old pavement in preparation for road reclamation.

The backhoe is ideal because it can perform many of the road construction tasks directly, but it’s also useful for pushing and hauling away debris, as well as hauling and laying down gravel.

6. Mining

Backhoe loaders can play a vital supporting role in large industrial projects like the mining, oil and gas sectors. A fleet of backhoe loaders can perform tough work, like boulder and rock extraction and removal. They’re also used to dig trenches and backfill them, while their front bucket is the perfect tool for hauling away dirt and gravel. The backhoe loader is perfectly suited for the job because it digs up materials on one end and hauls them away with the other end.

When outfitted with the right attachments, backhoe loaders can drill into the ground, grade and level ground, backfill holes and grab and lift heavy objects. Backhoe loaders stay busy on mining sites, hauling away extracted rock, clay, metals or other mined materials to other site locations or loading them into dump trucks.

Benefits of Backhoes

When renting heavy construction equipment, it’s important to understand the applications of each type of machinery and the advantages each one has over another. When renting heavy equipment, you may be debating between a backhoe loader vs. a wheel loader, excavator, bulldozer or even a compact track or multi-terrain loader. While each machine has its place, backhoe loaders are the ideal choice in certain scenarios.

Below we describe some of the key advantages backhoe loaders have over other types of construction equipment:

1. Versatility

The most important benefit of backhoe loaders is their versatility. The two broad functions backhoe loaders serve include lifting and hauling with the front end and digging and filling with the back end. Backhoe loaders are essentially two machines in one — a wheel loader and an excavator.

Wheel loaders and excavators are large pieces of heavy machinery, often used exclusively in scenarios where you need to dig, lift, haul and deposit lots of loose material. Both machines are needed on large construction sites where a full-sized excavator does a lot of digging, and a wheel loader scoops the excavated material and deposits it into a dump truck for removal from the site.

On less active job sites, a backhoe loader can be a much more convenient and cost-effective solution. Rather than renting both an excavator and a wheel loader, you can accomplish both tasks with one machine.

2. Efficiency

Another advantage that backhoe loaders have over other heavy-duty machines is their efficiency. Thanks to their smaller size, faster speeds and tighter maneuverability, backhoe loaders can accomplish the same amount of productive work in less time and using fewer operational resources.

Wheel loaders and excavators are bigger, heavier machines that take up a lot of space to operate. Having two separate machines is more expensive to rent upfront and incurs higher associated operating costs. Operating both a wheel loader and an excavator consumes more fuel and requires two operators’ wages.

When you rent a backhoe, you cut back on rental costs, fuel consumption and operator wages. And because backhoes have a center pivot point, they’re much easier and safer to maneuver in tight spaces, taking up less room than two machines on-site. Backhoes are also considered approved to drive on city roads, meaning they’re the efficient choice if you’re operating across multiple project sites.

3. Functionality on Rugged Terrain

Backhoes are designed to tackle the rugged, uneven terrain of heavy-duty construction and industrial sites. With heavy-duty tires, backhoes glide effortlessly over steep and tough ground. Their high center of gravity also makes for a smoother ride compared to some compact loading equipment alternatives. Even when carrying a full load, backhoe loaders traverse job sites with ease, power and speed.

Due to their stabilizer legs, backhoes are also an excellent option when operating the backhoe arm on slopes. Stabilizer legs help bear the weight of the machine, preventing too much force on the equipment and countering gravity’s pull on the slope. Even when performing high-impact activities, like drilling and trenching, the backhoe remains stable and reliable.

4. Compatibility With Attachments

One aspect that makes all of today’s heavy construction equipment so useful is the wide range of work tool attachments designed for every conceivable application.

Backhoe loaders can be outfitted with attachments to replace the front bucket and the backhoe arm bucket. Thanks to the backhoe rear coupler, you gain access to a multitude of work tools for your backhoe rental. Below are some of the attachments your backhoe rental can benefit from:


When you rent a backhoe loader, it’s important to speak to a knowledgeable sales representative about your project and specific needs. An equipment expert can recommend the right size and model of backhoe loader for your project in addition to the suite of work tools you’ll need to best accomplish the job.

