Science Says

Coming soon to your neighborhood – the super-polluting gas-powered leaf blower!

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In today’s Washington Post, “Gas-powered leaf blowers: Simply terrible for the air.”  (That’s the title in the print version.)  And then there’s the deafening noise.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on September 17, 2013 at 9:08 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.


  1. I don’t think you get this thing in the uk, which is interesting. Leaves on grass can be mowed up, surely, and elsewhere winter winds blow leaves on to beds where they provide excellent mulch.
    But I do know someone in USA said they wouldn’t buy The Bad Tempered Gardener because I mention using one – for hedge clipping maybe, I can’t remember! It’s our hedge cutters that really make the noise here, I’m sorry to say, and I’m hoping for a cordless electric system for that when we can afford it one day.
    It is fascinating discovering how different gardens are in the USA.

  2. Try looking for the Black & Decker lithium battery one. I found it on Amazon and it was around $125. Buy an extra battery as they take 8 hours to charge. Works great and not much noise – except for the whirring blades.

  3. Leaf mulch for beds that would also compost? What a concept! Sorry to say it’s pure ignorance and being tied to a ridiculous “standard” here. (Not to mention a hard-on for loud, polluting, gas-guzzling machinery.) Maybe with these kinds of articles people will learn something. Eventually.

  4. I use electric leaf vacuum/mulchers as much as possible and use the shredded leaves as mulch in the garden beds. I tried the lithium battery version but returned it the next day as, sadly, it wasn’t up to the task. The other problem is that I destroy at least one leaf vacuum/mulcher a year….they can handle leaves, but not too many of the sticks and occasional pebbles that they try to ingest.
    If I could only create with a robust, easy-to-use, reasonably priced version, I think I could make a fortune….unless someone can tell me where I already can buy one.

  5. Another thing that really bothers me about the use of these noisy machines is that 9 out of 10 of the “landscapers” using them in my neighborhood do not use ear protection. Their employers could apparently care less that these folks are damaging their hearing.

  6. Commercial landscapes involve paved surfaces and stakeholders expect weekly upkeep: organic matter, dust, grit and refuse removed. Most apartment, townhouse and commercial properties won’t or can’t afford the much higher landscape maintenance bill required to keep paved surfaces clean with brooms. I’m all for mowing leaves up off grass – outdoor vacuums that lawnmowers are – and just leaving leaves on garden and landscape beds. Nobody yet wants leaves, spent flowers, seed pods etc. left on paving. Low-noise backpack blowers don’t burn very much gas in a year compared to say, a car. And if they are being run a lot, it means they’re taking care of a bunch of properties. And four-stroke backpack blowers are available.

  7. An easy fix – compensate the grounds crews a fair wage to use less time efficient modes of grounds clean-up.
    Frankly we don’t care if we use brooms, rakes or blowers as long as we can get the job done and are not penalized for being less productive with our time.
    This goes against the grain of capitolism and is the crux. But if you can pitch the idea that in the long run it is better for the community at large to use a less effective time mananagement strategy then you might make some headway. Otherwise use an electric blower and make everybody happy.

  8. The noise pollution is a big issue with the gas powered leaf blowers. There are alternatives on the market, electric leaf blowers, which are much quieter, but also more expensive. The cost of upgrading to electric is sited as being too expensive for the average lawn maintenance company to switch. I would like to see some change in the ubiquitous use of the noisy gas powered leaf blowers. Noise pollution is another pollution whose detriment is underestimates.

  9. I refuse to buy one for my business as I use a rake or broom only. My customers don’t seem to mind and I take the leaves home for use in my vegetable garden. At home we use our commercial mower and chop them up for use in garden beds.

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