As Communities Ban Leaf Blowers, Homeowners Save Money by Raking

Citizens in my town of Takoma Park, MD are asking the city council to ban gas-powered leaf blowers because they are so noisy and generate so much air pollution. If the council agrees, our community will join many others around the U.S. that believe it is cleaner and healthier to rake leaves rather than blow them into bags or down to the street for pick-up.

Leaf blower Why are gas leaf blowers so offensive?

* They pollute the air. A single gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution in a year as 80 cars.

* They’re noisy.  A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels (60dB). Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 dB. According to the U.S. EPA this level of noise actually degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure.

*  They worsen allergies and asthma and irritate the lungs. Because they operate at such high velocities, leaf blowers stir up the mold, allergens, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with rain and decomposition.

*  They waste gas. Rakes and even electric-lawn blowers offer a petroleum-free alternative.

If you need a new rake, choose one that’s at least 24 inches across for maximum efficiency, with tines made from either metal or plastic (wood or bamboo tines tend to break or rot). Here are more tips on buying a great rake. Shop at any local hardware store, garden supply center or big box store like Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart.

Leaf sweeper You can also try a leaf sweeper. It swoops up leaves into a handy collection bag as you roll it over your lawn or driveway.

If you opt for a leaf blower, make it electric. Notes Lowe’s:

Electric leaf blowers are lighter, quieter and vibrate less than gas units. An electric motor drives the fan, so there’s no need to mix fuel or refill. Smaller and medium-sized yards are especially good candidates for electric blowers. There are two types:

* Corded leaf blowers provide constant power as long as you have access to an electrical outlet. The attached cord limits mobility so this may not be the best choice for a lawn with lots of trees. Look for a cord retention system to prevent the cord from being accidentally unplugged during use. Also, use an electrical cord that’s rated for outdoor use.

* Rechargeable/battery-operated leaf blowers are good alternatives for smaller areas or jobs. They work well on solid surfaces like driveways and garages. They’re limited by their run time and the fact that they move less air than larger models.

Want information on other power tools? See this landscaping information.

38 Responses to As Communities Ban Leaf Blowers, Homeowners Save Money by Raking

  1. Kelly November 7, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    leaf blowers are what dog whistles are to dogs….loud, grating, annoying, waste-of-time machines. Get a rake and get some exercise! The same people who will recycle their crap, talk about green energy, etc. often use these high-pitched pieces of junk. Can’t think of many things more annoying to listen to.

    • Mike November 23, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      They tried to ban leaf blowers here. Then looked at me puzzled and more so pissed off when we pulled out this and stared vacuuming up the sidewalks and street side. Nothing could be said, less pollution then a car with this engine and less noise then an electric blower or pedestrians car.

      Then the city demanded us not to use “gasoline zeroturns or mowers” on Air Pollution Control day. Fine with us, we pulled out the biggest zero turns we had in the shop with a propane set-up.

      Then the city all together tried to put a ban on leaf blowers. We started bidding their properties at $75.00 an hour for 5 man hours, which then bumped up to 20 man hours a week on one property out of the many. They about flipped out of their chair and put a stop to that real fast.

      It’s funny the tree huggers that sit behind a computer typing the nonsense about pollution are the same ones that sit behind a computer all day “consuming our countries energy, with the air conditioner blowing all day.”

      There’s more then one way to skin the cat. If they ever decided to completely ban leaf blowers here, we’d go to using the quite vaccum, which will suck everything straight off the sidewalk including rocks, grass, bottles, glass, anything, with less noise, and less pollution then a car, the presidents jet, and anything else on the road.

      If they then tried to ban our quite vacs, with low pollution engines that fall under epa’s guidlines by large margins, then I’d refuse, go to jail, and take it to trial until they ban every car on the road.

  2. Sara April 9, 2009 at 3:45 am #

    I agree 100% with Rhea!!! The most annoying noise I’ve ever had to listen to on an otherwise beautiful day. Really spoils it. Whoever invented the leaf blower should be tortured himself with this noise every freakin day like I am!!!

    • Mike November 23, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

      I’ll stick to my “noisy leaf blower” blowing my 10 ft. piles of leaves over to my “Noisy Leaf Loader” truck and keep “plastic filled bags” full of leaves out of my city dump, instead my “noisy dump trailer” on my “noisy leaf loader truck” will dump them at the “noisy recycle yard” and turn them into mulch and reusable material instead of “Impacting the environment” and “filling our waste yards full of plastic which can take 50+ years to degrade.

      How about that?

      • Diane November 24, 2015 at 8:27 am #

        It sounds like you have a system that works for you!

      • Vincent De Benedetto November 24, 2015 at 8:50 am #


        There is so much wrong with this post. I’ll simply mention for now the condescending and mocking way the poster treats the problem of noise. The fact is, noise is a catastrophic problem in this culture. There are virtually no serious noise protections in America, yet noise is responsible for many physical and emotional maladies, and, most people who move cite noise as the reason.

