Are Leaf Blowers Disturbing The Peace? Should They Be Banned?

NPR has an extremely funny news piece about Newton, Mass., a pleasant suburban town in which the residents enjoy their neatly manicured laws… but at what cost to their sanity?

Some residents of a leafy suburb of Boston are fighting over what to do with all the leaves. Residents of Newton, Mass., say they are being tormented by the noise coming from the gas-powered leaf blowers that are now everywhere.

Oh no!

“We’re surrounded by these horrible deafening sounds,” one resident moans during a debate over gas-powered leaf blowers at Newton’s City Hall.

“It sounds like there is a jet stalled over my home,” says another.

“My fury at feeling trapped lasts… is this the day when they are coming? Can I get out?”

We especially enjoyed the part when “Landscaper Joe” tells NPR about the magical leaf blowers he uses to blow a tornado of debris three stories into the air. He is unable to contain his excitement as he describes them:

“We almost never touch a rake anymore. We don’t have to sweep stairs…nothing! You just blow everything clean after you cut. You know. The doormat goes flying! We’ve set off the car alarms! Oh yeah…[laughter].”

Joe says he can’t imagine going back to raking, and doesn’t think homeowners would pay increased bills for quieter landscaping. “Are we going to back to walking? Are we not going to take cars?”

Do these leaf blowers bother you? Newton’s residents are trying to ban them completely.


Town Weighs Ban on Leaf Blowers
[NPR]
(Photo:Beat Machine)

Comments

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  1. CamilleR says:

    About the closest I ever came to murder was the time a guy was using his leaf blower right outside where I was working. After 30 minutes, I figured it could be justifiable homicide since the noise was so awful.
    I never got the point of leaf blowers any how. Don’t the leaves still need to go somewhere? Do these people just blow their leaves onto other people’s property or do they blow it into piles that then need to be bagged or otherwise disposed of?

  2. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Here in LA, the noise is no big whoop.

    If memory serves, some LA areas instituted a ordinance that states you can only use a leaf-blower during certain times, like after 9am when most people would be working. And leaves must be blown into bags and disposed of (we have green recycling bins for this). Beats wasting water and hosing them down the sewage system.

    Bear in mind many people in LA use gardener services: rarely do residents take care of their own lawns. So to make them rake leaves would raise prices, many complained about losing wages, so the leaf-blowers stayed.

  3. yikz says:

    I’ve experienced this same leafblower hatred in Minneapolis. There are several neighborhoods that have brought this to the Minneapolis City Council. The issue here is that a few people hate gas-powered yard machines.

    Surprisingly, no one mentions weedwhackers, snowblowers, edgers, lawnmowers, and chainsaws. I have every device mentioned above, all gas powered, and the chainsaw is the loudest (and least used). The snowblower is quite loud. The lawnmower is tied with the snowblower for noise, and is used more than the leaf blower. But the leaf blower gets used after mowing to blow grass clippings from the driveway and the sidewalk.
    Minneapolis, this has been brought up every year since at least 2004.
    I just did a search on the subject. The Boston Globe apparently dusts off this terrible problem every fall. They have articles dating back to 1998. Do the newspapers have an agenda?

  4. BuddhaLite says:

    Honestly how much louder is a gas blower over say a lawn mower or even an electric blower? All this is about is people being ultra sensitive.

  5. Mr.Purple says:

    @bevill
    It is called being American.
    Land of the free, home of the over-complainers.

  6. SOhp101 says:

    They’re banned in a lot of cities in Orange County.

    You can smell the fumes that spew out of that thing even if you’re across the block not to mention the crazy amount of noise pollution.

    Suburbians have such unrealistic expectations for their style of living.

  7. RumorsDaily says:

    All gas-powered gardening equipment seems very, very loud. The engines are much louder than car engines. Can someone who knows about power explain why that’s the case? Can’t we just put mufflers on leaf blowers, snow blowers, lawn mowers, chainsaws and weedwhackers and just avoid this whole problem?

  8. hubris says:

    Eh, it’s Newton. They like to bitch about almost everything. Bunch of people with too much money and time on their hands. Also…hippies.

  9. godawgs7 says:

    While at UGA in Athens, GA I lived downtown. Almost every morning at 7am they would come and blow the streets. I researched it and the law said you couldnt start noisy yard work until 8 or 9….except if you were a state organization, which exempted the damn street blowers.

