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Handheld vac shredder experiences?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by pointpeninsula, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. pointpeninsula

    pointpeninsula LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8


    I'm a homeowner, not a pro, on a large city lot with plenty of trees. I've got mostly maples, some box elders and locust. We have plenty of flower beds and shrubberies. I clean up several yard of leaves every fall.

    I've been using a DR walk-behind leaf vac with the hose attachment. As other posters have pointed out, the vac gets heavy, and will leave ruts in the turf, so I've abandoned the use of the machine for lawn clearing, and now use an Echo backpack blower, which works great.

    Cleaning the flower beds and shrubs with the hose on the DR vac is time-consuming because I need to keep moving the machine around, and it doesn't shred the leaves down much. DR claims a 4:1 reduction.

    Now to the point of my post. I'm considering either the Stihl SH-86 or the Echo ES-255 as a vacuum/shredder choice. Does anyone have experience with either of these machines? Stihl claims a slightly better shred ratio (14:1 vs Echo's 12:1), but I suspect the difference is little or none, and the numbers are based more on marketing claims and subtle differences in testing. The list price on the Stihl is less. I've had great luck with Echo motors in the past, so that's a nod in their direction. Stihl has been known for chainsaws for decades - are their other tools as well made, or are they trading on their name?

    Thanks in advance for any knowledgeable opinions or experience.


    p.s. the DR really excels in hard-surface cleaning. Anyone want a used machine with low hours in great condition? Any property managers with large parking lots out there? Seriously, I'm in Rochester, NY if anyone is interested.
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    I've never had any good luck with the handheld vacs. They just take too long to utilize.

    Only other option I could think of is getting a bagger for your mower. Take your echo blower, blow out the beds, then chop them into the lawn and suck up the remaining.
  3. Kennedy Landscaping

    Kennedy Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,599

    I have an old Craftsman, still runs like a champ and I've had it forever but this year put the shredder part to use. It has a metal impeller and I've got it rigged to my trailer as essentially a full time leaf vac. It works awesome, with modifications of course though haha. All I did was put a longer discharge on it.
  4. mkortas

    mkortas LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    Both brands are good. I would just make sure you have a good return policy.
  5. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    We have both, the Echo has a bigger bag and the guys like the handle in the center of the engine making it possible to operate with one hand for a short time if needed. The Stihl has a cruise control type of feature which is nice so you can set the throttle. The bigger bag is good if your in open areas, if you are operating in tight areas it gets hung up on stuff. Both are very dependable.
  6. pointpeninsula

    pointpeninsula LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Thanks for the replies, guys.

    My local Echo dealer is a good guy, and he's a short drive from home, so I was leaning that way anyway. I'll probably wait until next season, unless there is a big discount over the winter.

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