        Most mechanized operations can be done in a non or less-mechanized way if the will is genuinely there.


        Vincent Frank De Benedetto

        • Diane November 24, 2015 at 9:11 am #

          Thanks so much for weighing in, Vincent. It is pretty unbearable in my neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday mornings when all the leaf blowers are out, even if they’re electric. I rake the leaves around my porch and walkways, mow the ones on the grass, and leave alone the leaves that fall around the bushes and trees until spring. They provide a good mulch during the winter, and then are easier to pick up (if they need to be) in the spring.

      • Kell Brigan December 6, 2015 at 1:42 am #

        You CRUEL noise is making your neighbors ill. Proud of yourself?

  3. Ross April 13, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    I cannot stand them! My neighbors has a gardner that spends hours using gas lawn tools including the leaf blower. Just today he was here for over 7 hours?!?! How do I go about getting the city to ban these useless machines?

    • Sean April 12, 2017 at 11:02 am #

      Sitting here listening to a guy use a leaf blower for the pat 3 hrs. since 8:00am on a city lawn that has hardly any leaves on it left over from the fall, (it is now spring). It is driving me nuts! He’s collected one bag so far. Use a rake you lazy POC! The dude has on massive ear protection, hey where is my ear protection! I’ve done landscaping before and we had a massive leave blower that took about 1/2 hour to clear a lawn that was buried with leafs, I get it, but sometimes a rake is more effective and far less annoying. Heck, Just moving the lawn would have mulched up the amount of leaves this dude was trying to clear in about 20min.

      • Diane April 19, 2017 at 8:22 am #

        I know what you mean. Leaf blowers are so loud! Sorry for your discomfort.

  4. Karen June 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Folks, we need to come together and maybe initiate a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers to get rid of these things. Did you know they cause more pollution than cars? And that there are no emission or noise regulations at all on 2-cycle engines? Why not?
    By the way, electric leaf blowers can be as loud or even louder than their gasoline counterparts. I have a neighbor with one that I can hear five blocks away! Please don’t offer them as an alternative! They aren’t acceptable: 90 decibels of shrieking high-pitched hell isn’t really any better than 100 decibels of noise. Ban them all – no exceptions.
    I live in College Park, Maryland. Thanksgiving a year ago we had to listen to 8 hours of leaf blowers. Eight hours! On a holiday! It’s absolutely ridiculous. The noise is every day, morning, noon, night, Saturday and Sunday and holidays. It never stops. I’m fed up with the noise and stink.
    And don’t forget the air pollution aspect of these things: not only the burned gasoline and oil, but the amount of particulate matter blown into the air. Wonder why your allergies don’t clear up? Well, when the pollen finally lands on the ground, it’s just blown up into the air again — for you to breathe. No wonder asthma and allergies are on the rise. Leaf blowers may not be the cause of illness, but they certainly are contributing factors. Ban them all.

    • Vincent F. De Benedetto July 18, 2015 at 11:19 am #


      I invite your visit to my growing family of anti-leafblower websites:



      And importantly, this site, since leafblower use occurs for reasons of 1.) profit, and 2.) ego:


      Warm Regards,

      Vincent F. De Benedetto

      • Diane July 20, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

        Thanks for the info, Vincent!

  5. robert September 22, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    we should fight together!
    Let’s do it!!!

  6. rouademunte November 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Just wanted to say great job with the blog, today is my first visit here and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.Great job!

  7. L Summers December 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Thank you for posting. I am currently doing research in how to get these things banned in our community. It’s amazing how much the city uses them in public parks and bike paths, just for aesthetics. My neighbor’s landscaping company uses commercial grade leaf blowers and there is no place in my house to get away from the noise. I’m sure they are in violation of our city’s noise ordinance yet the police would rather spend their energy telling neighborhood kids not to play basketball after dusk than to respond to complaints about leaf blowers. I’m wondering about the legality of polluting our acoustic environment without any mandatory mitigation – doesn’t this amount to a sort of subsidy that the whole public is footing the bill for? Seriously, it’s time to extend ecological awareness to the soundscape. Silence is golden.

  8. Diane MacEachern July 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I agree that banning gas-powered leaf blowers is a good idea! Even the electric ones are noisy, but at least they pollute less.

  9. Sheila Harrington December 26, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Here is a leaf-blower cartoon you might want to check out.

  10. playground mulch April 21, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    I so am for banning them. I have to deal with a gas powered one at work which stinks up the office, with the doors and windows closed. My landlord is also a leaf blower which it seems he comes every single day to use. If we can’t outlaw them can we at least make them be electric and only used during certain hours and days of the week.

