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How To Operate A Mini Digger

You can make short work of groundworks in tight spaces with mini digger hire. They’re compact, and low impact whilst providing an effective way to speed up the digging process. If you’ve got a small project underway, and you’re looking to get the job done fast, then a small excavator may be the perfect solution. With this in mind, we’ve created a basic guide on how to operate a mini digger, to get you started on the right track.

When Should You Use A Mini Digger?

Before you hire a mini digger, it’s important to know what the right situation to use one is. Small excavators are ideally suited to small works in tight spaces and landscaping work. If you need deep trenches and need to move large amounts of material, then a larger machine may be appropriate. We recommend quantifying the work you have to do in order to pick the perfect digger for your project.

Mini Digger Controls

The digger controls work as an extension of your own body. They’re designed to be intuitive and feel like a fluid motion controlling the machine. Learning how to use these controls in a smooth motion takes practice. However, most mini diggers use the following control mapping to get you started:


Dipper & Boom

The arm of a digger can be separated into two sections. The main base of the arm that extends from the body of the digger is called the ‘boom’. The second section furthest away is called the dipper, they are controlled independently of one another on the left and right levers as can be seen below.

an infographic displaying the controls for a mini digger

Excavator Techniques

There are a number of different buckets and techniques required for fast and efficient mini digger use. It would require a lot of one-to-one training to become an expert in these areas. However, we’ve outlined below some basic techniques to get you on the way.


The widest of your mini digger buckets is called the grading bucket. Grading is loosely based off the word ‘gradient’ and to carry out grading as part of groundworks is to create a linear, flat and consistent level to the ground. Whether that’s on an angle depends on the job at hand. In order to do this correctly it takes some finesse. However, it’s generally considered easiest to do in a fluid motion with your dipper and bucket working cohesively. Additionally, it’s best carried out with your digger arm stretched out far, rather than close to you. This gives more accuracy.

Toothed Buckets

Using your tooth buckets is best saved for tough ground. Shillet, stony and heavy clay soil can be stubborn to dig. As a result, having the teeth on your bucket allows you to scoop and break up at the same time. We recommend not leveraging too much weight on the teeth, as they can break. Additionally, when using a mini digger in general, watch out for utilities. A tooth bucket can make short work of a water main, especially an old clay pipe.


Your foot bucket is toothless and perfect for digging trenches in soft soil. It creates a linear dig without breaking the base of your trench like a toothed bucket would. This allows for pipes to be laid flat and to create a consistent gradient for trenches that require it, such as land drains. Much like grading, it’s important to do this at length, and as a fluid motion. From here, you’ll want to be digging shallow segments while scooping. Pile your loose dirt to the side in a uniform manner with a gap between and compact so it doesn’t fall in.

Square E55 Digger

Mini Digger Movement

Movement is often one of the most important aspects of operating a mini digger. It can also be dangerous. See our safety and risk assessment below for more details on this. When moving your machine around, you have control of both tracks with the middle levers. Ensure you move in a smooth motion and don’t put too much strain on one track by rotating too quickly. This helps to prevent your tracks from popping off. Additionally, if you’re traversing a gradient, ensure you have three points of contact to prevent toppling. You can do this by placing your bucket in the direction of the slope and using it as an anchor if your digger feels like it needs to tip.

Risk Assessments & Safety

Operating heavy machinery is dangerous, and mini diggers are no exception. That’s why it’s important to assess risks and drive safely. To do this, consult the manual to ensure the machine is maintained and used correctly. Additionally, when using your mini digger, pay attention to what is above, around and below. This means always being aware of people and objects around and above you, including power lines and falling hazards. Furthermore, when digging, be careful of gas, water and electric mains. You can consult the government’s digital map of underground pipes and cables to help with this.

Choose Double M Plant Hire For Mini Diggers

If you’re looking for mini digger hire, then look no further than Double M Plant Hire. We’re committed to quality machinery and expert advice so you can be confident in our equipment and hires. For more information, get in touch with us today.

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