    Needless to say after many emails to the city council men they started blowing at 730.

    government in action.

  10. homerjay says:

    If there was a more mamby-pamby, whiny city in America than Newton, MA, I certainly haven’t found it.

  11. Chicago7 says:

    What ever happened to rakes? Quiet, lightweight (lighter than that blower), efficient.

    Seems like the way to go.

  12. Bryan Price says:

    @Bevill: Quite a bit, actually.

    We had a neighbor that would blow all the dust out of our cul-de-sac and blow it towards the creak that is behind that. The sound was horrendous, I could have mowed that area in one tenth the time he spent doing it, and the dust cloud raised hung around for hours.

    He moved, the town came around and redid the roads and the water/sewer stuff, regraded the cul-de-sac, and put a storm sewer at the end of it. I haven’t seen that end flood yet. It will be interesting if when it does.

  13. Alvis says:

    Don’t these two-strokes need a muffler, like a moped does?

  14. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    solution – limit the hours of operation from 9am-12 pm Sat Sun and Mon

  15. mfaerber says:

    Gas powered leaf blowers are the devil.

    That said, I do suck up my leaf piles with an electric leaf vac that shreds them. I then send them to the compost pile or use them like a mulch. I use the “Toro Ultra Blower Vac” and I recomend it: [www.toro.com]

  16. Jim C. says:

    “Are Leaf Blowers Disturbing The Peace?”

    Yes.

    “Should They Be Banned?”

    Yes.

  17. EtherealStrife says:

    @SOhp101: I’m one of the rare OCers who do their own gardening. I use all corded electric because of the noise ordinances, and ease of use. The cords are only a pain the first couple times you use the equipment, and there’s no messing with gasoline. I’ve only had compliments since I started doing my own lawn, since Mexicans always use gas and sometimes get an early start. The sound of electric is amazingly low after listening to gas for so long…people think I’m vacuuming until they see the mower!
    While I don’t personally use a blower, I can see the appeal. They’re ridiculously cheap, and you can just blow debris into piles without differentiating between leaves and grass clippings (I mulch). I have to use a shop broom for cleaning up the sidewalk and driveway, and a rake for leaves. It’d be much easier on the back to just blow it into a pile or suck it up.
    For Irvine you actually need a special permit and training course to legally operate a gas powered leaf blower…I’m not sure if that’s county-wide or just city. I doubt the Mexicans bother with it, but it is the law.

    @RumorsDaily: I’m guessing the lack of a sophisticated exhaust is the main problem. Cars have more space and $ to work with to minimize noise and air pollution. You just can’t fit as much on a portable unit. The gas powered mowers I looked at when shopping around for gardening equipment DID have mufflers (of a sort), but cars have a lot more than just a muffler to dampen sound. I recall a time when I was helping a friend work on his car, and we didn’t tighten a nut quite as tight as it needed to be on the y-pipe (part of the exhaust near the front of his car). The resulting microscopic gap between two pipes in the exhaust system made the v6 sound like a formula 1. :)

  18. Alvis says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: So we can’t sleep in on the weekend? No thanks.

  19. EtherealStrife says:

    Ah yes and to respond to the question in the title, gas powered leaf blowers CAN disturb the peace. They should be banned, along with all other gas powered gardening equipment.

    I’m a bit biased though.

  20. timmus says:

    Leaf blowers and edgers are two things that boggle my mind. People are too anal about their yards.

  21. huginn says:

    my cousin lives in newton and I’ve been to his place several times.

    It’s a highly concentrated Jewish population community. They’d complain about the lack of marble rye variation in the supermarket and make national news about it if they could.

  22. kingoman says:

    I hate them but it isn’t even the noise as much as the waste. We burn gas, putting more greenhouse gases into the air, in order to move leaves from point A to point B. It doesn’t even SOLVE the problem, it just moves the problem to someone elses’ property or into the street. Half of them blow back onto sidewalks and driveways later anyway.

    We don’t solve problems anymore, we just shift the responsibility to others. In that respect, leaf blowers are an excellent example of exactly what’s wrong with us.

  23. catskyfire says:

    I hate leaf blowers. I wish they would use leaf suckers. Most of the time when people use blowers, they don’t blow the leaves and stuff to a spot to dispose of. Where I am, at least, they aim it for the street.

