Leaves and litter should always be removed as soon as possible from areas where they are likely to pose a hazard. Risks are many and varied but one that causes most concern to those maintaining public areas is the “slip or trip factor”. In the autumn, leaves falling onto hard surfaces soon become a soggy, slippery mat.
Where leaves fall onto turf there are other problems. Not only can they interfere with good culture practices and disrupt the play of sports, but as they become wet and start to decompose they provide ideal conditions for pests and diseases.
In the ideal situation litter would be tackled at source, but in reality it is up to local councils and those caring for other areas where the public has access. As well as having the potential to cause accidents, litter can also be a fire hazard and attracts vermin.
How can litter and leaves be removed efficiently?
If the amount of material to be removed is small, localised or short term, the answer may be to use a rake or broom. Handheld or backpack blowers are a good choice where the job is larger, more frequent or where there are numerous obstacles, such as picnic benches. Blowers are particularly useful for chasing grass-clippings and hedge-cuttings back into the undergrowth or to push leaves into heaps to await collection.
Larger machines may be self-propelled or ride-on. These tend to be more surface specific, for example, those aimed at pavements where the machine will be used for several hours at a time are usually available with options such as gulley brushes and seats or cabs.
A valuable option for grounds managers is the ability to add brushes to two-wheeled tractors, and leaf collectors to lawn tractors. Many ride-on rotary mowers with collection facilities will do a good job of removing leaves from lawns, the high-speed rotation of the blades being sufficient to draw the debris into the collector.
A range of tractor-trailed vacuums and truck-loading equipment is available for larger areas. These machines are capable of collecting all kinds of debris, from leaves to wine bottles.
What features should be considered?
Sweepers and collectors need to be robust. They should also be quick and easy to empty. Look for options and add-ons such as brushes and wander hoses. The latter are especially useful for picking up rubbish from beds and borders, around obstacles and also for emptying rubbish bins. Some vacuum-sweeper collectors also double as scarifiers and flail mowers.
What’s new to the market?
The Billy Goat Force from Pinnacle Power claims to be the world’s most powerful wheeled blower. There’s a choice of 9hp and 13hp units.
Trilo has improved its SG200 vacuum sweeper. It now comes on turf tyres as standard and requires 25hp. The firm’s new BL960 blower is for three-point-linkage mounting. A nine-bladed fan results in high airflow and airspeed.
Wiedenmann has re-engineered its Whisper Twister to enable it to be fitted to the front of tractors and out-front rotary mowers. The firm has also introduced the Combi Clean 2350 sweeper. Again for use on compacts or out-front rotaries, this three-in-one unit has a counter-rotating cylindrical sweeping head and optional gulley brush.
A new hitch is available from Broadwood International to allow its SweepEx modular brush system to be used on telehandlers and other loaders.
Wessex Machinery has added to its Sweeper Collector range with the launch of the STC Series semi-mounted collectors with 1.2m and 1.8m working widths for tractors of 15hp upwards.
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