Leaf Blower Blowback!



It’s that time of year again when we shake, rattle and roll to the sounds of spring. 

My rant du jour is all about those insidious leaf-blowing contraptions engaged in the ritual of combat gardening. And most days it does sound like a war zone out there, as men prepare to battle mother nature with leaf-blowing devices strapped to their bodies like missile launchers.

Few inventions in history have been as useless and annoying as the leaf-blower…in my not-so-humble boomer opinion.

It’s bad enough when spring is sprung, that we endure the onslaught of noise from gas mowers, whipper snippers, hedge trimmers, lawn tractors, and all things garden beautiful. But when we add the incessant roar of leaf-blowers to the mix, it’s enough to make a person escape to the bottom of the pool for quiet relief…like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate!

Now besides the ear-shattering, brain twisting noise, what’s so bad about leaf-blowers you ask?

1. Pollution: A 2 cylinder gas engine leaf-blower is a major contributor to pollution. It creates 299 times more hydrocarbon emissions than a pickup truck and 93 times more than an average sedan. Seriously!

2. Allergies and illness: In addition to pollution, wind blows from the nozzle of an average gas leaf-blower at approximate speeds of 180 MPH. It pulverizes everything it comes in contact with, releasing air clouds of dust, dirt and contaminants into the air we breathe:  contaminants like mould, bird and rodent feces, fungal spores, insect eggs, pollen, and toxic chemicals from lawns and gardens…all right up into our noses!

3. Danger to workers: Not only can the force of wind from the blower throw rocks at cars and people, workers are not always well protected from the hazards of using this equipment. But ironically, workers themselves strongly favour using them. Perhaps a bit of manhood symbolism is at play here…or maybe your garden variety gorillas are just too damn lazy to use those archaic things known as brooms and rakes!!!FHQJfVigUmmAANu-556x313-noPad

4. Poppycock: Leaf blowers have been banned in many communities throughout the United States and Canada. There are ongoing online petitions nationwide to expand the ban of these ridiculously annoying devices. But lawn and garden companies continue to fight back hard, citing efficiencies as the main point of reason…clean-up will take more time with rakes and brooms and therefore, more expensive to the user etc. Can failure to manage leaves with leaf-blowers mean unattractive lawns, falling home prices and perhaps the end of civilization as we know it? Sheep dung! I have watched the leaf-blower operator outside my condo numerous times, as he chases a single leaf back and forth across the parking lot in an effort to blow it into a sewer grate or back into the garden! How can that be more efficient than bending over to pick the blasted thing up or sweeping it into a bag?

5. Big money: The proliferation of leaf-blowers has more to do with marketing than efficiency. They are cheap to produce, priced to sell and aggressively marketed. This device was originally invented in the late 1950’s for use as an agricultural crop duster. From there it evolved into a leaf clean-up tool in the fall, to the current use – the ubiquitous summer weapon attacking our summer peace and quietude. The real function of leaf blowers is to line the pockets of the corporations that make them. For shame on them and all of us who buy them!

Final word: The humble rake and the much-forgotten broom offer so much more to the user than the mind-numbing noise of the leaf-blower. Rakes and brooms are quiet, more precise, far more tenacious – and help the operator keep fit by offering an excellent form of exercise while burning at least 50 calories per half hour. And as an effective peacekeeper, rakes and brooms would never think of blowing crap into your neighbour’s’ yard!

Long live rakes and brooms! Long live a peaceful summer!

I’ll see you between the lines.
Follow me on Twitter @PatSkene

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22 responses »

  1. So glad we don’t have any of that noise and pollution where we live in the country! Just the odd quad helping with chores and a noisy cigar boat rumbling in from the bay. So,peaceful!!!! Would hate all that machinery you describe so vividly disturbing our country life. But we do have lots of weeds!


  2. You are absolutely right Pat. Bravo!! We are behind you all the way. What about the noisy lawnmowers every day here or there. So proud of you. MacBeth



    • Thanks for your comment MacBeth. It’s so hard to get away from the noise of summer. It hurts my head some days. Can’t even hear the cicadas…if we even have cicadas.


  3. You bring back memories of my condo rental in Florida, which backed on a golf course. This was our normal unwelcome early morning wake up call! But that being said, it is a lot faster and easier and on our private large city lot we do use it to save our aging aching backs. So as with everything, all in moderation!


  4. I call it men out playing with their power tools. I have one neighbor who power washed his car IN THE RAIN! So I feel you pain, Pat. Nothing is worse than settling down out on the deck to enjoy the quiet and then all of a sudden RRRRRRRRRR



  5. One day I saw my neighbour come out with a shop vac for the leaves! They proceeded to vacuum up Fall from their front lawn. Maybe the bigger problem is perfectionism….


  6. Where do I sign the petition to ban leaf blowers everywhere except in large parks for the purpose of piling up leaves for pickup. Bang on with your comments.


  7. When I settle down in my yard with a cup of coffee and my laptop or novel, I don’t know whether to curse or cry when one neighbor starts up his lawnmower, another wreaks havoc with his leaf blower, and across the street yet another is tackling a tree with a chainsaw. Usually I curse then go inside until the bedlam settles down. It’s discouraging.


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