The beginner’s guide to leaf blowing and leaf-blower bans

Getting a yard tends to complicate people’s feelings about fall foliage. There was a time when autumn leaves were large enough to be piled up and you could take weekends trips to enjoy the fall colors. Now, what you’re peeping will eventually land on your lawn and consume your weekend.

Leaf cleanup has never been more difficult. Blow those leaves at the wrong time of day or with the wrong kind of equipment, and you’ll wind up with neighborhood beefs and maybe a fine, thanks to increasingly common local ordinances. So, here’s some guidance to help you choose the right leaf blower — or whether you really need to clean up the leaves at all.

How to choose a leaf blower

First, let’s deal with gas-powered leaf blowers, which are viewed about as favorably these days as smoking indoors.

Gas blowers pose serious dangers to the environment as well as health. They’re powered by a “two-stroke” engine that’s much less efficient than the kind used in cars. According to California Air Resources Board An hour of gas-powered leaf blower use is equivalent to driving a Toyota Camry 1,100 mile..

They’re also s0 loudThey can cause hearing loss and can emit low-frequency noises that can travel long distances. They also emit fumes that can cause dizziness or headaches as well as carcinogens..

Gas blowers have one advantage over their battery-powered counterparts: They are far more powerful. For most homeowners, though, that shouldn’t matter, since a typically sized yard doesn’t require maximum power. Professional landscape crews use gas blowers to maintain yards for hours.

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According to Stanley, Black & Decker, 85% are electric personal-use blowers, according the tool-manufacturer. “That’s been pretty steady over the last five years,” says Christine Potter, president of the company’s outdoor business unit.

You have two options: handheld or backpack electric blowers. The latter is the stronger. They’re either corded or powered by a rechargeable battery. You should also be aware of the following specifications: miles per an hour (which is how fast the air blows), and cubic feet per minute (CFM), which are the volume and effect on the amount of leaves that are moved.

Here’s how Dale Vogelsanger, senior lawn and garden expert at online retailer Power Equipment Direct, explains it: “If you have a small yard with a lot of leaves, you really don’t need a lot of miles per hour because you’re not blowing them far. You need a higher CFM because you’re moving a lot of product.”

If you’ve got a larger yard without too many leaves, you should instead prioritize miles per hour because you’ll want to move a small amount of foliage a farther distance. In a big yard with a lot of leaves, you’ll want high numbers for both. (In handheld electric blowers, CFM ranges between approximately 350 to 605, while MPH is between 95 and 250.

The blower can have many additional features. Some blowers can be made into leaf vacuums, which trap leaves and other debris in bags. Other attachments can be used for cleaning your gutters or shredding leaves.

Jamie Banks, president of Quiet Communities, a non-profit organization that focuses on noise reduction is CEO. He says that there are more than 200 jurisdictions that have some law regarding leaf blower usage. In rare cases, communities may ban all blowers. Others have banned the sale or use of gas-powered blowers. The most common regulation restricts how long you can use a leaf blower.

Where?2018 saw the end of gas blowersPeople who use them within the three-year phase-in period can be subject to a $500 fine. From January to Aug. 18, 2022, according to data released by the city under a Freedom of Information Act request, D.C.’s consumer regulatory agency received 452 leaf blower complaints. 11 of those leaf-blower complaints led to fines.

California is the first to ban certain engines. Gas-powered lawn mowersThis includes blowers. This law will ban the sale of gas-powered machinery after 2024.

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The case against leaving the leaves alone

There’s another option: “All of us need to [reconsider] this hyper-manicured aesthetic expectation that’s been in place,”Daniel Mabe, president and CEO of the American Green Zone Alliance which certifies landscaping companies using sustainable practices, said.

Mabe suggests using “people-powered” machines — a.k.a. rakes and push lawn sweepers — to consolidate some leaves. To shred the leaves into mulch, you can use a leaf mower attachment or a leaf blaster attachment. Then, spread the fertilizer. This method won’t leave your lawn pristine, but that’s the whole point. It’s part of a broader movement to trade perfect grass for more biodiversity.

“Leaf litter is an astonishingly rich habitat”Matthew Shepherd, director for outreach and education at Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, said that it is important for animals, particularly insects, to lay their eggs there in winter. It improves soil quality which, in turn, helps plants attract pollinators.

Xerces Society has a “Leave the Leaves”Encourage people to not completely clean up fallen leaves. Shepherd emphasizes that it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition: “You don’t have to keep your lawn smothered with them.”(He also emphasizes that the campaign doesn’t apply to climates prone for wildfires, in which collecting leaves is a matter safety.

“We’re facing all sorts of issues in our lives: climate change and loss of species and pollution,” Shepherd says. “Often, people are looking for simple things they can do, and what you do in your garden is a really straightforward, simple, direct action that people can take.”

The beginner’s guide to leaf blowing and leaf-blower bans

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