As you read this, are you listening to the sound of your neighbor’s leaf blower? Does it sound like a hoard of angry mosquitoes descending on your home? I absolutely love this time of year. Growing up in New England, Fall was always my favorite season. The brilliant reds and oranges of the maple leaves, the crisp, cool mornings, and the earthy smell of the air as the leaves started to drop to the ground. Then my dad would hand me a rake and tell me to go clean up the yard. THAT part of Fall I could seriously have done without. I can not tell you how many garbage cans full of leaves I hauled out to the woods while I was growing up! I swore that when I was older, I would buy a leaf blower and never haul away another leaf ever again. A leaf blower would have been the answer to my prayers when I was 13 but now I think if I hear that annoying buzz one more time I am going to go buy each one of my neighbors a rake!
The Leaf Blower: A lazy person’s lawn manicure
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I live in an average middle class neighborhood in the burbs of Atlanta where apparently, grass is supposed to be as clean as your living room carpet. Every single week a truck will pull up to my neighbor’s yard and out comes the mowers, trimmers, and edgers. Hired help grabs a leaf blower and jug of fertilizer. These lawn service people spend hours at every single house in my neighborhood grooming, primping, and beautify-ing all the lawns so that not a single Fall leaf dares to decompose into the earth. And did you ever notice that all those %^$*@ leaf blowers do is blow all the leaves into the middle of the road? Really? How is that helpful? All those lawn service people are doing is guaranteeing that you pay them to come back NEXT week when the wind blows those street leaves right back into your yard!
Think about This: The wind that blows from the nozzle of a leaf blower comes out at speeds close to 180 mph. Wind that strong does not occur in nature unless you are standing in the middle of a tornado. In addition, that 180MPH air is extremely hot and dry and you can pretty much guarantee that you are literally cooking your lawn.
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While you are blowing this extremely hot, dry air at your grass to remove the offensive leaves from your lawn, you are also blowing away a significant amount of top soil, drying out all the plant roots, and killing all the beneficial bacteria that live on top of the soil. Think of the devastation left behind by a tornado. Now consider that your leaf blower is a mini tornado swirling around your bushes. Devastation on a microscopic level. And if ONE of your plants happens to be sick? Maybe your roses have a fungal disease or your azaleas are harboring some nasty little aphid? Well, you have now blown those diseases to all the neighboring plants with your leaf blower. WHY? All so you can have a lawn that looks perfectly groomed and a road covered in leaves.
Know what does NOT happen to your lawn when you use your leaf blower to sterilize it? It does not get fertilized by naturally composted leaves. Nope, no natural fertilization for that sterile lawn from nature’s own leaves. Instead, those same highly paid lawn service people will gladly come back (for a small fee!) and dump some nice chemicals on your lawn. And seeing as you have now spread diseases all over half your landscaping, they will have to spray for assorted fungi and bugs while they’re at it. All because you are horrified at the mere concept of a stray leaf on your lawn.
I’m sure you have probably heard that distinctive and highly annoying BBBBUUUUUSZZZZZ on a Saturday morning, right? The lovely sound of your neighbor studiously removing every stray grass clipping or pine-cone from his yard? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that noise levels over 75 decibels can cause hearing loss and are harmful to human health. How loud is a leaf blower? At least 70-75 decibels at 50 feel away and higher at close range. Not to mention the noxious fumes from the exhaust they create! We can go deaf AND lose our hearing all at the same time. Oh, joy!
What can you do? Many cities and towns around the country are beginning to see the damage that these leaf blowers can do to the environment. Several areas have banned gasoline powered leaf blowers completely. If you’d like to initiate a ban in your city, check out the report below for helpful facts about their health and environmental impacts:
As a kid I would have gladly tossed aside my rake in favor of a leaf blower. Why? Because I was lazy and just didn’t care. That attitude is pretty much the reason why my entire neighborhood has a year round lawn service. Me? I’ll be out there in the yard with the %&*$# rake. Because I DO care! And maybe I even manage to lose a few pounds while I am at it! You burn 173 calories per hour raking leaves so ditch the leave blower and get your butt off the couch!
Are you going to be a raker or a blower?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.