    Now, I’ll take the noise if someone is using the leaf sucker that then allows for easy discarding…

  24. zara_h says:

    I live 2 miles from LAX … so, no. Compared to a giant airplane taking off over my head every half hour, leaf blowers are kid stuff.

  25. asherchang says:

    I just love how Joe revels in blowing doormats and setting off car alarms. However, I do think that there’s nothing wrong with a rake, even though residents bitching about noise strikes me as bitchy as my backyard neighbors always set off loud fireworks throughout the months of June and July, when they complain about a dog barking.

  26. CoffeeAddict says:

    Yes there are mufflers for most gas powered tools like blowers, chainsaws, weed wackers, etc..but they greatly kill the power of those tools. I think that the people of Newton are being ultra-sensitive and need to get with the times. Although rakes work great and other hand tools are good if it’s just your own yard they can definately tire you out if you have to do several yards in a day as your job. My family for 4 generations has done work of that sort and gas powered tools are a godsend. I am not in the family business but I heard many customers or neighbours who complained about the sound of the chainsaws etc and really I don’t care. We are in 2007 not 1907 and we don’t use hand saws to cut down trees anymore so get with the times or get out.

  27. Televiper says:

    I’d say about half the noise produced by a leaf blower is due to the actual fan mechanism. So if you had electric leaf blowers with modern electric drives you’d still have a loud defining din. The sound of the blower and the air rushing through the pipes is significant enough to still warrant ear protection. You’d only be eliminating the clatter of the 2 stroke engine. There was a guy in Manitoba, Canada who invented a catalytic converter for 2 stroke engines but couldn’t sell it because no manufacturer wanted to justify adding $3 to the cost of a lawnmower or weed-whacker.

    I remember one day I got the afternoon off due to a power outage. Was completely dismayed to crack open a beer, sit on my balcony, and find out that my neighbour with the boorishly loud lawnmower decided to mow is lawn.

  28. Buran says:

    @homerjay: So just because people are bothered by unceasing noise they’re whiny? Maybe they have a legit case.

  29. f0nd004u says:

    As someone who works/worked in landscaping, I have to be the only one here to sing the praises of gas blowers. I’ll try to answer the questions I saw up above.

    First of all: NO, electric equipment is not an option. There’s no place for a landscape worker to plug into. Think about it: when you use your electric blower, you plug into your garage. Landscape workers don’t have access to that, and theres not really such thing as a battery-power blower.

    Second: I’m sure there are mufflers for those things, but I’m also sure that they’re expensive. Most of the small-motor equipment like edgers, weedwhackers and backpack blowers are two-stroke, which means they’re loud and whiny. Blowers are especially loud because of all the air they’re moving around. There’s not really a way around that.

    Thirdly: Yeah, they’re loud. But the thing is, they’re really, really effective. We used these on a golf course, and I would never, ever use a rake again. For these guys who are working entire suburban streets at a time, theres not really an option. What this community should do is set restrictions on the times that the landscapers can work: what about when everyone else has already left for the office? The course had people living around it, and we started at 5AM most of the time; I don’t think they ever complained.

    And besides, it could be a whole lot worse. On the course, we use a blower that gets towed behind a gator, with a remote control to change direction and power. That thing is LOUD, and really really powerful. One of the guys I worked with is really skinny, and we totally blew him on his ass with it.

  30. infinitysnake says:

    I hate leaf blowers- I have to wake up every saturday am to horrendous noise, and then rake everyone else’s fing leaves out of my yard. They’re loud, wasteful, and pointless…like using a hairdryer to sweep the kitchen.

  31. nardo218 says:

    FWIW, in Philly suburbs, there’s a leaf collection truck that sucks the leaves from the piles by the curb. So you blow you leaves into the street and rake them so they’re only flowing into 1/4 of the street. Parking is delightful in fall.

    Lawn mowers in summer piss me off more than leaf blowers. Every fucking day someone is cutting off another tenth of an inch of their golf lawn.

  32. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    It’s not the noise level of leaf blowers that drives people crazy, it’s that the users constantly rev them for no damn reason.
    If they just ran them at a constant speed, the way a lawn mower works, there would be a lot fewer complaints.

