I Hate Leaf Blowers and Why You Should Hate them Too
Leaf blowers—just what is wrong with them? If you don’t understand what all the fuss is about (maybe you are gone at work all day) please read on. I’m not talking about homeowners electric leaf blowers. There are times where a blower can be really useful. For example, if you are physically unable to sweep or rake up by hand, or you need to get leaves out of the middle of your shrubs a leaf blower can be useful. Other than that, I don’t see much use for electric or gas powered leaf blowers at all in our already polluted environment.
Motors on industrial, gas powered leaf blowers in use today by lawn maintenance companies emit huge amounts of exhaust relative to the size of the motor. They blow contaminants from the ground into the air where they can linger for days! The resulting fine particulate air pollution is very unhealthy for anything with lungs.
Besides the unnecessary air pollution leaf blowers also produce copious amounts of noise pollution. Is this collateral damage really necessary in the name of debris free walkways and driveways? Maybe you are at work all day and come home to a blown out landscape and you love it. But consider the people who are home during the day who must endure this onslaught of air and noise pollution.
The fact is that manufacturers could make leaf blowers less polluting but that of course, would cost more, and I guess might make the machines cost more. Apparently cheap leaf blowers are more important than our air quality. In my opinion as a landscape professional no tool that landscape companies use is as bad as leaf blowers. If landscape companies decided to curtail the use of leaf blowers, the rest of the machines might not seem so annoying and harmful. And people might just leave them alone. As it is now, many towns are contemplating outlawing leaf blowers in their communities.
From my perspective as a landscape gardener, I cringe when I hear the “locusts” coming. That is what I call leaf blowers. If the crew shows up where I am working in the garden, or next door, all heck breaks loose. Suddenly I can’t talk with my client because of the noise. I have to put on earplugs and a dust mask to keep myself from just packing up and leaving the work site.
Recently I was trying to talk with a new client in her garden. In the middle of our meeting her landscape company showed up with a crew of 3 leaf blowers. It sounded like a squadron of helicopters was hovering over the neighborhood. It felt like we were under attack, I’m not kidding. When I scowled at them and told them to come back later they refused and just kept going. The client was too shy to speak to them so I had to. This is unacceptable. Luckily my client fired that company.
This same story gets repeated over and over again at different properties during the growing season around suburban towns all across America. And in the fall, with all the deciduous trees dropping leaves, it becomes nightmarish. So much for the peace and quiet of suburban life!
Now I understand that it is very hard for many landscapers to switch over to responsible landscape practices. There is not a huge profit margin unless you are a huge corporation. Entrenched landscapers are set up for chemical landscaping and it would take an investment from them to change their ways, buy new equipment and learn new methods. But many newer companies are starting out with sustainable technology and I hope they can lead the way for the rest.
We need to adapt to a different concept of what our landscapes should look like, especially in suburban areas where the pressure is on homeowners and communities to maintain spotless hardscapes. Brooms and rakes should be sufficient in most cases for cleaning up the hardscape areas around our homes and offices!
Somebody recently contacted me via email to show off some newer technology leaf blowers. Here is a link to their site, decide for yourself!