Leaf blowers are still a scourge of humanity

Leaf Bolwer in action

One of this TreeHugger’s first posts was titled Leaf Blowers: Scourge of Humanity. That was over a decade ago, and they are still annoying people everywhere; David Dudley on Citylab calls them “The Devil’s Hair Dryer.”

He lists a number of problems in including pollution:

The crude little two-stroke engines used by most commercial backpack-style blowers are pollution bombs. “Simplest benchmark: running a leafblower for 30 minutes creates more emissions than driving a F-150 pickup truck 3800 miles,” [James] Fallows writes. “About one-third of the gasoline that goes into this sort of engine is spewed out, unburned, in an aerosol mixed with oil in the exhaust.”

Emissions, including particulates and dirt they kick up, and most of all “SWEET JESUS THE NOISE GAAH MAKE IT STOP. A gas blower at full cry can exceed a 100 decibels for the operator (OSHA requires hearing protections at 85)” Yet when I see people with leaf blowers banging away, they often have no ear protection at all."

TreeHugger Derek has made the case that you should just leave the leaves, let them rot and feed the grass for next season. Some have complained that this will kill the grass, but TreeHugger Emeritus noted long ago:

Unless you have oak or other astringent (tannin rich) leaves such as black walnut, there is really no need to rake a yard clean of leaves. Just be sure they don't get matted down thickly in the shade and come spring they will disappear (the magic of nature). A cursory job of raking or twice where they tend to accumulate is adequate.

Others have said that one should just use a bloody rake. Perhaps the best answer is simply to not have a bloody lawn. Then you don’t even think about the leaves, there is no grass for them to shade and kill.

Some cities have banned leaf blowers as a polluting annoyance. What do you think? Should they be banned?

Tags: Gardening | Grass | survey


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