Need Some Help? Two Attachments to Lean on if You’re Dealing with a Labor Shortage

grapple bucket

Looking for workers? You’re not alone. According to the 2021 Green Industry Benchmark Report, attracting and retaining employees is the most frequently cited issue for landscapers with 70 percent of respondents reporting difficulties in finding workers. That challenge may not improve this year either. The recent 2022 U.S. Job Market Outlook report stated that “Even if every one of the nearly 7 million unemployed people took an open job, there would still not be enough people in the labor market to fill these open roles.”

So where does this leave landscaping teams? For many landscapers, the labor shortage means an increased reliance on their equipment. One of the more popular machine solutions is the stand-on skid steer, thanks to its ability to equip multiple attachments. With the versatility afforded from stand-on tool carrier attachments, contractors can offset jobsite difficulties from running smaller crews. While there are a variety of attachments that can be beneficial on a jobsite, there are some attachments that are ideally suited to help out smaller crews. Here are two attachments that you can lean on if you’re dealing with challenges from the labor shortage.

Grapple Bucket

The bucket attachment is the bread and butter of most stand-on skid steer operators, and a grapple bucket adds even more to the bucket’s abilities. A grapple bucket is essentially a standard bucket with hydraulic clamps that can be used to hold unstable material such as tree branches or stumps, large boulders or even unstable bricks and other landscape material.

The grapple bucket is an ideal attachment for smaller crews, especially when it is attached to a large stand-on skid steer. With a grapple attachment, operators are able to carry larger loads across a jobsite quickly and safely. For example, if a contractor needed to move a heavy tree branch across a jobsite, a grapple attachment equipped to a large stand-on skid steer would allow the operator to move the branch in one trip. Without a bucket and a large skid steer, the crew would need to take time to cut the branch up into smaller pieces that could be carried by hand or pieces that would fit into a standard bucket. Maximizing efficiency is the key to succeeding with smaller crews, and grapple buckets are an ideal attachment to promote jobsite efficiency.


While dedicated trenchers are incredibly popular and certainly have a place in landscaping, trencher attachments offer an efficient alternative. Trencher attachments for stand-on skid steers are typically available in 4-, 6- and 8-in. widths and are ideal for installing everything from irrigation and drainage systems to electric, utility or fiber. However, the biggest benefit of a trencher attachment is that it eliminates the need for a second machine on a jobsite, which benefits contractors dealing with a labor shortage in two ways. First, using a trencher attachment eliminates any time needed for maintenance or transportation for a second machine and gives the crew valuable minutes back in their day. Second, by running one machine on-site, operators only need to understand how to operate one machine. This means that training time can be cut down with any new hires and allows new workers to contribute much quicker.

trencher attachment

Trencher attachments for stand-on skid steers are typically available in 4-, 6- and 8-in. widths.

Explore Your Options

While the grapple bucket and trencher attachment are two of the best attachments to maximize efficiency when working with small crews, there are a variety of attachments that can be beneficial to your operation. Forks, rakes, backhoes, augers, microtrenchers and other attachments can be just as beneficial for some contractors. If you understand your jobsite and your worker’s needs, you’ll be able to pick attachments that will help you hit your deadlines and stay profitable even when dealing with a worker shortage.

Brant Kukuk is the compact equipment product manager at Ditch Witch.