Why Rent a Backhoe Loader?

In addition to choosing between models of backhoe loaders and attachment types, you also have another important decision to make — whether to rent or buy your equipment. If you need a backhoe loader for a one-off project, you’re a small business owner or you’re new to your field, heavy equipment rentals are the perfect solution.

When you rent a backhoe loader, you choose the model, size and attachments you need, as well as the length of the contract term. In addition to getting the exact equipment you want, you can also take advantage of the financial benefits of rentals. Below are some of the benefits you can expect when you rent a backhoe loader:

1. Minimize Upfront and Ongoing Costs

The most significant reason to rent a backhoe is the savings on upfront costs and associated expenses. When you rent a backhoe loader, you eliminate the need to layout a cash investment upfront. Buying a new or used piece of equipment is a great long-term investment, but it can be a difficult one for small businesses to make. Instead, renting allows you to pay for the equipment for the time you use it, significantly cutting costs.

The purchase cost of the equipment isn’t the only financial investment you avoid when you rent equipment. You also avoid ongoing costs, like parts replacement and repair costs, as well as the responsibility of performing ongoing preventive maintenance. You also avoid the need to pay for insurance on the equipment, storage costs and transportation expenses.

2. Meet Project Needs On-Demand

In construction, landscaping and all other industries, you need to strike while the iron is hot. That means if you’ve got a new contract opportunity, you want to be able to take it on without hesitation.

One of the reasons contractors turn jobs down is because they don’t have the right tools for the specific project. Procuring the right equipment can be expensive and time-consuming, putting you at risk of losing the bid. When you partner with a reliable rental dealer, you’ll never have to leave money on the table.

Take on more projects as they arise by relying on The Cat Rental Store for a full inventory of backhoe loaders, work tools and more to get the job done. No matter the project, your local dealer has the right size and model of backhoe loader to give your project the productivity and efficiency you need to stay on time and on budget.

3. Enjoy Seasonal Savings

Whether it’s landscaping, construction, farming or any other industry, we’re all subject to seasonal fluctuations in work levels and equipment needs. Choosing to rent your backhoe loader or any other piece of heavy equipment allows you to stay flexible as your seasonal needs change. For smaller or newer companies, investing in heavy equipment is a major undertaking, and having your fleet remain non-operational for several months out of the year can be costly.

Renting backhoe loaders eliminates this risk, giving you full control over which equipment you need and when. Rental contracts are always flexible. Whether you need a backhoe loader for a week, a month or six months, renting gives you the freedom to control your time frame and budget without worrying about the cost of unproductive downtime.

4. Try Before You Buy

Renting a backhoe loader is the perfect way to try out the equipment before making an investment. If you’re considering purchasing a backhoe loader but aren't sure if it’s the right machine for you, renting one for a short-term project is the perfect way to test it out to make sure.

Renting reduces the risk of making an investment you might later regret. Though backhoe loaders are one of the best investments you can make when building your fleet of equipment, you need to be absolutely sure before you pull the trigger. Renting a backhoe is a safe way to get familiar with the equipment and decide for sure before you sign the purchase contract.

Rent Your Next Backhoe Loader From The Cat® Rental Store

Renting a backhoe loader for construction, landscaping or demolition projects is a cost-effective and time-saving option. In order to reap the benefits of heavy equipment rentals, you need a rental dealer you can trust. The Cat Rental Store is a worldwide dealer network with over 1,300 locations, each with an extensive inventory of high-quality equipment rentals.

By renting from your local dealer through The Cat Rental Store, you can secure a backhoe loader rental that’s been maintained to the reputable standards of Caterpillar, as well as equipped with the latest in operating technology. Visit The Cat Rental Store location near you today to learn how you can get access to a versatile and productive Cat backhoe loader for your next project.

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