  33. erockO says:

    The [catalog.redmax.com] is undoubtedly the most popular blower amongst landscapers as they are useful from everything from grass clippings, leaves, general cleanup and even snow. This equipment saves an unbelievable amount of work at the cost of running at about 80dB. I personally use one everyday and although they are loud, it is by no means unbearable. The earliest we would ever fire one up is 7am and although it may seem early, it is not unreasonable . People need to make a living and it’s respectable that they can wake up this early and slave away…

  34. spidra says:

    Yes, leaf blowers are annoying. Yes, I wish they were banned. Not only do they cause noise pollution, they add to air pollution. And I’m not ignoring mowers, either.

    “Are we going to back to walking? Are we not going to take cars?”

    Well, yeah. We damned well should. Peak oil is here. Global warming is getting close to irreversible. Use a rake. Buy a no-mow lawn mix. Or get rid of the lawn altogether and put something lower maintenance there.

  35. Zombietime says:

    This is no different than the constant exhaust noise of harleys and suvs/pickup trucks. There are noise ordinances but they’re rarely enforced. Quality of life in most towns is garbage due to all the noise these days.

  36. guroth says:

    I dread Wednesdays because that is when the leaf blowers come to my apartment complex.

    They should research making those things quieter for sure.

  37. Maulleigh says:

    Yes they’re annoying and loud and burn fossil fuel when people should use their arms and exercise.

  38. homerjay says:

    @Buran: Oh not at all. Just beause it bothers them doesn’t make them whiny. The fact they they go so far as to try to create laws to criminalize what they find annoying is INCREDIBLY whiny.

    I don’t like homeless people. They ask me for money when I walk by them. Can I ban them? I don’t like loud motorcycles- they’re just stupid. Ban them please.

    Grow up- we live in a world with other people.. You’re not the only ones that live here. If you don’t like living in a the suburbs where people have to clean up their leaves for 1 month out of the year, then move into Boston and complain about some REAL noise.

  39. OnceWasCool says:

    LOUD leaf blower sell. The quieter onces are believed to have less power. I guess it is a leaf blower envy?

  40. cac67 says:

    @spidra: Are we going to back to walking? Are we not going to take cars?” Well, yeah. We damned well should.

    We should? Have you?

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    I think it’s the frequency of the whine (they aim for that perfect, denstist-drill pitch) that annoys. And 2-stroke engines are nortoriously leaky – they pollute FAR more per HP than anything out there. Coupled with the Quien es más macho shoppers that equate loudness for power. Plus the pushing leaves onto someone else’s yard nature of them vs rakes.

    That said, it’s primarily poor laborers that fat-assed suburban dads hire that get the brunt of the heat. Who are too cheap to pay for a muffled, eco-friendly alternative. Let alone paying enough to tempt a local neighbor kid to do it.

    If there was some way to push back the reqs so the owner had to suck it up, instead of the poor laborer, I’d be for it. Alas…

  42. HungryGrrl says:

    I don’t get Joe Landscaper’s argument that not using a leaf blower would result in his landscaping service costing the consumer more. He probably jacked up his prices when he bought the $600 gadget in the first place, and he’s got to put gas in it. Raking and sweeping does require more time on his part, but the less expensive tools and lack of fuel cost should bring things to being nearly equal.

    Additionally, I have been very peeved at how landscaping companies are exempt from the “no lawnmowing before 9 am” courtesy. I used to live next to a bank and there would be landscapers out there at the crack of dawn on weekends, mowing and leaf blowing. If anything towns should make rules restricting the hours that landscapers can work in residential areas, instead of making the equipment illegal.

  43. peggynature says:

    I hate these effing things. They are louder than Jesus. I use a broom. But for professional gardeners, I can understand that it might save them some repetitive strain injury or something. I also agree that a leaf vacuum might be the better way to go, since blowing leaves around hardly solves anything unless you then … wait for it … RAKE them into a bag.

    Then again, I also hate lawns and almost everything they entail. I am lazy and un-American.

  44. thepounder says:

    Wow… it seems from the comments that far too many commenters live far too close to their neighbors. That’s more the problem than a leaf-blower.

    Leaf-blowers don’t annoy people, people annoy people.

  45. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    We all have to live together, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “Hey, for the common courtesy of others that are trying to sleep, knock it off with the leaf blowers at 6 AM.”

