Can you recommend the best type of equipment for sucking up leaves in my nursery?

Q:The situation is not suitable for a blower and sometimes the leaves may be wet. The machine would have to be suitable for commercial use, perhaps some type of sweeper or vacuum with a handheld attachment to take up the leaves in the difficult areas. In our cash and carry area, the plants are on MyPex and we have some raised benches.

A: You need to consider where the leaves are lying. If there are lots of corners and obstacles - leaves collecting in nooks and crannies - I would be tempted to use a handheld vacuum. The SH86C-E would be high on my list because it has excellent suction and with its integral shredding device it can pack a lot of debris into the big shoulder bag. The downside is that the bag can be heavy when full. From experience, I can tell you not to try sucking up long, thin-bladed leaves, like those from pampas grass, because they simply wrap themselves around the impeller.

The SH86C-E has a 27.2cc engine, features ErgoStart for effortless starting and comes with both round and flat nozzles. It costs £279.17 + VAT. Additional accessories include a curved flat nozzle and a handy gutter-cleaning set.

For greater volumes of leaves and debris, especially if you have large open areas of driveways and footpaths or lawns, you need to look at a wheeled vacuum, although I find their wander hoses much more awkward to handle than a handheld vacuum. If you opt for a wheeled unit, think about the overall width of the machine that could determine the most suitable unit for your situation.

Be sure to take a look at the Billy Goat machines. These start with the 50cm-wide, 5hp LB351. But for large areas I would go for a self-propelled unit such as the 63cm-wide Billy Goat KV650SPH imported by Pinnacle Power in Berkshire.

Self-propelled will cost more - the KV650SPH is more than £1,330 + VAT and optional wander hose. Bear in mind that you can easily pay double that amount for some machines.

Another well-known brand is Little Wonder. This is also an American machine with a good reputation. Another that impresses me is the German-made Cramer. The UK distributor is based in Southampton. These vacuums start at around £1,000 + VAT.

Finally, Overton machines are worthy of a closer look, especially the 120-75. It costs £859 and is basically a suction unit - using a Husqvarna engine - on top of a wheelie bin. It is sturdy and easy to manoeuvre. There is also a backpack version with 35-litre hopper.

Email your questions to

Sally Drury has been reporting on product developments and testing kit for 29 years. The advice given in this helpline is independent.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

Can UK fresh produce come out of Brexit ahead?

UK production horticulture can become more profitable under one possible Brexit scenario, while other more drastic scenarios will lead to only minor losses in profitability, in contrast to other farming sectors, according to a new report by levy body AHDB with Agra CEAS Consulting.

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

How should agri-tech research for fresh produce function in a post-Brexit UK?

How should agri-tech research for fresh produce function in a post-Brexit UK?

One area affected by the uncertainty around Brexit will be the ongoing development of agricultural technology, seen by many as essential to retain Britain's productivity and competitiveness in fresh produce along with other farming sectors.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon