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@haymarket.com

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


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