Equipment Type

Versatile Ditch Witch XT850 Helps Landscape North Carolina's Research Triangle

Bland Landscaping, Inc. is one of the busiest and most respected landscaping specialists in North Carolina. Located in the pleasant small town of Apex just outside Raleigh, Bland Landscaping's service area includes North Carolina's prestigious Research Triangle anchored by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and the major research centers of North Carolina State University, Duke University and the...

April 09, 2007

Bland Landscaping, Inc. is one of the busiest and most respected landscaping specialists in North Carolina.

Located in the pleasant small town of Apex just outside Raleigh, Bland Landscaping's service area includes North Carolina's prestigious Research Triangle anchored by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and the major research centers of North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

Established by Tom and Nancy Bland in 1976, the family-owned company has grown to be one of the area's largest residential and commercial landscape contracting companies, providing a full range of landscape management and installation services for private homeowners and commercial clients. Kurt Bland is general manager, and brother Matt Bland is financial controller.

The installation division uses the highest quality plants suited to the climate and soils of the region, and personnel are trained in the correct methods of installing plant materials and constructing stone walls, water features, patios, and formal gardens.

Bland crews are well equipped with the best tools and machines essential for landscape construction and maintenance, including conventional skid-steer loaders, mini-skid-steer loaders, backhoes, wheel tractors and implements, mowers, snow plows, blowers and edgers, and other specialized tools.

Bland recently added a new machine that combines the benefits of a skid-steer loader and mini excavator. The Ditch Witch XT850 has a digging boom and bucket on one end and tool carrier component on the other. The tool carrier can be equipped with many types of interchangeable attachments, making the machine a multipurpose product that can excavate and perform multiple special jobs.

The machine's dual-pivot design also sets the XT850 apart from other construction equipment and permits offset excavating adjacent to streets, fences, buildings, and other surface improvements. One excavator boom pivot point is at the front of the machine where the boom connects to the tractor. A second pivot point is beneath the floor of the operator's station, under the seat. It rotates the entire boom assembly, including the boom-swing pivot. To offset dig, the assembly is rotated in one direction from the center pivot, and the boom is swung at the front pivot point in the opposite direction. The system provides maximum excavator sweep of 260 degrees. With a loader bucket, the machine is a compact loader-backhoe on tracks.

At only 52 inches wide, the rubber track-mounted XT850's compact size allows the machine to work in small areas, making it ideally suited for landscape work.

Kurt Bland, general manager, says the machine is used for a wide range of enhancements and improvements to landscaping on properties the company maintains.

"When we want to beautify a portion of an area, the machine's small size and light weight allows us to traverse sensitive soil areas, over walks and parking lots, and across terrain with varying grades with as little disruption as possible," Bland explains.

One of the important features of the XT850, he continues, is its ability to accommodate attachments.

"The quick-couple mounting plate permits us to use attachments we already owned," he said. "We regularly use a tiller, a seedbed preparation attachment, and a 'pig stick,' a boom for moving balled and burlap-wrapped trees. We also have a trenching attachment and sometimes use the machine for site preparation."

In addition to the excavator-tool carrier, Bland also operates two Ditch Witch trenchers: a 10-horsepower 1030 walk-along model and a 37-horsepower model 3700 riding trencher and hydraulic drilling attachment.

"The compact model usually is transported on a small trailer pulled by our irrigation service van, and our technicians use it for system add-ons or renovation work that requires a trencher," Bland says. "We dig trench for both residential and commercial new system installations with the larger machine."

Over the years, Bland Landscaping has won more than 80 state and national awards for landscape excellence and environmental improvement.

Currently the company employs more than 130 landscape professionals, including landscape designers, floriculturists, turf grass and horticulture managers, and chemical technicians. On staff are one landscape architect, one certified landscape contractor, five of the 12 irrigation auditors in the state, and four landscape professionals and 10 landscape technicians certified by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). Bland Landscaping is licensed by the state of North Carolina both as a landscape contractor and general contractor.

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