Should Leaf Blowers Be Banned?

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.

Here’s more:

Ban Leafblowers!

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 News

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.

Diane Ackermann

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.


Witch Hazel



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).


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15 Responses to Should Leaf Blowers Be Banned?

  1. Carol Rauschenberger October 30, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    I say ban leaf blowers too!!!

  2. Jason October 30, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    God, I wish someone would ban them!

  3. Peggy Timmerman October 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Have to confess, I am a woman who uses a leaf blower, as far the best way to clear firebreaks in woodland and savanna areas! Raking a firebreak around even a two or three acre burn unit can take hours. You can get a better break in half the time with a blower. But in town, I don’t understand why people don’t just use a rake–and get rid of their lawn!

  4. Suzanne Massion October 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Have to echo Peggy. I’m a woman who loves her leaf blower. I blow leaves off my driveway, concrete deck, and gravel house border into the woods. I blow them off the street and into the 1,200 ft. long prairie where they will do some good. It usually takes me about 30 minutes tops. I could never rake all those leaves. We don’t have any lawn, just a narrow strip of grass along the streetside prairie. Another confession; I love my John Deere tractor too. It’s use has been vital in the restoration we’ve done on our property. Hope there’s forgiveness!

  5. Trish Beckjord October 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    I just have to say that one of the things I love most about your blog are the lines of poetry that introduce each entry. They are always so perfect! And I must say I remember joyously jumping in leaves. I’ve loved their smell ever since as one of the best parts of fall!

    • Pat Hill October 31, 2013 at 3:40 am #

      Thanks, Trish.

      I have a little book called A gardener’s Bouquet of Quotations by Maria Polushkin Robbins that I use a lot, plus I have Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and I find or remember a lot of things from A Sand County Almanac and Siftings. Another treasure of quotations that I use is PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon.

      I really love to find the perfect quotation for every essay.

      • Pat November 1, 2013 at 9:26 am #

        I too have thought the same. They draw you into the narrative. Perfect!

  6. Brenda Mattes-Sica October 31, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    I am also a woman who uses a leaf blower and can’t imagine what I would do with just a rake. I like the leaf blower to help clear the yard of leaves but really like it to make the burn break. With 6 acres of Oak woodland, I remember the days of just trying to rake the burn break around the perimeter and around each oak tree, the leaf blower is a godsend. Also like Suzanne, I have another implement that I can’t live without and that is is my Stihl brush trimmer, very helpful in restoration.

  7. PatHill October 31, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    Peggy, Suzanne, and Brenda

    It absolutely makes sense to use a leaf blower in your circumstances. I was thinking only about using them in town.

    • Suzanne Massion October 31, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks, Pat. The particular circumstances do make the difference. Now I want a Stihl brush trimmer like Brenda’s. I’ll ask Santa.

  8. PATTY October 31, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Love the quotations and pictures of beautiful children in the leaves!

  9. Pat Glen November 12, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    Especially appreciate the steps outlined for killing off turf grass over the winter. Have plenty of leaves to accomplish this.

    • Pat Hill November 12, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Go for it.

  10. Diane Hilscher December 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I can understand how leaf blowers could have a highly annoying noise and unhealthy turbulence stirring up debris and dust and it’s wishful thinking to expect the landscape industry to have knowledgeable, sensitive use of them. Education within the industry is possible through nursery and landscape associations.
    Homeowners are a whole different story, and sensible use depends on how sensible and kind the neighbor is. And if there is an sound ordinance in your neighborhood.
    However, out here in the country, on three acres of prairie, oak savanna and woods, (I’m a landscape architect and native plant ecologist, Wild Ones chapter president, etc.) I finally, after 14 years, broke down and bought a $5 leaf blower at a garage sale. We blow out leaves from the tiny dry bed stream in the front garden. Oh, so much better than sitting for hours picking them out! And it’s neat to blow out the garage. And my husband rakes the postage stamp areas of fescue-blend lawn areas then blows the leaves out into the woods. In small applications, (and away from neighbors) leaf blowers can be highly useful!

  11. Susan Clark October 5, 2015 at 2:58 am #

    Leaf Blowers
    If there’s one thing in Rossmoor that I do abhor
    It’s those nasty leaf blowers – their infernal roar!
    I can’t go outside lest my lungs get infested
    With all manner of dust that insects have digested

    It just seems to me the height of depravity
    To mechanically spin up my poor nasal cavity
    Dirty gas laced with oil laced with nasty pollutants
    At an outlandish volume, it’s more than imprudent.

    Neighborhoods nationwide have voted emphatically
    To ban these machines and get peace automatically.
    Let’s give it a rest folks, it’s high time we divested
    From this infernal menace we never requested.

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