Leaf Blower Noise Should be Controlled by Law

Earlier this week I was minding my own business working in my new raised vegetable bed. It sits behind the garage and faces the alley. Normally it’s a peaceful area with an occasional car or dog walker passing by. But once a week when my back neighbor’s yard crew comes the alley becomes a war zone, a whirling tornado of twigs and leaves loud enough to make you think a freight train were coming down the alley.

Three guys on the crew use leaf blowers to scatter leaves out of my neighbors yard and into the alley. Had I not been out there I am sure I would have some leaves in my driveway. I grabbed my earplugs from inside and continued with my planting bed.

I looked for some data about blowers, and as it turns out, they are indeed exceedingly loud and I am not alone in hating them.

At fifty feet away the decibel level of the average blower is 10 times higher than what’s suggested for safe outside listening, according to nonoise.org.

Local governments and municipalities, especially in places like California, are looking to control aspects of the blowers, such as the times they are allowed to be used (please not 7:00 a.m.)! Here’s one recent story about a Boston neighborhood trying to restrict usage of blowers.

I think it would also be useful to figure a way to mandate or encourage the use of lower decibel blowers. This piece in Wired suggests that quieter blowers exist, they are just more expensive. Citizens are not allowed to drive around with extremely loud mufflers, why not apply the same sort of thinking to blowers?

What do you think? Are you a blower? Do you hire a crew and not worry about it? Does anyone rake anymore?


16 responses to “Leaf Blower Noise Should be Controlled by Law

  1. Yes, blowers are a problem. There is a lawn service that my landlord uses, and these men walk up and down my street blowing leaves, trash, etc. to and fro at 8 a.m. In fact, they do such a bad job, that one year ago I took myself off of their “to mow” list and do my own yard work, but they still blow litter around my duplex. My solution? I stand outside and wait for them to come to my door, then proceed to wave my arms at them, and then scream, “No blow! No blow!” (they don’t speak English). It works. They leave my property alone, but the noise is still terrible. Oh, and the waving and shouting at them provides ample entertainment for the neighbors. You’re right, Erin. These blowers must be stopped!

  2. Over here in Germany, Sundays are “quiet days” so use of any and all loud lawn machinery is strictly forbidden. The silence is truly golden! 7:00am Saturday morning is a very different story but hey, you can’t have it all…

  3. It’s not just noise. It’s the air pollution that the gas powered blowers create.


    Emmett Pepper, Hudson Valley and Connecticut program director for Citizen’s Campaign Fund for the Environment, said from Groton, Conn., that running an internal combustion leaf blower for 30 minutes “is like driving a car 1,000 miles. The older ones are worse.”

  4. I am a blower hater!! They are just so noisy and obnoxious. I have a neighbor with a blower fascination who drives me wild, well actually drives me into a house with closed windows. 😦

  5. Really, now, are you suggesting more governmental control over your neighbor? How would YOU like it if there were laws over your use of your earphones? How was your raised bed made? Any noise there? Mow your grass? Vaccuum your house? Yell at your kids? Just because you don’t like their use of a blower for a few hours a week doesn’t mean they are wrong in their manner of cleanliness. You should be glad that they opt to maintain their yard. Live and let live. (Be a good neighbor!)

  6. I am a Proud Raker! I -loathe- blowers. Only good that comes from them is when they blow leaves into my yard and I can throw them on my compost.
    But I’d give that up for the silence.

    We also have a mulching mower, but I’m lobbying at my house for a push mower.

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  8. they suck

  9. I am responding to Karen’s stupid comment above. She wrote: “How would YOU like it if there were laws over your use of your earphones?”
    Now, clearly there is a huge (greater than millionfold) difference between earphones and leafblowers: the noise emitted!
    “How was your raised bed made? Any noise there? Mow your grass? Vaccuum your house? Yell at your kids?”
    Again, Karen seems totally illogical: none of these activities make anywhere near the noise of leafblowers, and many of them are done indoors. It’s true that some “landscapers” use extremely noisy blowers, weedwackers etc – but these are as much a part of the problem. They should all be regulated and limited.
    Some people like a manicured yard next door (even if it is over a fence and invisible) and others like peace and quiet. The real problem is that there seems to be no way for people to move to neighborhoods where other people with similar preferences live. I dream of moving to a quiet community and would pay a considerable premium to do so.

    • I agree. Karen is an idiot. And if we had to listen rather than read her words, I’m sure it would be a 100 decibel screech.

  10. Hi Paul –

    Your vision of community sounds like a suburban “Blade Runner”!

    Karen’s use of earphones doesn’t impinge on her neighbors use or enjoyment of their yards and gardens.

    A better analogy might be, if as “home protection,” Karen kept three big dogs in her front yard that barked incessantly for hours on Saturday mornings. She would drive her neighbors insane, but Karen could argue she has a right to protect her home

    The only weakness to this example, is that a dog’s bark is less than an earsplitting drone, and a bark does’t fill the air with dust, mold, dessicated rodent feces, and fertilizer particles.

  11. Slightly off topic perhaps, and we all know some keen gardeners are told from all angles to be green, but it is equally as crucial that you think on people cost. E.G., some makes of rotovators may be made in sweatshops in the Far East. So PLEASE think about the source of your rotovator is sourced if you make a purchase. A cultivator manufactured in Europe might not be the cheapest, but it’s a very fundamental decision.

  12. Long time reader / first time poster. Really enjoying reading the blog, keep up the excellent work. Will definitely start posting more oftenin the near future.

  13. This is a serious noise problem. It’s like six Harley Davidson motocycles around your house for an hour.

  14. Sam Wirthington

    Yes leafblowers are a serious problem and the inconsiderate creeps that use them on all days of the week just as big a problem. I can hardly wait until these things are banned completely.

  15. Richard Introini

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