Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poll: Should Leaf Blowers Be Banned in DC?

Photo by Hillary
Vote in our poll:

Should leaf blowers be banned in the District of Columbia?

People who support leaf blowers argue that they save time and money.  Opponents of leaf blowers argue that they're noisy, they pollute and they push pollen, dog poop and other debris into neighbors' yards.

Some cities, including Los Angeles, ban leaf blowers with 500 feet of any residence. Other cities, such as Palo Alto, ban just gas-powered leaf blowers. Should the District of Columbia ban all leaf blowers, too?  Or ban the use of leaf blowers within 500 of any residence? Or just the use of gas-powered leaf blowers?

On Monday, All Life Is Local will publish a column calling for a complete ban on leaf blowers in the District of Columbia. In the meantime, you can register your opinion in our poll.


  1. Yes, of course. I fully support a full city wide ban on leaf blowers and a committee to look into a possible Constitutional Amendment.

    If this ban seems like a hardship, and you do not like having to pay your landscaping company four times more than you do now for raking the leaves instead of blowing them, just think of it as a small price to pay to keep dog poop dust out of your children’s nostrils. I know that you have not worried about this public health threat before, but it is time to add it to your list.

    Of course the noise problem is not only leaf blowers and in the future we may have to also ban lawn mowers, but by then a new technological solution will probably have been found like grassless lawns and treeless yards.

    Now for those of you who say “why don’t we just chip in and buy Bill a set of noise-cancelling headphones”, you are missing the point. This is not about simple solutions to everyday problems. No, if it was, then don’t you think that Bill would have already written a book about it? And besides, what if someday Bill forgot where he put the headphones? Think of how inconvenient that would be.

  2. I already have a noise canceling headset, thank you, which I use when flying an airplane.

    But noise canceling headsets are impractical for napping infants. You can't use a headset while talking on the phone. When a leaf blower is in action nearby, you can barely think, and using the telephone can be impossible.

    And what about people who are sick, or recovering from surgery? What about doctors who work the night shift and need to sleep during the day?

    I can always pop on my noise canceling headset. But lots of people can't.

  3. I fully support a full city wide ban on leaf blowers and a committee to look into a possible Constitutional Amendment.

    I hope that's not the best that the pro-leaf blower side can do. That kind of exaggerated sarcasm makes for a poor argument.

    How about: It will cost more to hire lawn service companies. That's about the only argument that there is opposing a ban on leaf blowers, and it's a pretty weak argument indeed.

    There are always pluses and minuses when it comes to banning something. In the case of leaf, the negatives --noise, pollution, blowing pollen and debris around-- far outweigh the benefits that leaf blowers bring.

    A number of communities have already banned leaf blowers. DC should to.

  4. I think this is silly. I dont drive. I think we should ban CARS and their smoke and noise, roof work, barking dogs, party sounds, trash trucks and SERVICE TRUCKS, tree work, road work, all so disturbing. How about a poll on that? This is urban living. Move away where there is no sound when a pin drops folks

  5. Please, please ban them. I've seen a worker spend 20 minutes blowing 12 leaves down a paved driveway when a rake would have done the job in maybe a minute. The worker wore headphones, I suffered. Noise-canceling headsets are no use if I'm trying to listen to something else while a leaf-blower is in use, and I'd rather not have to try to sleep with a headset on if I'm hoping too sleep past 7 a.m.

  6. The invention of the steam shovel replaced 100 men digging with shovels--or 1000 digging with spoons. I say let us replace one man with a leaf blower with 10 men with rakes and brooms. Think what it will do for unemployment.

  7. Most the of people for (pro) leaf blowers have such weak arguments that it's not even worth commenting on.

  8. From an ex-owner of a property maintenance company: It may be a solution if, instead of an outright ban on gas blowers, if neighbors organize enough to be able to tell their property maintenance companies that, for example, Thursday mornings and Wednesday afternoons are leaf blowing times on your street. You would then plan to grocery shop or other outside errands on the times that they are there on your street. You may not get full cooperation because of wet weather or company schedules but perhaps, by the second or third year, the companies could have completely worked out a good solution with the street organization.

    The company owners want to please their customers and work quickly, so if the workers are using their blowers inefficiently, they need retraining. Send them an email and describe what you are seeing.

    The added cost of hand raking will blow your mind. The companies would have to hire temporary workers, never a good solution for efficiency and reliability.

    Certainly, most people will vote for banning leaf blowers and then find that leaves pile up everywhere and then most people will find that there are quite a few more leaves blocking drains, blowing into the end of wind canyons (those lucky home owners know who they are because they end up with everyone else's debris). Leaves on sidewalks and streets are dangerous as people and cars slip and slide on them. Dry leaves break into small pieces and blow away into the air. People will say they will do their own leaves because of the added cost and then get too busy. The leaves stay on their expensively maintained lawns and the lawns die because of fungus and lack of sunlight.

