A backhoe is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment. That's why so many people start small businesses hiring themselves and their backhoes out to do small jobs. They're seen on construction sites and in backyards. They're even busy on local streets during blizzards piling up plowed snow in safe places. It's the large number of backhoe attachments that make this piece of heavy equipment perfect for so many jobs.
It's called a backhoe because the various buckets dig into the earth or a pile and move backwards toward the backhoe. The buckets are made of a variety of materials depending upon the material they are intended to dig into or pick up. The are also shaped differently and the arms will move them at different angles. The clearest example of this is the cemetery bucket. It's best known feature is the ability to cut at 90 degree angles. It comes in a variety of widths.
A backhoe is sometimes called a skid steer. That's because it appears to be skidding along on its tracks or wheels. While this seems to be a strange movement, it's this wheel configuration that allows a skid steer vehicle or backhoe to turn in place. It can easily use the general purpose bucket to pick up sand or gravel and then spin around and put it's load in a more appropriate spot. The general purpose bucket is perfect at taking a load of gravel and putting it where it belongs in a new septic system filtration field. Of course it was the back hoe with a ditch and leveling bucket that created the large pit for the filtration field.
The same backhoe with a "V" ditching backhoe attachment will be able to cut the trench for the pipes that have to connect the home to the septic tank. The backhoe can dig trenches in the smallest of spaces with a crib bucket. There is no hard rule about when to use which attachment. The backhoe operator should go out and assess the job and then determine which attachment is appropriate.
Farmers and home handymen who own john deere tractors and lawn mowers may crave turning them into an excavator. There are many backhoe buckets that can be attached to a John Deere with a winch. The owner can then use it to dig holes for trees and then move loam to make sure they're surrounded by nutritious soil. It's a thrifty and practical person who gets their expensive pieces of equipment to do many types of jobs.