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Clearing Leaves? Do Not Blow, Mulch Mow!



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To the Editor:

Whether inside or out in the yard at this time of year, the sound of a neighbor’s leaf blower is likely to be heard. And at 95-115 decibels there is no ignoring it. This noise pollution, which can be detrimental to hearing and mental health, degrades our quality of life.

Aside from the noise, gas-powered leaf blowers (GLBs) produce exhaust that contributes to smog and health problems. One GLB operated for one hour can generate the same amount of pollution as 20 idling cars. And this powerful stream of air (which can be up to 200 mph) moves more than just leaves. Topsoil, pesticides, weed seeds, beneficial insects, mold, and dust can all become airborne.

A better leaf managing practice is to mulch mow them. First of all, wait until almost all the leaves have dropped from the trees. Look for the areas where leaves are the thickest and mow over the leaves, which greatly reduces their volume. Leaving the mulched leaves where they are will improve the soil and reduce the need for fertilizer in the spring. Or some of the mulched leaves can be moved to an area in the side yard or the compost pile, to be used in the spring to improve garden soil.

In areas of the lawn where leaves are sparser, just leave them! And the leaves that have found their way into the flower beds should be left to overwinter, providing insulation and cover for ground nesting bees, other beneficial insects, caterpillars, etc.

Thinking of leaves as an asset rather than a nuisance makes sense and helps us to be better connected with natural processes. And your neighbors may appreciate a more peaceful neighborhood.

Mary Gaudet-Wilson

Protect Our Pollinators / Pollinator Pathway


Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. qstorm says:

    Quick internet search ‘Leaf-blower noise at 50 feet ranges from 64 to 78 decibels. At the operator’s ear, the noise is 95 to 115 decibels.’ Not so good for the operator but not as loud as portrayed above. 2-stroke or 4-stroke – makes a difference for pollution. 20 idling cars? Prius or Pickup? Agree that leaf blowers make noise and pollution, but a yard full of dry leaves can be a fire hazard.

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