    I realize that there’s a freedom issue at stake here. It’s the “It’s America, I should be able to do anything I want” thing VS. being respectful and kind to other people. Just heading out on the road for a 20 minute drive shows that there’s no courtesy and respect left any more, so maybe the only way is to mandate it. If anyone had any empathy towards their neighbors, there would be no need for any regulations, but these days people don’t give a carp about anyone but themselves. Sad.

  46. louisb3 says:

    Their complaints are legitimate; the leaf blowers’ noise are adversely affecting their quality of life. The inconsiderate ones aren’t the ones who want freedom from noise; they’re the ones who are inconsiderately generating lots of noise.

    We’ve learned to live with noise from cars and trucks because transportation is a noisy necessity. Moving leaves around might be necessary, but the amount of noise that leaf blowers generate is disproportionate to their usefulness.

    I shouldn’t have to live with leaf blowers any more than I should have to deal with neighbors who leave their radio turned up in the back yard when they’re not home, or neighbors who ignore their barking dog for eight hours a day. It’s noise pollution.

  47. louisb3 says:

    @thepounder: Actually, they probably live too far away. If they lived closer, they’d have smaller lawns and less need to use leaf blowers.

    Unless you’re suggesting that everyone live so far away from one another that they can never hear what’s going on in their neighbors’ yards – which probably isn’t viable for anyone.

  48. synergy says:

    I hate gas leaf blowers and they piss me off too. If at least all the racket was of something SUCKING UP the damn leaves, it wouldn’t hate them so much. But using air to randomly try to push leaves off onto someone else, that’s just friggin lazy and irresponsible. Pick them up!

  49. synergy says:

    @mfaerber: I was about to make a snarky comment about something either blowing or vacuuming when I saw the Toro actually does both. AND it shreds. Impressive. “Reduces 16 bags of leaves down to 1″ Is that true? With the shredder, I assume?

  50. thepounder says:

    @louisb3: It’s viable for me. My point is if you live in one of those neighborhoods where everyone has cookie-cutter houses and you can see into your neighbor’s living room from your kitchen, you live too close. I lived like that before and yes, stupid neighbors do stupid things, so I bought a house out in the country… problem solved. I can see my neighbors – if you can really even call them that – but I cannot hear them unless there’s an explosion in their yard. As such, they can do as much stupid crap as they like and it does not bother me one bit.

    Thus your “correction” to my opinion isn’t necessarily appreciated.

    So I say again, leaf-blowers don’t annoy people, people annoy people.

  51. “Surprisingly, no one mentions weedwhackers, snowblowers, edgers, lawnmowers, and chainsaws.”

    Well, there are different levels of annoyance. People don’t usually run their weedwhackers or edgers or chainsaws for 40 minutes straight. Snowblowers I loathe but a) having all the windows shut muffles the noise and b) I’m sympathetic to the “need” for snowblowers. Like for my neighbor who had a snow-shovel heart attack.

    Lawnmowers and leafblowers, though, make me want to go STRANGLE people. It’s hard to enjoy a quiet Saturday when everybody and their mother is mowing their lawn in sequence all day. Couldn’t they all do it at 10 a.m. or something? The house behind me has a golf-course yard and no matter what time of day or day of the week we’re in our backyard attempting to enjoy some quiet outdoor time, her son drops by to mow the effing yard. And he takes FOREVER. He makes like FOUR PASSES. EVERY TIME. (Probably the lawnmowers down the street wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if it weren’t for this jackass.)

    Leaf blowers, tho, are just SO LOUD and in the hands of homeowners make the leaf process take a helluva lot longer than just RAKING them.

    “There’s no place for a landscape worker to plug into. Think about it: when you use your electric blower, you plug into your garage.”

    Maybe I live in crazy world, but who doesn’t have an outdoor outlet? Where do you plug your Christmas lights into? I’m sure it’s different in other parts of the country, but where I live, EVERY house has an outdoor outlet.

    As for why motors are so loud on lawn equipment, they’re almost entirely unregulated and it turns out to be a pretty powerful lobby. They’re super-pollutey, as a rule, and guzzle gas.

    We switched to a reel mower (largely because I got sick of paying for gas for the gas mower) and could not be happier. Mowing is actually a PLEASANT chore now. And the damn thing costs a lot less to maintain, and nothing whatever to run.

