During these challenging cold winter days, do you notice an unusual quiet outside? Bet you don’t miss the constant hum, or should I say, roar, of multiple landscapers blowing leaves, cut grasses, twigs and whatever in your neighborhood? Winter offers some advantages over the other three seasons when it comes to our outdoor audio.
As we think of ways that we can help our health and the planet, the harm caused by gasoline-powered leaf blowers rise near the top of the list. Leaf blowers are bad for health. By health, I mean the health of: the leaf-blower operators; the rest of us, and our planet.
Bad for Us
Gas-powered leaf blowers damage the hearing, and the lungs of its operators, and the rest of us.
- The noise of a gasoline-powered leaf blower can exceed 100 decibels of low frequency, wall-penetrating sound, as much noise as a plane taking off, at levels that can cause tinnitus and hearing loss with long exposure.
- Gasoline-powered leaf blowers emit pollutants — carbon monoxide, smog-forming nitrous oxides, and carcinogenic hydrocarbons. A single leaf-blower emits more pollution in one-half hour than a Ford F150 pickup truck emits over 3,000 miles.
- The noise also affects the mental health of bystanders and neighbors.
Bad for the Planet
The health of our planet is also at stake. Leaves are important to the ecosystem.
- They provide good, organic fertilizer for lawns when mulched with a mulching lawn mower.
- Leaves are also good for perennials, bushes and trees when bedded around them, insulating their roots, and reducing the freezing and thawing that damages roots, and in warm months, retaining moisture.
- And leaves provide habitat for insects, birds, and small animals, all of which contribute to biodiversity that‘s essential.
So instead of blowing the leaves away, think about put leaves to good use: fertilizing your lawn and garden. In fact, fertilizing with mulched leaves is much better than applying chemicals. Chemicals make grass grow too fast; as a result, more mowing and watering is required. Plus, chemical fertilizers kill worms that are beneficial to the soil and to birds.
I speak from experience about the benefits of leave fertilization. When I converted to organic leaf fertilizing of my lawn, it became softer to walk upon as the worms returned, and we saw more robins hopping about the lawn, listening, and feeling for worms, and more monarch butterflies nearby, and more bees, important pollinators.
Want some direction on how to compost your leaves, check out Skip Hobbes blog here.
What’s a mulching lawn mower?
It’s a mower which chops up the grass clippings and the leaves, and deposits them in its wake rather than spewing them into a bag that likely goes to the Transfer Station and a landfill Most lawn mowers can be made mulching mowers with the simple adjustment to or addition of a plate that blocks the exit of clippings.
So, reducing the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers is a win, win, win — for the health of its operators, for our health, including our mental health, and for the health of our planet. Other towns are restricting the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers — including Greenwich, Ridgefield, Tarrytown, Dobbs Ferry, Nantucket, Cambridge Massachusetts, Burlington VT, and Washington DC. California is phasing out the sale of gasoline-powered leaf blowers (Source)
If one must blow leaves, battery-powered leaf blowers are almost as powerful as gasoline-powered leaf blowers, MUCH quieter, and emit no pollutants. We have a Greenworks battery-powered leaf blower that we use occasionally to clear our terrace. Conveniently, it uses the same batteries as our Greenworks lawn mower and Greenworks chainsaw. In our yard, we let all the leaves fall, then rake them up with hand rakes — we get exercise, q-u-i-e-t, and no pollution. Reducing the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers is a win, win, win — for the operators, for us, and for our planet.