Saturday, November 26, 2016

Leaf Blowers

I have been annoyed for a long time at how noisy it is to live in the suburbs. In the nicest seasons, in summer and fall, lawn machines and leaf blowers are a constant, loud, and annoying irritant all around our neighborhood, our own yard included.

This article titled "The Case Against Leaf Blowers" sums it up well.

Although bans on gas leaf blowers have been enacted in some places, the noise of landscaping machines is with us in most suburbs. Just as it is here. We keep a grass lawn and we mow every week all summer and fall.

We use a leaf blower in autumn, although it is electric and so less polluting but just as noisy and irritating.

All our neighbors have landscapers who mow and use leaf blowers too.

You can't escape the noise and I don't think we are going to realistically get to a point where power tools are completely banned across the country.

The article agrees, summing it up: "ours is a nation too vast to be groomed by hand tools."

At our ages, we could not continue to live here in this green, leafy suburb if we had to use a reel mower and rake by hand. No landscaping company has the manpower or could afford to provide hand maintenance for hire.

But eliminating yard maintenance and moving to a condo in the suburbs simply means the hired help does the maintenance of common lawns and cleans up the walkways and leaf drop -- that doesn't solve the noise problem. It merely means we aren't doing the leaf blowing, a maintenance company is getting paid to do it for the condo owners.

So . . . move to a city? No lawns, little greenery, but blessed relief from leaf blowers?

People move out of cities to escape the noise and pollution of urban life, then find the open spaces and green refuges have their own irritants of noise and pollution. I like how the article ends, with this observation:
"One might wonder why we’ve chosen to make our homes in places that cannot be maintained without annoying each other so flagrantly. Perhaps this goes to the troubled heart of the suburban promise: These are environments conceived as peaceful respites from human disorder, places predicated on the assumption that other people are fundamentally irritants. And when we move there, we discover just how true that can be."
The answer of course, is to eliminate  suburban lawns entirely and let fallen leaves replenish the soil as they decay, as nature does in the forest.

But the suburb is not a forest, and can't be. Alternatives to lawns or pseudo wild environments have their own issues . . .  and yes, hefty and annoying irritants.

Maybe those irritants are more aesthetic issues or maintenance conflicts rather than the Gaah, make it stop torture of roaring leaf blowers.

I'm not ready to rip out our lawn or let the forest take over. I do think I'd like to live somewhere quieter, though. The noisy city has appeal.


  1. I would love it if we could have specific days of the week for lawncare, just like trash removal. I wouldn't be as bothered if just two days a week there was noise in my area. This summer saw major construction in our town, with a big downtown road overhaul and the school next to us undergoing major renovation. The noise was at home from 5am to 7pm. Downtown where I work, noise 7am-8pm. I was surprised how much of an effect that construction noise had on our family!

  2. I live in the city and my neighbor has a leaf blower! Plus we have the noise of buses, fire trucks, helicopters.... There's a constant hum. My aunt and uncle used to live in the country and the only sound around them was a creek. It was glorious!

  3. It's the overly manicured "look" of lawns and yards that cause the use of loud polluting garden machinery. Our yards used to be a relief from the pollution and chaos of modern life, now they are the CAUSE of pollution and chaos in modern life. Through simple planting changes of ground cover using native plants and switching around a few things in your yard.... We can easily see that we NOT NEED THESE MACHINES. Shrink the lawn! We got along fine in the 1970s, 80's and 90's without the leaf blowers and weed whackers and millions of 'mow and blow guys' for hire and we will again.