    (BTW, the most annoying sound on MY block is my neighbors who are building a deck to cover their ENTIRE – yes, ENTIRE – backyard. Every summer, 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, with the hammers and saws, on and on and on. They’ve only got about a quarter of it left to cover, though.)

  52. Anonymous says:

    Los Angeles calling in-

    Every week, I’ve got a guy who blows clippings and leaves all over the alley next to my building. He does this for maybe an hour and it is LOUD. I’ve often wondered “A broom could sweep that up in 5 minutes and put less chemicals in his face.”

    I admit that I have no experience with leaf blowers and alleys but, when I was a kid, rakes were very effective on lawns. And their quiet. I miss those days.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I work at home in a town with lots of trees. The lots are all about one quarter acre. There is a cycle of two weeks of crazy making noise and choking exhaust smell. Then one week off where you can enjoy quiet suburban life. This goes on for four months or until the first snow. The noise is from 7am until dusk and it’s not just leaf blowers. There are the giant vacuums that suck the pile of leaves into the truck. I am not convinced that the blowers are more efficient than rakes. Folks around here used to do their lawns with rakes in a weekend. Now six guys come out with their blowers and take the same amount of time. What do I do? I let the wind blow the leaves into the corners and go out with a bamboo rake to take out the excess.

  54. cryrevolution says:

    Oh bajeebus. I live in an apartment complex and there is NO escaping those blasted things. They come like every other day and wake me up in the morning. It’s like they TRY to be the most annoying. Now, ban them? I don’t know about all that. Maybe do like MyCokesBiggerThanYours said, make them only operable between certain hours, so as to limit the amount of people being bothered.

  55. thepounder says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Wow… synchronized lawn mowing.

    So glad you don’t live near me. You’d really hate my riding mower. ;) j/k.

    It is a funny thought though… “5 4 3 2 1 Start your mowing!” And the whole neighborhood begins mowing at once. Sounds a bit like The Truman Show.

  56. Sudonum says:

    @Televiper:
    “There was a guy in Manitoba, Canada who invented a catalytic converter for 2 stroke engines but couldn’t sell it because no manufacturer wanted to justify adding $3 to the cost of a lawnmower or weed-whacker.”

    Do you have a citation for this? Because a catalytic converter is a pollution control device and if it does supress noise it would only be as a side effect. Secondly, catalytic converters contain platinum and can be quite costly. Thirdly, I believe that South Coast Air Management District and the California Air Resources Board have looked at converters for 2 stroke engines but the fuel/oil mixture tends to foul them so that they clog and never really reach a temperature where they can properly work. It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in pollution control issues in CA, so my memory is fuzzy.

    Also both of these agencies have been looking at ways to control pollution from these engines as well as buldozers, tractors, and other non-road going sources. But as has been stated previously, some very strong lobbys at work there.

  57. Mr. Gunn says:

    I have the solution. Plant trees and wildflowers and other things that don’t require maintenance.

    yeah, I know…then you couldn’t make your house look exactly like the one next door and busybody neighborhood organizations couldn’t rules…

    Cry me a fucking river, though. Y’all are the dumbasses that moved there in the first place.

  58. mfaerber says:

    RE: SYNERGY AT 12:30 PM

    It probably depends on the leaves and if they are damp or not… but I’d say that it’s closer to “4 to 1″, which is still pretty awesome. As usual, I did a lot of research before I bought that particular brand/model (at Lowes btw).

  59. tph says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    “I’m sympathetic to the “need” for snowblowers.”

    How can you be sympathetic to the “need” for snow blowers but not the “need” for leaf blowers?

    Just as people can rake the leaves manually, people can shovel their own damn driveways (or hire a neighbour kid to do it).

    I’ve got a 3/4 acre lot, and this is the first year (of 3 leaving here) that I’ve finally broken down and bought a leaf blower (though it is electric). Yes, I can rake the leaves myself, but there’s only so much time in the day. I’d rather spend 20 minutes blowing the leaves into a pile (and then sucking them up with the vac and mulching them) than an hour and a half raking and bagging them.

    Mulched leaves make better compost anyways.

