Easiest Way to Remove Lots of Dirt

I need to remove quite a bit of dirt from my backyard and thought that breaking up the dirt with a rented tiller and then shoveling the dirt aside by hand was sufficient. The problem is it’s a lot quicker to break up the dirt with a tiller than it is to move the dirt by hand so you end up not being able to use the tiller often enough in a short period of time making rental cost expensive. Also, manually moving lots of dirt by hand is incredibly tiring and time-consuming. Though renting an excavator seems like overkill ad expensive for a residential backyard, it’s actually not considering how easy it is to use and how quickly you can get a project done.

With two people working, one breaking up dirt with a tiller and the other moving dirt using an excavator, the project of removing dirt took only a day. The following tools were rented from the Home Depot.

  • Baretto Hydraulic Tiller – ~ $159 per day
  • Yanmar Mini Excavator – ~ $350 per day


  • There are many tillers but the best is the Baretto hydraulic tiller. It’s huge but it can break up hard dirt that hasn’t even been softened with water. It’s also easy to use but due to its size, it can’t break up dirt along edges like along a fence. This tiller also comes with a mini trailer so you can just tow it.
  • The mini excavator is 2′ 4″ wide so it can fit through a standard 3′ wide fence gate. It takes diesel gas but is very efficient.


When using the tiller, you can pull the trigger to have the engine move the wheels forward and in reverse. However, the movement is very slow which is fine for when you’re actually tilling dirt. When you need to move the tiller from the trailer to your dirt, it’s must quicker and quieter to unlock the wheels and manually push the tiller with the engine off. To do that,

  1. rotate the ring that’s attached to a large pin that goes into the wheel rim until the small pin that sits perpendicular to the large pin is aligned with the opening
  2. pull the ring so that the small pin comes through the open and then rotate the ring so that the large pin is held out thereby unlocking the wheel from the engine. if you are unable to pull the ring, rotate it clockwise a few times and try again.