Monday, December 6, 2010

More Reasons to Hate Leaf Blowers

There are lots of excellent reasons why leaf blowers should be banned, and these reasons vastly outweigh the benefit that leaf blowers offer. Leaf blowers are incredibly loud, so loud that they make it impossible to work, think, use the phone, make love, nap, or simply enjoy autumn when they're near. Leaf blowers scatter pollen, dust, and bacteria that would otherwise be washed away in the next rain. Leaf blowers especially damage the hearing of the workers who use them day in and day out. (Hearing protection isn't sufficient to prevent leaf blower induced hearing loss.)

Here are some recent observations about leaf blowers.  As you can see from the photo on the right, one person using a leaf blower decided that it would be a good idea to surround a fire hydrant with the leaves. 

In my own neighborhood a leaf blower was practicing his craft at 9:15am on Thanksgiving morning. But that was nothing compared to what this Chevy Chase, DC resident experienced last Saturday. Writing on the Chevy Chase Listserv, she reported, "At 7:15 this morning the leaf blowers started at a house on Pinehurst Circle. If I had known it was not allowed I would have reported it. I did call the agent of the house (it is for sale) to ask her to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Another Chevy Chase resident lamented, "This morning, the crew from Johnson's Landscaping began operating their gas engine leaf blower across the street at 8:15 am, an hour and 45 minutes before making noise on Saturday is legal here in Barnaby Woods. This is not an isolated incident. It woke my wife (who is ill) and my next door neighbor's infant daughter. When my neighbor and I complained, the crew was aggressive and didn't seem to care that they were violating the law."

And I almost forgot: the hot 180 mile per hour wind that leaf blowers produce is really bad for lawns. The companies that deploy leaf blowers don't want you to know that.


  1. Agree on restricting leaf blowers. I would think that firefighters can get to the hydrant without too much trouble, though. Of more concern should be the apparent rusted condition of the old hydrant once they get there. It looks like this hydrant should be replaced.

  2. Great post Bill, this is an important issue that seems to divide a lot of communities. We set up a poll based on this at TBD: "Should leaf blowers be banned?"

    Anyone reading should feel free to vote. You can also embed the poll here, too, by clicking the "embed" button on the poll.
    - Jeff

  3. Okay, so you get your wish to ban leaf blowers. What's next on your list? How about encouraging common sense rather than try and bring in another restriction that unfairly impacts normal folks (the majority).

  4. The question (or rather problem) comes up: What about when two or more leaf blowers are operating in concert? One leaf blower is enough to keep you from thinking, but two at the same time make you teeter on insanity.

    How loud are two at the same time? You can calculate the approximate decibel level of two leaf blowers working in close proximity to each other using this formula, where A = leaf blower number one and B = leaf blower number 2:

    10 * log (10^(A/10) + 10^(B/10)) = decibel level

  5. Over Thanksgiving week in New England, my hosts hired students from a local high-school to rake their (large) lawn. What a pleasure for all involved! I guarantee you it cost less than some "lawn maintenance" company, the money will help pay for the kids' spring trip (they are paid through the school), what they did was ecologically sound (including putting most leaves in compost bins), the kids themselves were proud and eager to work, and there was no upsetting noise or fumes.
    It was almost like being in a Norman Rockwell painting, by contrast to the airplane tarmac-like atmosphere of noise and fumes I suffer almost daily in residential NW DC. How easy it is to make life seem idyllic -- just turn off the d*mn leaf blowers! And the snow blowers, too!

  6. I always enjoyed raking. I am sad that I live in an apartment have no yard to rake!

  7. Woke up to feed our baby at 2:45AM the other morning. Wrapping things up at around 3AM, I heard leaf blowers whining away at that early (late?) hour. Totally nuts!

  8. The best thing to do with leaves is to "mow" them to chop into little pieces. Then spread them around below trees -- the whole canopy diameter -- and under shrubs. They'll degrade over winter, becoming wonderful soil and natural fertilizer.

  9. I lived in a community near Chicago that allowed the use of leaf blowers in May, and again in November. But that was it. It was easy to enforce, and still allowed the use of leaf blowers for what they were allegedly designed for -- blowing leaves.

    If CHICAGO can do it (that area has a LOT of trees!!), certainly DC can!

    Never in my life have I seen such craziness as the use of leaf blowers in DC. They are used on postage-stamp-sized lawns to blow the property free of dirt, and the dozen or so leaves that wandered in overnight.