It's been a while since we last tackled the contentious issue of leaf blowers, but action on that front is nicely rounded up in this week's New Yorker Magazine. (Here's an abstract – the full article isn't online).
In case you don't get hold of the print version, my favorite quotes include one Californian's complaint about the "fine dust thrown up by these 200-plus-mile-an-hour bazookas – a biohazard buffet of diesel soot, brake-lining particles, fungi, mold, spores, and animal fecal matter". And one leaf-blower-defender reacts to a neighbor complaining of the noise by suggesting he "get double-glazed windows and draw his drapes and just stay inside."
And you know what was weird in the article? That all the references to "gardeners" refers to hired laborers, not to homeowners. Not to US. For instance: "The ban in Los Angeles galvanized the blower industry to join gardeners' and landscapers' groups in lobbying for a state law that would override such local measures". I wondered why garden clubs are rallying on behalf of these things. But this quote makes it clear who they're talking about: "Gardeners almost never need all that horsepower, but the noise has come to symbolize their, well, masculinity
It's the Mulch!
Here's the chief defense of blowers for landscape crews: "You can't use a rake and broom on bark mulch – we'd be here five hours, and who would pay for that?" But the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power showed that a "grandmother using a rake and broom took only 20 percent longer to clean a test plot than a gardener with a blower." And this sums it up: "Blowers are indeed superior on bark mulch – but one reason that bark mulch has become so ubiquitous is that it can be cleaned so easily with a blower."
There are two products mentioned that I hope we can test for Rant readers – the Amazing Rake (combination rake and scoop) and Haaga sweeper.
See Quiet Orinda, to learn about a fight to ban leaf blowers in Orinda, CA, which would become the 24th city in the state to do so.
The photo shows one "gardener" using the infernal contraption in my next-door neighbor's garden. I not only have to go indoors when they're working there, but also close the windows. Oh, and note the smoke coming out of the motor – and the absence of dead leaves needing to be removed (it was spring).