  60. newtonite says:

    I live in Newton, in one of the villages called Auburndale. What actually triggered this wasn’t the single user homeowner, it was the landscaping companies that use several of them at once. The opposition grew to include the single user homeowner. There’s stuff in the news about limiting the hours of operation and number of units that can be used simultaneously. I think a total ban is a political ploy to limit use – a compromise of sorts. A single homeowner tends to use it weekends or evenings and may take a long time. Some find that annoying. A landscapers heavy duty version can create a tornado of dust and it annoys me when I have to use the spritzers to clear the neighbors dusty crud off my car. Not so much the about car really, but it makes me think what we breathe. And the volume of several in use at once is a bit much by any standard.

    And about being a Jewish area, not in this sector. There was one Jewish student in my kids class of 27. Metco (the racially based program that brings Boston black students to the suburbs) has seven students in the same grade. And our schools are overcrowded and requiring trailer classrooms, but this is a whole different subject. Metco was recently struck down in the court, and they are averting race for income based busing.

    I don’t have a solution for the blowers that’d make everyone happy, but there should be a means to limit the noise (several commercial units running at once is a bit much) and dust (some are incredibly powerful wind machines) created by these machines. I’d think that a small gas or electric unit would fulfill that need. And a landscaper that moves in with several at once to be efficient shouldn’t be allowed.

  61. synergy says:

    @tph: You don’t NEED to pick up the leaves. They’re not going to prevent you from getting to work or the grocery store. Elderly/disabled/ill people can’t shovel either or they do and end up having a heart attack.

  62. edgarj455 says:

    Good old Massachusetts. A friend vacationing in MASS. showed me an article stating that a man threw a heir brush at his wife and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. What every happen to Live free or die?, or am I thinking of the wrong state? Well gotta go, it’s 6 AM gotta see if the damn leaf blower will start. Can’t be burning daylight.

  63. @tph: “How can you be sympathetic to the “need” for snow blowers but not the “need” for leaf blowers?”

    What tph said. I did put “need” in quotes. :) Snowblowers aren’t technically NEEDED, but you can’t leave your house if your driveway is snowed in. Leaves just blow around. They don’t impede anything or anyone.

    Also, typically older people can manage raking (very lightweight tool, fairly easy work; a leaf blower may actually make it HARDER for some people because of the weight), but shoveling heavy wet (“heart attack”) snow can be difficult even for strong men, let alone frail elderly people.

  64. I live in a similarly upscale neighborhood on the north shore of Boston. I work at home, and I rent. All day, the leafblowers and the lawnmowers roar. They’re all run by landscaping companies, and pretty much every owner on the street, apparently, uses them weekly. This obsession with pristine, unreal lawns is ridiculous. Beyond that, there IS such a thing as noise pollution, and this is it. It’s not about whining, for God’s sake. It’s about cutting into a peaceful quality of life (and for me, work) for what comes down to an entitled people competition to have the most manicured lawn.

  65. dan19936 says:

    Use a blower. Go to Jail.
    [www.discovernikkei.org]

  66. mac-phisto says:

    i’m just trying to imagine the look on the average neuvoriche suburbanite in my area throw a fit when their weekly lawn maintenance bill goes from $80 to $150. priceless.

  67. Leaf blowers don’t bother me any more or less than lawnmowers, poorly maintained cars, barking dogs or shouting children. All of which we all experience in our neighborhoods. If the city wants to establish a noise ordinance to get rid of leaf blowers, it should apply across the board to all outdoor noise.

    Get over it.

  68. MeOhMy says:

    To me there is something zen-like about raking leaves on a crisp fall or spring morning and spending the afternoon with a beer in your hand dozing through football games.

    You just don’t get that with a blower.

    The noise of those 2-stroke engines really is loud. I’m embarassed to use my snowblower, but there are few tasks I loathe more than shovelling snow.

  69. rjhiggins says:

    @Huginn: And being Jewish (which certainly does not describe much of Newton anyway) is relevant here just how?

    I want to hear you talk your way out of this anti-Semitic comment.

  70. Rider says:

    Can someone explain to me what use these things are? I mewan if they were vacums which removed grass clippings and dead leaves I could understand but alll these useless things do is blow your trash into the street or the neighbours yard.

  71. OtherMichael says:

    I hate the d**n things.

    Bad enough on the leaves — but when bldg maintenance uses them on the sidewalk instead of a broom, where does the crap go? Into the air and street.

    Oh, great — your mess, our problem. Plus, the dust-filled air is not exactly heaven for my hard contacts….

  72. royal72 says:

    you can always burn down all of the trees. no trees, no leaves, no leaf blowers, problem solved.