  11. Steven Kage April 25, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I agree!(except about the bamboo rakes-bamboo has a higher tinsel strength than steel-I’ve used a bamboo rake for the longest and it still works great!(also, bamboo tines won’t tear up the grass as bad as metal or plastic). Try organizing “Rake Fest” events with kids, students, neighbors, etc. Have contests, give prizes (have local merchants contribute)-Good Luck!

  12. Diane MacEachern April 27, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Rake fest? Great idea!!

  13. Shannon May 26, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Hi, I also live in Takoma Park and the noise from leaf blowers (now used year round, and currently extensively for grass clippings) is driving me crazy. I did a search about banning leaf blowers and found your blog, written years ago. I am assuming this was voted against. Is there anything currently happening to try to ban the blowers? I would like to be involved. I think all blowers should be banned though, not just gas, as I am mainly concerned about noise. (I also am having issues with mowers which is another problem I think, but not quite as bad as blowers, they are still noisy and polluting). Please let me know. Thank you.

    • Diane June 18, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      HI, Sorry to be so late in responding. I think there is a ban on gas leaf blowers, not electric ones, but it’s not very well enforced. You’re right – mowers are very noisy! I think the trick is to replace lawns with perennial ground covers that don’t require mowing.

  14. Shannon August 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Thank you Diane. I am sitting in my home office right now with my ears covered with noise cancelation headphones, all of my windows and doors closed and my AC running and I can still hear the leaf blowers being used across the street (two at a time) about a block away. The noise is maddening. I don’t know, honestly, if they are gas powered or electric. All I know is that every time the landscaping crews come by to my neighbors houses I feel very on edge and about to lose my grip. I wish more was being done about this. In my part of the neighborhood there are a lot of multi dwelling rental homes which means many landlords hire landscaping crews rather than do the work themselves. For me that means a possibility of one of 7 – 8 yards that may have a crew working on it, which means there is a landscaping crew disturbing my peace several times a week for several months out of the year. The crews have at least two people using leaf blowers at once (sometimes more) often while a lawn mower and/or weed wackier is going at the same time. I feel like I am in the middle of an invasion during a war. My neighborhood LOOKS peaceful and by all accounts should be but these leaf blowers ruin any chances of that. Is there anything else that can be done. Any action that I myself as a citizen can take? I really don’t know what to do. Thank you.

    • Diane August 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Have you tried talking to your next door neighbors to see if they share your concern? Or your city council representative? Are there noise ordinances already in place that these companies might be violating and that could be invoked to bring them under control? I really sympathize with you – the noise is very annoying!

  15. Alex July 2, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    Hi Diane,
    Your blog is very good and trust.
    I have a blog about lawn mower.
    I would like to have a guest post on your blog!
    Please let me know if you agree.
    Cheers and have a good day!

    • Diane July 7, 2016 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks. I don’t accept many guest posts. I hope you’re writing about electric and non-gas lawn mowers!

  16. Jess October 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    I can see this is a very big issue. I did not realize that the sound and gas was such an issue. I use a blower at my house with out ear protection and I did not think they are very loud. I don’t need them for my job, but I do use them for my house. My job is doing commercial lawn care in Minneapolis
    but we just do the fertilization and stuff so no blowers or mowers. My challenge is I have a bad back and if I get on this bandwagon it will cost me hundreds of dollars to pay someone to rake up my yard. I am not sure with all of my physical pain if it is worth it despite all the great arguments you and others have made. I will have to give this more thought.

  17. Patricia Russell December 17, 2016 at 1:43 am #

    Thanks Diane for your help! This is such a impressive blog that I found.

    • Patricia Russell December 24, 2016 at 2:13 am #

      I would like to buy tools for garden cleaning. So, which tools best for me. I need suggestions.

      • Diane January 4, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

        Check with your local garden supply store. Thanks.

  18. Minneapolis Lawn January 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    Great points about how noisy they are, I have had to close the windows to hear my phone calls sometimes. I do not know the decibels our city allows but it can be very distracting. The lawn guys need like a car battery in a backpack they can plug blowers into maybe. Interesting idea I think.

    • Diane January 18, 2017 at 9:41 am #

      Yes, the noise can be unbearable. There’s nothing as quiet as a rake!

    • Minneapolis Lawn January 18, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      You sure got that right. Now if I could just get my kids to use them more. J.T.

      • Diane January 20, 2017 at 8:34 am #

        That’s always the challenge, isn’t it? Thanks for writing.

  19. AJ June 26, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    Does anyone have any insight into fuel cell powered leaf blowers? It sounds like a much quieter option that is also portable and clean. The traditional leaf blowers are driving me nuts right now. One day it is my neighbors to my left, the next day it is my neighbors to my right, the next day it is coming from the house across the street…non stop. I hope fuel cells leaf blowers can be a viable technological replacement.

    • Diane June 27, 2017 at 9:33 am #

      There are battery powered blowers that are pretty quiet, but nothing is as quiet as a push mower, probably. Sorry for your pain!

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