    Some of us will cope nicely and others won't and we'll end up dealing with other people's leaves.

    Do these sound like weak arguments?

  9. Raking leaves was a way that I and a few of my 12 and 13 year old friends could make some extra money on a crisp Autumn weekend.

    Gone is the chattering of the once familiar green tines of a Scotts lawn rake; replaced by the disruptive growl of Toro, Weed Eater and the appropriately named Echo leaf blower.

    Unfortunately, for many teens today, the lawn rake, is now as much of the past as my memories of standing knee deep in a pile of yellow, red and orange maple leaves on a bright and brisk Saturday afternoon in New England.

  10. I find it hard to believe that leaf blowing is that much faster -- and it's certainly not better for your plants. I usually can rake my smallish yards in less than 15 minutes for the front and maybe 20 minutes for the back. But last year when I was in a cast, I had to hire a guy. He came with this horrible big leaf blower (blaster, actually) and by the time he got it unloaded from his truck and set up, he could have raked half the front yard already. I'm glad to be able to do the raking myself this year.

    That said -- I'm not in favor of a ban. Better to have some restrictions on hours and on the noisiest types of blowers. A good compromise might be for the big companies to switch to vacuum mowers that suck the leaves up into a mulching machine and produce mulch that can be reused. And they are not as noisy as gas powered leaf blowers.

  11. Yes, Chau, they are weak arguments. No one will comply with a schedule unless it's made into law.
    People aren't that considerate. Look at the poop situation with the garbage cans. Some people are basically lazy and inconsiderate. Sorry, but true.

    The best argument against leaf blowers is: we have lived without them before, and we can live without them again. It seemed that the leaf situation was under control before leaf blowers, right?
    Is my argument weak?
    P.S. I have also seen persons operating a leaf blower batting around about 10 leaves for 10 minutes when raking it or EVEN PICKING IT UP BY HAND would have done the job in 30 seconds. And raking leaves can be done efficiently and effectively in a time constrant situation. I know, I've done it. On a lot of property, too.
    Oh, LAZY people.

  12. Darlene did not address most of my arguments. On the scheduling. You tell your lawn company and two or three others what the problem is and that your neighborhood wants (once you have organized yourselves) a bid on removing your leaves on a regular basis. You take the best bid. You include the conditions you want, e.g., that the work is done on Wednesday unless it is raining or the wind is blowing too strongly, that the blowers be professionally used, etc.

    Life had changed: We lived without blowers in the days when only one homeowner worked and the Mom raked and played in the piles with the kids and supervised the high school kids who would come and help rake for a few dollars. Mom is now working in the office and the high school kids are way too busy to regularly rake.

    Misuse of blowers: If you are seeing your leaf crew misusing the blower for a handful of leaves, email the owner and diplomatically describe the situation and how you feel about it. Then take appropriate action if you don't like what follows. Please let the company owner know that you don't care if a few leaves are left behind as you know they will keep falling from the trees. Most companies do not want to be paying for excess gas, labor, and wear of their machines.

    Use of lawn vacs: I don't have experience with the lawn vacuums because our properties were in town where the grass areas are small compared to the other parts of the property and the machines are bulky, expensive, and we still needed to use blowers for a lot of the areas anyway.

    Mulch making: Early in the season we blow the leaves from the grass into the beds and remove leaves from paved surfaces and decks. The last leaf removal we remove all leaves from everywhere. All leaves removed are taken to recycling locations. Some owners keep some of their leaves in their beds until the spring. Some owners have their lawn mowed with the leaves on the grass, although this can be messy.

  13. When did we become a people who can't tolerate a few leaves on the grass and a little dust on the sidewalk?

    These so-called leaf blowers aren't being used for leaves, which fall heavily for about one month each YEAR. They are used on a daily basis to blow dirt and dust and a maybe a half-dozen leaves that will re-appear as soon as these Macho Men go away.

    Lawn mowers are generally used once per week, and only during grass growing season.

    The "leaf" blowers are used in our neighborhood on a DAILY basis to blow dirt down the street.

    It's insanity

  14. A leaf blower ban will not work. It cannot be enforced. Who's going to do the enforcing? The DC police? They will hang up the phone after you make the phone call and HOWL with laughter. If they DO show up, it will be an hour later, and the leaf blowers will be gone

    Common sense is the only thing that will solve this problem. I don't think it's the "customers" who want their property blown clean of every speck of dust. It's the landscaping companies who insist that "this is how it's done."

    It's NOT how it's done.

    It's how a bunch of landscaping companies and property managers have hoodwinked us into thinking that our property has to be blown free of dust every 24 hours.