Should Leaf Blowers be Banned?
For those of us who enjoy a walk around the neighborhood on a lovely fall weekend, noisy leaf blowers with a multi-decibel whine can destroy tranquility, conversation, and ones hearing. Birdsong, rustling leaves, and laughter are drowned out. And noise isn’t the only pollution the leaf blower produces. It also stirs up dust and particulate matter, while carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and hydrocarbons all escape from the engine in large quantities.
Leafblowers literally scour the earth: stripping off topsoil, desiccating roots, and killing vital soil-dwelling organisms, while, at the same time, propelling into the air clouds of dirt, dust and dangerous contaminants: volatile compounds, mold and fungal spores, weed seeds, insect eggs, pollen, molecules of the myriads of toxic chemicals people spray and sprinkle on their gardens, trees, and lawns, not to mention bird and rodent feces, and more.
By Winifred Rosen, Guest Commentator
I’ve never seen a woman use a leaf blower–are leaf blowers phallic symbols that men really enjoy operating–especially when they climb up on the roof to blow the leaves out of the gutters? What a guy!
I had neighbor once who diligently blew all the leaves off his corner lot lawn, then the parkway, and then into the gutter in the street. He then blew them from all angles meticulously into neat piles. All this took HOURS. He could have done all this with a bamboo rake in an hour
Wouldn’t it be more manly to use a rake that requires some muscle to use?
A bamboo rake makes a pleasant scrunchy sound, as opposed to the blasting noise of the leaf blower.
In addition, raking leaves is quicker than blowing them off a lawn.
Why do we look upon leaves as something to get rid of as soon as possible? Is it because they mar our Astroturf-like perfect lawns? Doesn’t anyone consider that we’re interfering with the cycle of life? Above all, leaves are food for the trees from which they fall.
Leaves can be used for mulch, burned in place in the savanna, (more on this next month) or best of all, provide lots of fun for children’s play. I remember, as a child, raking leaves into a floor plan of a house, then adding leaf chairs and beds.
What I do now is invite my grandchildren over to rake the leaves into a big pile so they can jump into them, bury themselves in them, and throw them into the air. This is followed by hot cocoa with marshmallows and cookies.
Children love to play in piles of leaves, hurling them into the air like confetti, leaping into soft unruly mattresses of them.
The Natural History of the Senses
The best thing to do, of course, is to get rid of most of our lawns–then we won’t think of fallen leaves as unsightly.
Fallen oak leaves on multi-colored Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) foliage.
Golden, heart-shaped leaves that have fallen from the Redbud trees on my patio are extraordinarily beautiful.
Use your leaves to make new gardens–it’s easy.
Mark off the area where you want to remove the sod with a hose, cover the area with several thicknesses of newspaper, wet it down, and cover the paper with a thick layer of leaves. I’ve always encircled it with little wire fences to keep the leaves and newspaper from blowing away. That’s it. By spring, most of the grass will have died, the newspaper will have deteriorated, and the leaves will have decomposed.
Same area–a few years later.– May 2008
No lawn, just native wild flowers, ferns, and sedges on the north side of my garage after the sod was smothered to make a garden. The plants grow thickly, therefore need no weeding. After establishment, no watering is needed either. The shrub with the white flowers is Black Haw (Viburnum prunefolium). the blue flowers are Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans) and the yellow flowers in the distance are Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum).