Unlike classical systems, the very act of observing quantum systems perturbs their behaviour. This introduces "backaction noise", which imposes limits on the knowledge that can be obtained through measurement. Certain measurement techniques, known generally as quantum non-demolition (QND) measurements, exist to circumvent this noise. An alternative method to evade backaction noise is to amplify the observable of interest above the noise. However, this generally leaves the system in a different state, and is therefore not considered a QND measurement. In this thesis, I examine the benefits of amplification for various kinds of measurement of mechanical harmonic oscillators which, at the micrometre and nanometre scale, comprise an emerging quantum technology. For this prototypical case, modulation of the spring constant, also known as parametric amplification, is a well-studied noiseless amplification technique. Using the theory of trajectories developed in the field of quantum optics, I show that a weak measurement combined with a detuned parametric drive achieves the same ends as strong QND measurement. Namely, it allows backaction-free observation of one quadrature of mechanical motion, and through this, quantum squeezing below the quantum zero-point motion. This equivalence is experimentally confirmed in the classical limit using an optically detected, electrically modulated cantilever. In addition, I analyse similar amplification enhanced techniques for quantum entanglement and quantum tomography. These results are applicable to research in quantum optomechanics and electromechanics, and can be translated to other kinds of quantum harmonic oscillators, such as microwave cavities.